Social media and critical users: responding to Buckingham’s four concepts of media literacy

 

 

David Buckingham (2003) came up with the four key concepts of media literacy which include language, representation, production and audiences. This discussion is based on the class lecture. We are interested in differences those concepts face in today’s new media environment. How should they be considered when planning the media education including social media skills?

According to Buckingham, media applies a combination of language that consists image, sound and words to create meaning. Media users can understand how the meaning of media message is created by looking at the genre, the choice of the language and the technology used. Representation, on the other hand, is formed when media creates stories by combining incidents, which leads to a particular thinking of the viewer. Media production entails the creation of media texts by individuals or groups. When studying media production one looks at the technology used in creating media texts, who owns the company that does production, who controls the production and how does the media reach its audience. The concept of media audience focuses on how audiences use the media and how they interpret and respond to the media texts.

Buckingham’s view of media literacy was only geared to the audience of the media as receivers of media texts and not senders or producers. The coming of social media, however, has provided an opportunity for people to create their own content reflecting their self-representation, which means that the line between production and audience has become blurred. This aspect was not discussed by Buckingham in his four concepts.

The new media has brought technological convergence, diversity and interactivity compared to the old media. There is a need to the concepts that help in understanding the social media environment and what kind of skills are needed to use it meaningfully. Effective use of social media will be enhanced only if people have knowledge on how they can create, interpret, participate and criticise media content – in other words, how can they be both audience and producers. All of this is in the area of media education.

In his 2010 article “Do we really need Media Education 2.0?” Buckingham discusses the concept of media education and concludes that even though the new media participation and content generation offer new opportunities, they are not always democratic or liberating. According to him media education needs to focus on critical reflection and analysis, and the concept of old as well as new media is important. Considering this statement, we would say that the challenge in today’s media education lies in the ways in which new and old media are possible to combine. This includes understanding the fact that the key concepts of production and audience might sometimes be traditional (companies produce and audiences receive) but in the case of social media they might also overlap (users both produce and receive). Critical thinking is important in both situations, and should therefore be taught in media education.

Students: Aneth Nkeni & Anni Salonen

PLAY, PAUSE AND SHARE: SOCIAL NETWORK AND VIDEO GAME BEHAVIOURS

Students: Maria Michela D’Alessandro, Dermot Lyons, Daniele Cardinali, Hoang Nguyen, Ngoc Nguyen.

For the generation born in the era of the internet, being online is inseparable from our daily activities and habits. If you can imagine life without virtual help, you could also imagine a lost generation in crises.

Our work focuses on media linked with educational science. For this purpose, we analyze cases studies on “online games” and also social networks. Since the advent of Facebook, the concept of “gaming” has changed. People share their in-game achievements on social networks to show to their peers that they have won against their Facebook (or Twitter) friends. Gaming has become a part of players’ lives and has a strong influence on players’ ways of thinking and behaving.
Gabe Zichermann believes that gamification can enhance the learning experience, and demonstrates how others can learn from gamers’ approach to carrying out multiple tasks simultaneously. Similarly, ways to improve education are being inspired by game design techniques (see links below).

These new approaches to playing arose when playing together as multiplayers in a gaming environment increasingly was augmented by options for sharing gaming results on social media profiles. This can also work to one’s own detriment: results of your defeats can be shown to the community too. One can communicate via instant messaging or voice-chat, to try to defeat another group of players, or playing alone or against a friend, thus increasing the interactivity of gaming and the social aspect of them.

This phenomena has been demonstrated in a video named “What’s on your mind?” directed by Shaun Higton. It is clear that sometimes people want to share with the world on Facebook in a different way from their real life. The “Like”, “Comment” or “Share” features on Facebook do not necessarily equal real understanding or sharing between people.

“Miss Bimbo” is an online fashion game and a social networking site. Miss Bimbo, the english name for the original french “Ma bimbo”, was in 2006 — the video game targets 12-14 year old girls. Their main tasks are to gain Bimbo Attitude (BA) and IQ points to change Miss Bimbo’s appearance through costumes, hairstyles, or plastic surgery. With “bimbo bucks”, they can make breast enhancements and use diet pills to make their character become the most beautiful bimbo to attract a billionaire boyfriend.

The game has been criticized for not adding any moral values for the teenage girls who play with “Miss Bimbo”, but instead promote an incorrect or misguided awareness of beauty standards, focusing only on superficiality rather than intelligence levels.

In France, where the game first launched, the site has attracted a million users without any advertising effort. After many negative reviews and comments, in 2008 the makers decided to remove the option of purchasing diet pills, and require parents’ approval to register for girls under age 13.

Miss Bimbo is not the only case but one of thousands of online social network games for children and young teens. Such audiences would benefit from education on the pitfalls of taking such games and social networks too seriously when they start using them.

