March 2023 MES report – Carol Arcus

 In Blog, Carol Arcus, Directors, Executive, media literacy, Professional Development, Resources

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March 2-4, 2023

MES report – Carol Arcus


Virtual Educologies as Third Spaces: Valuing children’s voices in cultural media production

John Potter1, Michelle Cannon1, Saskia Van Roomen2

The study explores the emergence of new educational spaces in the digital realm, focusing on youth engagement in film production within challenging contexts. The research delves into two key projects: one centered on play during the pandemic and another collaborating with the London Film School to explore how children use film language in an international workshop. Utilizing virtual platforms, young participants collaborated with media professionals, curating the self into the experience of lockdown, and creating valuable moving image texts that contributed to both creators and audiences, prompting inquiries into equality, diversity, and inclusion within creative media programs. 

The study highlighted the contrasting influences of virtual and real environments on children’s active engagement, stressing the crucial need to involve even the most reserved participants. Central to the primary objective was the amplification and meaningful response to children’s voices while documenting their portrayals.

In Ukraine, the study showcased compelling experiences working with children wherein filmmakers skillfully imparted film techniques without imposing preconceived storylines. This approach allowed the children’s lives to subtly infuse their artistic expressions. The concept of “serious play” resonated strongly, illustrated vividly by a young filmmaker’s creation of everyday life sequences featuring cats on fences, encapsulating profound themes of resilience and adaptability. Rap narratives like “COVID GONE,” crafted by a 10-year-old, underscored the immense potential of film in capturing adaptations to loss and shaping personal experiences within limitations. His verse poignantly expressed, “It’s not a rap; It’s not a rhyme; It’s just things happening over time… I’m just thinking; COVID GONE.”

Overall, this research underscores the significance of virtual learning environments in empowering children through creative media, spotlighting their distinct viewpoints and lived experiences. They are thinking about the craft, but their life comes through in an oblique way as they “curate the self” into the experience of lockdown.  Children take pride in their work when making in a professional context – not in the classroom.


Collaborative Student Documentary Production with Migrant Communities in Bari, Italy.

Christopher Hall, Saskia Wilson

The core objective of this project revolved around elevating the often marginalized narratives in from the mainstream Northern European landscape. The intent was twofold: to unearth those lesser-told stories while fostering collaborative opportunities with migrants. It went beyond mere academic exploration, aiming to embolden students through immersive learning methodologies, nurturing their capacity to construct compelling documentary narratives. At the heart of this endeavor lay the goal of humanizing individuals—going beyond numerical representations and political rhetoric—shedding light on the experiences of migrants and those actively engaged in integration activism.

It suggested that documentaries can change the way people think.

I asked Christopher Hall, “What challenges prompted you to think that it might not be working? And how did you solve them?

He said they faced numerous challenges: budget constraints, logistical issues related to students’ accommodations and meals, equipment problems such as sand interfering with kits, language barriers requiring extensive clarification, and cultural differences affecting schedules and priorities. The primary concerns involved students’ focus on socializing and partying, sometimes detracting from the course’s effectiveness. Additionally, there were incidents like car accidents that added to the challenges.


Building Critical Media Education: From Classroom to Community

Min Tang

University of Washington Bothell, Bothell, USA

Min Tang spoke about teaching critical media literacy pedagogies to faculty student teachers, including media production. These teachers were asked to propose a workshop for high school students around themes of social justice. (She works with school districts to set up this learning experience.) Some examples of these were popular topics like Disney images; or race gender in video games. The student teachers had to then develop and give the workshop to classroom students.

  • She formed a partnership between her Critical Media Literacy course & local school district’s Racial and Educational Justice Team
  • Goal: Extend media education beyond university to local community, promote social justice, and raise media awareness among youths
  • Four-year project:
    • Students design Media Education Workshops on identity politics in media (gender, race, ethnicity, (im)migration)
    • Aim to enhance high school students’ awareness on these issues
  • Selection:
    • Panel of school teachers and equity specialists pick top three workshop ideas
    • University students refine and present workshops at Students Justice Conference hosted by the school district
  • Learning outcomes:
    • Students apply media advocacy knowledge to empower themselves and minority communities
    • Promote media literacy for diversity and equity
  • Co-education model:
    • Specialists and coordinators from the school district contribute expertise in youth education and community outreach
    • Provide feedback on projects and deliver guest lectures on social justice, inclusion, and intersectionality
  • Empowering process:
    • College students share knowledge and passion, engaging younger generations in media education and public involvement.


