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Visual arts professor visits UNG to discuss exchange opportunities, present research paper

Dr. Sandra Annett, an associate professor of film studies at Wilfrid Laurier University, presented her research paper at the UNG Workshop on Education, Culture and Networks on Oct. 5.

A visiting visual arts professor from Canada was on the University of North Georgia's (UNG) Dahlonega Campus on Oct. 4-5 to discuss potential exchange opportunities and present a working paper at a lecture.

Dr. Sandra Annett is an associate professor at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Since 2001, she is the university's Film Studies Program’s resident specialist in digital and new media studies and teaches courses on animated film, digital new media and Japanese film.

Annett received her Ph.D. in English and film studies at the University of Manitoba in 2011, a master's in English from Queen’s University in 2006 and her bachelor's in Honors English from Dalhousie University in 2004.

Her research focuses on the ways in which visual media technologies, from celluloid film to social networking, affect how audiences understand visual images, create their own works, and use media to connect with others. Annett explored all of these ideas in her 2014 book, "Anime Fan Communities: Transcultural Flows and Frictions."

Dr. Brent Allison, associate professor of education at UNG, invited Annett to visit as part of his Presidential Innovation Award to meet administrators to discuss possible exchange opportunities between Laurier and UNG.

"We discussed the possibility of having some students from Laurier coming here to meet with Atlanta-area film industry leaders, for potential internships, and UNG film study students going to meet with members of the Canadian film industry," Allison said. "The Toronto Film Festival is one of the biggest in the industry, and our students would have an opportunity to network up there."

He said another possible exchange would be for Annett to present as a guest lecturer, either in person or online, in East Asian studies or film studies.

On Oct. 5, Annett presented her current working paper, "Animating Theory and Practice: Critical Media Literacy in the Post-Secondary Classroom," at Young Hall. It was part of the UNG Workshop on Education, Culture and Networks that Allison created.

He said the workshop's purpose is to make research essays better.

"It serves a platform for scholars connected to educational and social research to give "feedforward" criticism—constructive criticism focused on making a paper more publishable—to the author of a paper in progress," Allison said. "The workshop welcomes authors who are either affiliated with or independent experts in diverse fields, including anthropology and political science, as well as diversity, cultural, and media studies."

Annett asserts with the recent and rapid proliferation of digital media, college students today are adept at using technology, but lack the critical thinking skills needed to assess the accuracy of information they acquire. Conversely, college educators have strong critical thinking skills, but many lack the training and ability to use new media avenues.

"When 'alternative facts' and 'fake news' are the buzzwords of the day, it is more important than ever to bridge the gap and ensure strong critical media literacy skills among post-secondary students and educators alike," Arnett said. "As such, developing critical media literacy means fostering both traditional skills in visual analysis and strong digital media production skills at the faculty and student levels."

Annett's project proposes using customized digitally animated videos to promote media literacy among students and faculty in the film studies program at Laurier. Digital animation, she said, is inexpensive to create, engages the viewer with an ability to convey complex topics through easy-to-understand graphics, and the medium's visibly artificial images can easily convey an idea.

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