Mediakasvatuksen konferenssi: Koodaus ei riitä kansalaistaidoksi

Varsinkin länsimaissa on painokkaasti nostettu julkisuudessa esiin koodauksen opetuksen tarvetta osana 21. vuosisadan kansalaistaitoja. Myös Suomessa uuteen perusopetuksen opetussuunnitelmaan ollaan ajamassa koodausta, ja vapaa-ajan toimintoina koodikouluja lapsille ovat perustaneet esimerkiksi alan yritykset. Koodaus ei kuitenkaan yksin riitä informaatioyhteiskunnissa kansalaistaidoksi. Tämä todettiin 7.-9. toukokuuta pidetyssä kansainvälisessä Media Education Futures -konferenssissa, joka pidettiin Tampereen yliopistossa.

Konferenssiin osallistui 140 mediakasvatuksen tutkijaa, opettajaa ja virkamiestä 26 maasta. Esiin nostettujen tutkimustulosten mukaan informaatioyhteiskuntien kansalaistaidot edellyttävät teknisten taitojen lisäksi pedagogista tukea kansalaisten kriittisen tietoisuuden kehittymiseen, joka on edellytys ymmärrykseen yhä enemmän verkossa toimivan yhteiskunnan toiminnasta.

Kriittisen ajattelun pohjalle rakentuu myös luovuus, joka on yksi luovan teollisuudenkin kilpailukyvyn lähtökohdista. Konferenssissa peräänkuulutettiin yhteistyötä nykyistä laaja-alaisemmin eri tieteenalojen kesken tutkimuksen kehittämiseksi.

Sirkku Kotilainen
sirkku.kotilainen@uta.fi

Reijo Kupiainen
reijo.kupiainen@uta.fi

Embedded worlds of virtual and physical lives amongst young people

8.5.2014 Keynote speaker Johanna Sumiala

The research project was carried out amongst young people in their multi-sited lives at the media-city in the suburb of Tower Hamlet in London and Malmi in Helsinki. The work is administered by The Finnish Foundation Youth Research Society and University of Helsinki. Theoretical and empirical research work is viewing social and cultural dimensions of media-city conceptions.

Young people are anywhere in a public, semi-public and private places all the time. The real physical world is somewhere far and virtual, media-city is near and crowded in their mind. Young people are touched by the media-city in different ways depending on their backgrounds. Competition of power relations are taking part in spatially. Self-made culture is made, for example by videos, and the users are producers at the same time. Young people are controlled in order to protect them and on the other hand, young people like to be controlled to feel safe. There is a need for new spaces where subtle and visible hierarchies are balanced between ages, genders and races. Security and control is realized best in libraries as they are semi-public places even though confront is virtual.

The member of Tampere Youth council, Jesse Kosonen told young people uses media for building their identity, school projects, reading news and for fun. He commented there is need for more discussions together with researchers and adults to listen young peoples’ voices and needs whether the safety and satisfying spaces, both virtual and physical, can be create. On the other hand what kind of threats are question about and what kind of semi-public spaces are needed in order to guarantee young people feeling be safety enough.

Tarja Hallavainio

Professor Frau-Meigs: ”Is the school from 19th century still valid in 21st century?”

The first keynote speaker, who opened Media Education Futures 2014 conference was Professor Divina Frau-Meigs from Sorbonne University, France. She started by pointing out the necessity of transitioning Media and Information Literacy (MIL) to digital information cultures. One of the important things she mentioned was the threat of computer literacy, which is constantly pushing media literacy off. In addition, she encouraged an audience to cogitate about digital literacy. Interestingly enough, Professor Frau-Meigs cited the research, which shown that more children can open web browser (25%) than swim unaided (20%). Moreover, according to our keynote speaker Human Enhanced Technologies (HET) happen now in scientific laboratories, which means that we should tackle potential problems immediately, not in the future.

Afterwards, she spoke about Internet of Everything and the lack of Internet of Subjects. She pose a question about type of augmentation for media. The topic of increasingly popular Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and learning analytics was also touched. Professor Frau-Meigs believes that pre-digital models for MIL should be convergent with digital era. She spoke about translitteracies i.e., operational, which encompassed understanding technology besides content; editorial – writing, publishing and related to these tasks skills and abilities and last but not least, organisational – organisation of our navigation through media. The interesting point she made was that schools do not teach media literacies and the education process of them happens outside of curriculum. Strangely enough, libraries tend to claim media literacies education as a part of their competencies. Professor Frau-Meigs proposed new educational domain dubbed ’forwardedness’, which is supposed to work via translitteracies in order to provide sustainable digital development.

Subsequently, Ms Frau-Meigs discussed 4 major needs sustained by digital affordances:

  • Self-actualization, which includes not only profile but also YouTube videos and utilization of other media.
  • Life-streaming, which means projecting things one does not show officially. Surprisingly, people sometimes depict them as more important than one’s work e.g. hobbies.
  • Play, which is modeling and trying different things without a risk.
  • Live agency, which refers to agents in one’s life. It is facilitated by the networks.

