EUROMEDUC – 3rd Seminar in Faro at the University of Algarve

The third and last Seminar of the preparatory cycle for the final congress, organized in the context of the European project, EuroMeduc, was dedicated to the subject “Media Literacy and Appropriation of the Internet by the Youth”, and took place in Faro, Portugal, at the Research Centre for the Arts and Communication – CIAC, Faculty of Human and Social Sciences of the University of Algarve between the 16th and the 18th October 2009.
This report provides a synthesis of the discussions and, more specifically, the conclusions regarding the strategies and recommendations on Media Literacy and Media Appropriations by Youth, that were made by the experts and practitioners who presented their initiatives and projects on these fields during the Seminar.

The understanding and the capacity of process analysis within Media Literacy and Media Education is an increasing and urgent necessity, given the influence that the new media exert in the life styles and behaviors of all citizens, but specially upon those of the younger generations.

It was as an answer to this necessity, or call, that several media professionals, teachers, researchers and other representatives of institutions and organizations working within the fields of media literacy and media education shared their experiences and their practices as well as their reflections which leaded to the following opinions, recommendations and conclusions.

The awareness and the development of different processes that may lead to different degrees of media literacy constitute a major challenge for each one of the state-members of the European Union, as well as for Europe and the world.
Proceeding the development of the other two seminaries, this third one also counted with the participation of several researchers, mainly from Europe, but also from other regions, who debated innumerable questions and presented their perspectives about how to allow the development and the use of educational tools, in present times and in the near future, that would help the young generations to better develop a critical and informed attitude related to the media. In such a way, with this seminary it was intended to promote a wide reflection about the Internet and its Media Literacy forms, allowing the identification of different necessities and providing the elaboration of different educational proposals, such as training programs, pedagogical tools and other application devices, modalities and strategies.

Thus, among the different plenary sessions and workshops there were established several discussions with the specific scope to argue and approach the different ways and proposals of media literacy and media education that can be observed within the institutional educative system, in general, but also within the world of extra-school activities and initiatives.

The seminary begun with the intervention of Michel Clarembeaux, from the C.A.V. de Liége in the first plenary session, mainly with the analysis of the concept of media literacy, detaching the importance of «teaching how to use», to analyze and to produce audiovisual media. Michel Clarembeaux presented a model/proposal for media education concerning cinema as a medium, which would be supported in three principles: film screenings, film analysis and film basic production. This proposal was presented as a concrete contribution, developed and tested before with young Belgian students to open the debate with a specific starting point for the more general discussions.

Regarding film screenings, it would be necessary that the students acquired basic knowledge of some reference works in order to understand the narrative process of any sequence of images. As for the film analysis, this would be the moment where it would be possible to make a global reading of the films or of their choosen sequences. In this line several elements would be clarified which would allow the interpretation of diverse inherent codes to the cinematographic language, making possible, in such a way, the understanding and the interpretation of the diverse esthetical and technical elements. Finally, regarding the elements of basic film production, he stated that it is essential that the student is capable to think about images and sounds, in order to be a producer of them through the same codes and through the same language. Beyond being a method to learn the cinematographic elementary environments, it is supposed to result into a sufficiently motivating strategy from the pedagogical.

According to the author, we come across with a large offer of supports and devices in the scope of the new media, which are more important for the new relationship that can be established between the users and these resources than for the mediatic performance they were eventually conceived . In this context the author detaches the playful environment, characteristic of the digital space - cyberspace, that generally provoke some dispersion and conflict situations, but that also offer mechanisms of identity affirmation and belonging to a community, probably a virtual one, but still a community.
Relatively to the use of the new media, this researcher and media educator stated that its use is a possible way of developing some desire to see and to analyze other cinematographic contents, of other cultural, ethical and aesthetical nature than the most predominant ones, providing thus the necessarily elements of a new culture of responsibility that may be adopted by the youngest audiences, as well as by the producers that have them as a target group.

Michel Clarembeaux defends that Media Education, will allow the production of a more personal cinema, more playful, as well as the development of new skills and abilities concerning this medium.

Almost on the contrary of the former specific proposition, in the presentation of the second key note speaker, Alton Gryzzle, from UNESCO, presented a global vision of “information literacy” versus “media literacy”. According to this author, there is a need of differentiation between these two concepts, having been proposed diverse definitions for these assignments.

For that purpose the UNESCO specialist mentioned some initiatives, in which he has participated, specifically in the training of teachers and in the support of world based research , among other global activities. Alton Gryzzle detacheed that nowadays, contrarily to what used to happen before, the education no longer faces the information storage as a challenge, instead it supports the need to learn and to process that same information, which is stored through the old and the new media every day within each educational process, formal and non formal. The main aspect to be concerned with is the fact that those educational processes need to be guided towards the knowledge and information handling instead of data storage. For moreover, the concept of instruction has changed and as such, the pupils beside having the skills that allow them to read, to write and to calculate, will also have to learn on how to evaluate and to use the information through the traditional and new technologies.

The speaker presented how UNESCO has been involved in diverse projects destined to promote Media Literacy in all levels of different educative processes: teacher training, basic and secondary education and long life learning, besides establishing guidelines and policies to promote the curriculum development regarding those issues.

