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.



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