Thereafter our keynote shared with us her thought that ’Digital does no longer mean anything.’ Sorbonne professor believes that humanities have pushed for cultures too long and were left behind by natural sciences, which went for information. Professor Frau-Meigs pointed out that Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) is a threat for MIL. She proposed the idea that we need both of them and resultantly we should not look at them as models, which exclude each other and cannot exist in peace and cooperation.

Professor Frau-Meigs posed a very important question about the possibilities of pre-digital school of delivering important competencies for 21st century. One of the examples of MIL and STEM cooperation she gave was a MOOC, which would be organised as do-it-yourself course, not purely based on lectures and delivery of information.

’Is the school from 19th century still valid in 21st century?’ she asked the audience without answering this particular question, rather as food for thought for gathered researchers and teachers.

Towards the end of her talk, she claimed that nowadays our problems arise from abundance of information and a scarcity is no longer an issue. She called for a ’civilized’ media, which as Professor Frau-Meigs believes are currently ’wild’.

In the end, our keynote speaker invited gathered researchers and teachers to Paris for UNESCO conference, which will take place from 27 to 28 May and will tackle the problem of MIL.

Fortunately, there was an opportunity to ask question for Ms Frau-Meigs, which was eagerly utilised. The query from the audience regarded India and children, who do not learn digital competencies in their every day lives and possible ways of closing the gap between them and children from countries where these kind of opportunities are provided. Professor Frau-Meigs discussed combination of low and high tech and gave an example of some countries in Africa, where questions are asked via radio and answers are found thanks to few devices with an access to the Internet. In addition, she mentioned the importance of operational skills. Without them, one is restricted from using application in different ways than one taught oneself.

 

Children – Digital World Citizens

Parallel session – Children, School and Media Education 8.5.2014

Jin Muranen

Children have been always the central target of protection from the media in the earlier years, still in many countries nowadays. But media educators are practicing new ways by embracing the modern media and media researchers are also developing a holistic approach to media learning.

Klaus Thestrup from Aarhus University, Denmark introduced us a marvelous project called Digital World Citizens with intention to find out how children and pedagogues can be and can become world citizens and how kindergartens can be platforms of communication. It is basically a new kind of pedagogy, which is based on common playing, experimenting and communication with the world. In that project, children and pedagogues together find ways to use and change the use of both technologies and narratives. The use of body and analogue materials are integrated part of the communication processes. Klaus said that the goal of his project was to make the children mediawise strong enough to handle this world’s complex media environment.

While it seems that all want to turn our children into rationalists towards media, Marketa Zezulkova from Bournemouth University, England throws out a different holistic perspective. Her study is based on four schools of philosophy, Carl Jung’s archetypes, Edith Stein’s Phenomenology, Hans-Geory Gadamer’s hermeneutics and Lev Vygotsky’s social constructivism.  Jung Carl saw student as a living medium who perceives the world either through emotions, senses, or intuition superiorly to rational thinking. Therefore, the current cognitive-rationalist curriculum seems insistently forcing these students to experience the world in a way that is not their own. Thus, Marketa proposes that teachers’ understanding and benefiting from the emotional and social dimensions of children’s media experience could stimulate an efficient, suitable and enjoyable way of narrating both general and media literacy knowledge and skills in primary and lower elementary schools.

When comes to the education for our children, it is always worthwhile to discuss, even argue over and over, experiment and think carefully, and develop a rather good pedagogy, if not the best, for them – the future digital world citizens.

Go Global

1st –day of MEF 8.5.2014

Jin Muranen

Today’s conference leaves me one-word impression “global”. It has gathered around 150 participants from 26 countries and they have brought ME practices and messages from all over the world. It is impressive to see how much ME has been developed in a rather short time period.

First of all, it is impressive to see how many organizations have been established to promote ME and how active they are in their own ways. The partners of this conference: NORDICOM; Finnish Society on ME; National Audiovisual Institute; and Finnish Youth Research Society are amazing. They have carried out research, published books, magazines, newsletters, designed programs and made videos. All these efforts are for one ultimate goal, promoting ME.

Second of all, it is impressive to see efforts coming from multiple levels: international like UNESCO, EU and NORDICOM; national like many countries’ national NGOs; municipal and regional like universities, institutions and schools.

Third of all, it is impressive to see how wide and far ME research has reached.  Keynote speakers Divina Frau-Meigs talked about augmented media and information literacy (MIL) as the 21st century skills and Johanna Sumiala about youth lives in the media city as the challenge for urban ethnography. ME research reaching far not only means academicwise, but also audiencewise.  16-year-old Jesse Kosonen, as a youth audience, told us from the youth’s perspectives what they like and not like about media, why they use media and what they enjoy doing with media.