Gateways and radicalization: The rhetoric of anti-vaxx

Michael Hoechsmann1, Bhargavi Kumaran2

1 Lakehead University, Orillia, ON, Canada. 2 Vellore Institute of Technology, Chennai, India

Summarized abstract:

The pandemic spurred notable public opposition to vaccinations and mandates, culminating in the formation of the anti-vaxx movement, an amalgamation of diverse political and social groups. This project entailed data scraping and visualization using Twitter data from the initial six months of 2022, coinciding with the events around the Canadian capital’s occupation. Their research identifies intersecting points among users entering conversations from varied pathways. This anti-vax movement, encompassing long-standing vaccine skeptics, right-wing dissidents, and anti-state actors, operates within a highly polarized landscape, increasingly embracing conspiracy theories like the World Economic Forum’s Great Reset. However, the emergence of rigid, conspiratorial thinking presents a profound challenge to media education, hindering its ability to flexibly challenge diverse ideas and ideologies.

Key points:

  • Is this a New Age World?
  • Oral cultures – narrative – story – how we make sense of the world
  • Festive element of trucks gathering –  element of needing community during COVID?
  • Protest in this era – ‘’BIG’’; BIG Pharma BIG elite
  • Memes – communication and social media – eg Trudeau in uniform
  • Their data: started with keywords, eg sheeple; Crunchy – granola eaters
  • How did social media vs mass media impact perceptions?


Developing children’s algorithmic literacies through curatorship as media literacy.

Amanda Levido, Annette Woods, Michael Dezuanni, Aleesha Rodriguez

Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia

Partial abstract: “Young children were involved in creating and collating digital artefacts responding to the prompt ‘See me use technologies to learn’. We invited children to curate these artefacts in ways that made sense to them, through narrative or thematic re-imaginings. We present findings of this process and detail the aspects of media literacy that were observed to have been developed by the children, including collating content to engage audiences with themes or narratives. We analyse the collections produced by the children to consider further opportunities to develop media literacy with young children.”

Five children aged 0 to 8 engaged in activities designed to encourage critical thinking about artificial intelligence (AI) through curation. The children were tasked with taking ten photos of technology that intrigued them, which were then displayed. Levido then curated a selection of these images, initiating discussions with the kids about her choices. This prompted the children to curate their own selections, doubling the number of images. Following this, the kids crafted explanations for their curated choices, aiming to convey what someone would need to understand about them based on the content. Their discussions revolved around the connections between images and their practical uses, emphasizing what information would be essential for others to grasp about them. The constraint of having only ten photos significantly influenced how the children interacted with the material and shaped their explanations.

Key points:

  • How do we encourage thinking about big ideas in a short period of time?
  • Did the students make connections to algorithms?  ‘’Yes, to a degree.’’


The agency of the matter: Artifacts co-generating learning opportunities in a university makerspace

Yumiko Murai, Kristiina Kumpulainen

Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada

Abstract summary:

Higher education institutions are increasingly incorporating makerspaces into their programs to address the demand for design, computing, media, and fabrication integration in the curriculum. Makerspaces encompass diverse tools from digital fabrication like 3D printers and laser cutters to traditional craft tools such as sewing machines. Despite their educational potential, little attention has been given to understanding how materials actively contribute to learning experiences within these spaces. This paper explores a graduate-level course in a university makerspace through an ethnographic case study, highlighting how the materials within these spaces impact student motivation, learning, and agency. Findings underscore the need to acknowledge material agency in shaping students’ learning opportunities in makerspaces.

Key points:

  • What does making mean in formal institutions?
  • How do we use tech driven by our own needs, desires?
  • Material artifacts can have agency.
  • What is the role of university teachers in the makerspaces?
  • Education and classroom activities are not linear processes controlled by humans.


