The Jacob Burns Film Center in Westchester County, N.Y., is set to unveil a new addition that aims to teach media literacy to schoolchildren, prisoners, and the homeless, reports the New York Times. In late September, a bit of Hollywood plopped down in Pleasantville, N.Y., red carpet and flashbulbs included. Alighting from vans and school buses, 7-, 8- and 9-year-old children strutted into the lobby of a quaint storefront theater, as parents and teachers snapped pictures. The event was to showcase the animated films the children had produced during a summer program, part of an expanding educational operation that emanates from the film center and now includes nearly 85 percent of the county’s school districts. The goal is no less than redefining education in the digital age–a tough task at a time when anything considered an extra is very likely to come under budget scrutiny. Nevertheless, on Dec. 5, the film center will open its new Media Arts Lab, a $15 million, 27,000-square-foot plant crammed with digital studios just down the road from the main theater. It is like a giant audiovisual department for the nearby schools–and it’s starting to reach into other sorts of institutions, too. The Westchester County jail is a temporary home to men who probably have more pressing issues than learning how to produce videos for YouTube. The same goes for those living in a nearby homeless shelter. But instructors regularly visit the jail and the shelter to teach a digital-literacy curriculum. The idea is this: In an increasingly visual world, and one in which anyone with a laptop, web connection, and camera can be a producer of media, children (and the occasional prisoner) need to understand how what they see and watch is created as much as plain old reading, writing, and arithmetic. "This is very much about economics, it’s about competitiveness in this country," said Stephen Apkon, who founded the center in 2000…

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