Book Reviews

Book by John Potter
Review by Tamie Saffell
Academic Advising and Learning Center
Western Oregon University
Monmouth, OR


The book Digital Media and Learner Identity: The New Curatorship by John Potter (2012) is based on research conducted with children ages 7-11. In his book, Potter makes an argument that media literacy needs to be taught to children. He further maintains that when children are provided with the opportunity to play with video cameras to create a story about who they are, the end result is a video that reveals their identity. 

The Foreword through Chapter 3 offers some relevance to advisors as Potter explains the concept of curatorship as it relates to media literacy and identity. When we collect, distribute, assemble, disassemble and move our media artifacts around the Internet we are basically choosing how others view who we are. This is similar to a museum curator who sets up displays for the public to view. Most of our students engage with social media sites and regularly incorporate the tools of a curator by gathering and displaying pictures and other material that represents who they are. Since advisors teach students to protect their social identity, the view of curatorship can be a way to teach our students about the ramifications of the media they display about themselves.  As Potter states, “. . . nevertheless, once it [pictures, videos, posts, and other media] is out there in the public domain in a media form it becomes  a shared aspect of that person’s identity, regardless of whether they wished to be identified at a later point in time with that set of behaviors and appearances” (p. 40). 

After the author moves past chapter 3, there is little information that applies to advising. The focus shifts from an explanation of theory background for the research to the actual study conducted with elementary students. I found the research interesting and I wonder if a similar study conducted with college students would yield the same connection between video production and identity. Due to the age of the participants in the study, the information in Digital Media and Learner Identity while fascinating is not helpful to an advisor. 

The immediate take away from the book is the possible research that could be done with college age students to determine if producing videos would also reflect their identity. Overall, the book was a challenge to read due to the scholarly approach of the writing style. The discussion of the research and findings, however, were fascinating. While the book will not make it onto my advising bookshelf, the idea of curatorship will be added to my advising toolbox. 


Digital Media and Learner Identity: The New Curatorship. (2012). Book by John Potter. Review by Tamie Saffell. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. 220 pp. $85.00, (Hardback). ISBN # 978-1-137-00485-7
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