YouTube as an ecology for peer pedagogies and media education – the case of Minecraft Let’s Player, Stampylonghead

Michael Dezuanni

Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia

Abstract summary:

YouTube functions as a significant platform for both entertainment and learning among youth, serving as a digital space where relationships form, and knowledge and skills are shared. This perspective challenges the narrow view of pedagogy confined to formal schooling, drawing from scholarly work emphasizing the educational role of digital platforms and media within society. Within this context, peer pedagogies emerge on platforms like YouTube, notably evident in Minecraft’s representation through the ‘Let’s Play’ genre. StampyLonghead (Stampy), a prominent figure in Let’s Plays, not only entertains but also educates viewers on various aspects of the internet, gaming culture, and online safety. This paper contends that Stampy’s content delivers forms of media education, both implicitly and explicitly, within YouTube’s ecosystem. Such education is deemed authentic and engaging, offering unique potentials challenging to replicate beyond the platform itself.

Key points:

  • Peer pedagogies offer informal learning outside traditional schooling, particularly linked to media and gaming.
  • These pedagogies foster less hierarchical relationships among peers, enabling learning about games, gameplay, and social interactions.
  • Commentary and personality in content creation hold significance for entertainment purposes, fostering connections between creators and their audience.
  • Children can acquire knowledge from online figures like Stampy, who aims to educate about various topics, including Minecraft and aspects like algorithms and quality content.
  • Stampy’s “Let’s talk” series explores topics like algorithms, quality content, clickbait, and online interactions, addressing important aspects of online engagement.
  • Emphasizes the necessity of recognizing learning opportunities across platforms like TikTok, suggesting collaboration with platform experts to leverage these opportunities for media literacy advancement.


Storylistening’ as a methodology for peacebuilding among young survivors of conflict and their communities in Colombia.

Fowler-Watt Karen1, Mathew Charles2

1 Bournemouth University, Poole, United Kingdom. 2 El Rosario University, Bogota, Colombia

Summarized abstract:

The participatory arts project in Colombia’s indigenous Nasa community led to the creation of ‘storylistening,’ an alternative to qualitative interviews, serving as a peacebuilding methodology. Rooted in the oral storytelling tradition of the indigenous culture, ‘’storylistening’’ focuses on acknowledging everyday experiences, particularly for former child soldiers and young survivors of conflict. It shaped an animated documentary, ‘El árbol del amor’ (The Tree of Love), delving into forced recruitment and child soldiering. Storylistening, rooted in Durkheimian socio-emotional notions, emphasizes the sharing of emotions to strengthen social bonds, fostering collective reflection and change. Unlike individual storytelling, storylistening is a dynamic, shared process benefiting both the listener and the teller, offering catharsis for individuals and collective reflection for communities. Its impact extends to effective reintegration for former child soldiers and broader reconciliation, pivotal for peacebuilding within communities.

Key points:

  • Storylistening emphasizes emotion sharing for creating and strengthening social bonds, fostering change, unlike individual storytelling.
  • Offers catharsis for individuals and collective reflection for communities.
  • Particularly beneficial for former child soldiers, aiding in effective reintegration and fostering reconciliation, crucial for community-level peacebuilding.
  • Highlights challenges faced upon returning home, such as rejection and inability to return to certain places.
  • Therapeutic aspects include writing letters to children in the film and engaging in an intergenerational process.
  • Facilitates understanding, empathy, and the transformation of child soldiers from pariahs to individuals recognized for resilience, resistance, persistence, desistance, and post-traumatic growth.


Digital Citizenship as a Public Policy in Education in Latin America

Roxana Morduchowicz1, Zelmira May2

Abstract: While access is an essential condition to promote digital citizenship, the lack of devices has been exacerbated. Today, there are new digital gaps based on skills and practices. The digitally excluded are those who do not have the capacity to respond to the new questions and challenges posed by the digital universe. Traditionally, digital exclusion was explained by the lack of access to the Internet. In Latin America, it is necessary to talk about unequal access to technologies. While access is an essential condition to promote digital citizenship, the lack of devices has been exacerbated. Today, there are new digital gaps based on skills and practices. The digitally excluded are those who do not have the capacity to respond to the new questions and challenges posed by the digital universe. By understanding the principles that govern the digital world, citizens are able to analyse the role of technologies in society. By knowing how to critically evaluate on line content, people can use reliable information to make informed decisions. By understanding that there is nothing neutral on the web, people are able to think of their digital identity. 