This speaker mentioned that along with the fast growth of the ICT and the consequent convergence of the traditional means of communication and new technologies, the application of general media education methods has necessarily to deal with all media forms and supports, independently of their nature and of the technologies that maybe used. He also referred that media education/literacy must always be put in context even if in general we consider it one more facilitator in the relationships between nations and regions. And finally, the actions taken by UNESCO were mentioned once more to confirm that the engagement of this organization is ensured, especially in the already refered areas of teachers’ training, research support and curriculum development. In what concerns the Internet, Grizzle stated that UNESCO puts lots of questions regarding its appropriation, reinforcing the need of developing a strategy to bring together rich and poor countries.

The official Experts of this Seminar, Andrew Burn form the Institute of Education of London University, Pier Cesare Rivoltella of the Catholic University in Milano, Nelson Zagalo of the University of Minho and Isabelle Bréda from the CRDP-Marseille, were then invited to comment on the ideas of Grizzle and Clarembeaux.

The main ideas and those who generated more comments were:

The distinction between information literacy and media literacy (Andrew Burn used the word appreciation to separate both) was a key idea, with the experts considering it’s difficult to have them fused in just one concept, even though that was the ideal situation.

The main goal to achieve is to overcome the limitations of all determinist communication paradigms and to promote a more cultural vision of media/media education/media literacy.

It’s important to use the new media, in order to understand all their dimensions, whether they are connected with contents or connected with functional aspects.

A sequence of several workshops approaching the diverse thematics that somehow were generated by the key note presentations took then place, of which it is relevant to mention the following aspects:

Andrew Burn referred the traditional division between Arts and Sciences that has become obsolete with the current status of games and other new media. This happens because the production of games and other new media requires both technical skills and aesthetical notions. With the new media there is a transformation of the artistic and literary tradition. Now a days we witness how historical icons are undervalued and that a cultural unification is occurring. This expert also mentioned the necessity of approaching the educational value of “gaming” in the age o new media (again the distinctions between learning through media or about media was pointed) and the idea of developing a model that contemplates the 3 C’s (culture, critical, creative). This expert also brought up the need to have different approaches on these subjects, but approaches that promote a top down and bottom up analyses/work.

Alton Gryzzlei emphasized the European ethnocentricity in the approach to new media and the necessity of valuing other approaches. Also he pointed out that the UNESCO recommendation leads to a global perspective and not a variety of agendas in a process of cross-fertilization. This idea was supported by all the other experts and by all the participants in general.

Nelson Zagalo sustained the following main ideas:

Different languages imply different ways of thinking, of interpreting the world around us and the use/analysis of media. This vision is important, specially when lots of money is being spent on investigation that aims to provide a global perspective on this subject (specially the investigation made in the USA). We also need to consider that different youngsters, with distinct backgrounds, have a different relationship with media.

Technology is not a big monster; technology can be a big opportunity and media literacy is more and more needed not for young people, but for adults, so that we can understand that technologies are what we want them to be. Using technology provides us with the tools to face the dangers. We have to use, to understand.

Crossing media and art is more and more important and it’s important to promote the cooperation between different areas of knowledge.

Isabelle Bréda emphasized the importance of the quick development of social software and digital media. The main character of these media is that with them it becomes really easy to produce messages and publish them in the public space, since audiences become authors and consumers become producers, although this process may increase the already existing appropriation gaps between the older and younger generations on one side.

Pier Cesare Rivoltella pointed out that what we are seeing now is that the critical thinking paradigm – typical of the Media Literacy tradition – is no more enough: it educated readers, but nowadays we have authors. We need to form them to be responsible, asking to them to develop the same sense of responsibility we were asking to televisions until few months ago. Now, our pupils must become responsible for their contents: we must make them able to know what and how to publish in the public sphere respecting other people’s rights – a citizenship paradigm. So, what we see in the perspective of a Global Media Literacy is the need of a double turn: a turn from a determinist paradigm to a cultural one – media aren’t devices, they are cultures – it’s not enough to introduce them for having changes, it needs to study their culture and a turn from the critical thinking paradigm to a new paradigm more concerned with the active citizenship of the youth.

Other participants from different countries presented their research and experiences in different ways of approaching Media Literacy and Media Education within the context of Internet, which gave origin to a final kind of general «road mad» about these issues from the Faro Seminar to the Congress in Bellaria, including the final evaluative appreciations by Thierry de Smedt, from the Catholic University of Louvain-La-Neuve, in the quality of independent project evaluator.

Thus, considering the Faro Seminar conclusions, the aim of the congress, regarding the questions of Media Literacy and Internet Appropriations by Youth, should include:
1. To bridge the gaps, through the discovery of the relations between the institutions’ and peoples’ practices in school and in real life interaction with media.
2. To develop new methodologies: education methodologies and research methodologies that imply cooperation, dialogue, creativity, as well as looking in at an ethnographical point of view, civic active perspectives and experimentation.
3. To discuss themes that may contribute to develop solutions within the main frame of different representations, appropriations, values, diversity and cultural identity.

Faro, Vítor Reia-Baptista
CIAC/UAlg
(Centro de Investigação em Artes e Comunicação da Universidade do Algarve)

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Organisators

Média AnimationUniversity of the Algarve
Le ClemiZaffiria

Partners Congress

Evens Foundation  PEGI
European Newspaper Publishers' Association  Media Coach

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