All in all, Media Education by nature never meant to be limited within a region, it has to be global. Media educators are well aware of this nature and taking good use of it.

Today’s Students, Tomorrow’s Scholars

Pre-conference of MEF 7.5.2014

Jin Muranen

The pre-conference of Media Education Futures were extremely fruitful. All presenters were PhD students. Their topics and interests stretch a wide range of different fields. And it is fascinating to hear all of them. It is like taking a journey without knowing the destiny, which turns out to be exciting and wonderful. Listening to those PhD students’ presentations was definitely inspiring and making me feel that “Today’s students will be tomorrow’s scholars!” And this is encouraging.

Their topics can be as subtle and detailed as “the role of the touch screen in families with children under 3”, and “visual literacy education in pre-school education” or be as broad and abstract as “how educational consciousness in relation to ME is formed”, and “research as a discursive resource of education policy”. Their methods also vary so much. Classic ways of research can be found as well as modern and innovative ones.

What fascinates me the most both contentwise and methodwise was Kristine øygardslia’s presentation. Kristine is from Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). And her topic was “Creating computer games in the classroom as a method to promote global awareness: Digital skills in practice”. She is aiming to find out how students engage in meaning-making related to global awareness through the different stages of the game development processes: game design, storytelling, character development, concept art and animations, implementation, and play testing. Another aim is to develop theoretical and practical design principles for developing a framework for collaborative learning using computer games, with a focus on promoting global awareness and digital literacy. I believe that Kristine’s research is very meaningful and could be applied in wider fields, for example, in raising up children’s environmental awareness and making them becoming future responsible world citizens.

Media Education Futures conference is not only a gathering of professional minds, but also, probably more a discussion platform for learners to get inspirations and become futures’ professionals.

Blog about Professor Zhang Yanqiu

Professor Zhang Yanqiu is working for the Communication University of China. She is one of thepioneer researchers in the field of media literacy in China. Her PhD dissertation was the first one on media education studies in China.Her book (in Chinese) titled “Understanding Media Literacy: Origins, Paradigms and Approaches”(2012), is the crystalized result of her 10-year work in media literacy research. She explores media literacy concept and practice with historical, comparative and critical views. In her book she examines media literacy from the perspective of media technology, media ecology, media studies, media education, media institution, media regulation, and media convergence. It is one of the few comprehensive and theoretical studies of media literacy in China.

She was a visiting scholar at London School of Economics and Political Science and University of New South Wales, Sydney. Currently she serves as the deputy dean of the faculty of Journalism and Communication and director of Africa Communication Research Center at her university. When she is asked about the ME future, she said that in China, ME has been carried out in one form or another for more than 30 years.

The research of media literacy has been widely accepted in Chinese academy in the past five years after the concept of media literacy was introduced to China in the end of 1990s from the West. With the development of new media and media convergence, media education is confronted with new challenges in China and in the world as well. Media literacy should be studied beyond the individual level. It should be considered as a workable strategy for most of the institutions in the new media age to improve their performance at different levels.

Professor Zhang believes that it is a good platform for students and researchers to revisit media education and media literacy from their own background and to share experience and learn from each other.

Jin Muranen 7.5.2014

Manisha Pathak-Shelat – a researcher of media and youth civic participation – discussing about the future of Media Education

Media Education Futures Conference 2014 includes a panel discussion about conference main topic, the futures of media education. One of the panelists, Professor Manisha Pathak-Shelat, comes from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She has a long professional experience in communication practice, research and education. Pathak-Shelat describes herself as “a communication teacher-researcher a sense of social responsibility and a keen interest in creative work.” As a goal she names a socially engaged scholarship which is both global and accessible.

Manisha Pathak-Shelat is interested for example in civic engagement, young people’s media culture and media literacy and gender. She considers “Digital Youth Cultures in Small Town and Rural Gujarat” to be her most important publication. It turns the spotlight on a group which is not so common in a research: young people. It also synthesized empirical data and theory.

You can find details of the paper on her academia.edu profile.

“I am very hopeful about the future of media education”, says Manisha Pathak-Shelat. The subject has sustained its interest and every year new groups of people get interested in it. Also people working with media education are very dedicated.

Besides the good points Pathak-Shelat mentioned some concern. Media education has not attained its due importance at higher education level: The number of university teachers and researchers in the area is not so high. Another worry is the situation of media education in national policy of countries. Finland is among the very few countries that have seriously addressed the issue.

When Manisha Pathak-Shelat was asked what are the benefits from attending Media Education Futures 2014 Conference, she mentioned three points: A vibrant dialogue with colleagues from all over the world, sharing strategies and ideas and finding some possibly ways to collaborate.

This blog text was based on a short interview and an abstract text.

Anne Heinonen 6.5.2014