Key points:

  • Disparity in tech and internet access exists.
  • Mere access is insufficient; critical understanding is crucial for safety in digital spaces.
  • Emphasizes empowerment, critical thinking, and active participation.
  • Context and goal revolve around fostering a democratic environment in digital spheres.


Digital Citizenship Education: perceptions on the concept and self-reported competences of Georgian school society

Vitor Tomé1,2, Marika Sikharulidze3,4, Sofiko Lobzhanidze3,5, Giorgi Urchukhishvili3

1 Autonoma University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal. 2 CIES-ISCTE-University Institute of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal. 3 Ilia State University, Tbilisi, Georgia. 4 BTU University, Tbilisi, Georgia. 5 National Center of Teacher Professional Development, Tbilisi, Georgia

Exploratory project on Digital Citizenship Education (DCE) conducted within the Georgian Education system aiming to identify core steps needed to infuse DCE in educational policy and school culture through pre-service and in-service activities.

Data were collected from a total of 1954 individuals, among teachers (205), students (972), parents and guardians (777), following an exploratory sequential design (qualitative + quantitative). Data analysis revealed that school society members are aware of the DCE concept but lack proper competences to apply DCE in their everyday practice.

Key Points:

  • Digital citizenship education must align with democratic principles, emphasizing terms like ‘equity,’ ‘agency,’ and ‘democracy.’
  • Teacher training should go beyond recognizing fake news and AI’s role in social media, focusing on contextual knowledge within the broader political landscape.
  • Emphasizes the necessity for community-driven and contextualized projects.
  • Advocates for transparency and preventing the dissemination of misleading information.


PANEL: Artivism to promote a South-to-South Dialogue

This panel, convened by Andrea Medrado and Isabella Rega, brought together academics and artivists to reflect on the topic of artivism and how artivism can support a Global South dialogue to promote global social justice and to launch the new book: 

Medrado, A. and Rega, I. (2023). Media Activism, Artivism and the Fight Against Marginalisation in the Global South. Routledge.

In the first part of the session two experimental animations celebrating two black female activists were screened: “Portrait of Marielle”, produced in Kenya by young artivists within the AHRC eVoices project and a sister animation produced by N’gendo Mukii with Brazilian artists with support from the Goethe Institute in Salvador de Bahia, “Homage to Wangari Maathai”. After the screening, Milena Anjos, Paula Callus, A-zee Cotpel, Marina Lima and Judith Lumumba participated in a roundtable and shared their perspective and experiences as scholars and artists involved in the two projects.


Empirical Study of Media Literacy Education incorporated in Colleges-based “English Journals” Course in China

Qing Xu

Nanjing Audit University, Nanjing, China

Summary of abstract:

The main topic is the notion of Media Literacy (ML) theory globally and in China, examining its teachability. An audience study explored the learning needs of college-based ESL learners in ML, shaping teaching goals and a backward-designed syllabus. A controlled experiment introduced structured pedagogical stimuli to advanced ESL groups, measuring ML competence through pre and post-tests. Key findings revealed inadequacies in the learners’ “create and produce” ML competence, with a preference for high-traffic over lighter news. Proficient learners excelled in seeking regional and professional news. Motivated subjects in the experimental group showed a tendency to choose geographically proximate news post-teaching. Chinese English newspapers remain the primary news source, outnumbering US and UK sources, although these two countries serve as major information providers in foreign media for the learners.

Key points:

  • ESL learners display inadequacy in the “create and produce” dimension of Media Literacy (ML) compared to a 5-dimensional ML framework.
  • Preferred journals among learners tend to focus on high-traffic news, but those adept at information gathering locate regional and professional news.
  • Subjects motivated to acquire ML knowledge tend to choose geographically proximate news compared to the control group.
  • Chinese English newspapers are the favored news source, outnumbering US and UK sources, which remain major information providers in foreign media for the learners.

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