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Article

Nicole Mockler

Over the past 30 years, a growing field of scholarship has explored the relationship between education and the media. Scholars within this field have explored representations of education, schooling, teachers’ work and students in print and other news media, utilizing approaches that include critical discourse analysis, news framing analysis and, more recently, corpus-assisted discourse analysis. The relationship between these representations, public understandings of education and education policy has also been explored in the research literature, with a focus on the complex interplay between media discourses and public policy around education. The emergence of social media and the engagement of both educators and members of the general public on social media around issues related to education has seen this relationship shift in the first two decades of the 21st century. This, along with the growth of computer-assisted research approaches (including corpus-assisted analysis and network analysis, for example) has brought new theoretical and methodological possibilities to bear on the field.

Article

Stuart R. Poyntz and Jennesia Pedri

Media in the 21st century are changing when, where, what, and how young people learn. Some educators, youth researchers, and parents lament this reality; but youth, media culture, and learning nevertheless remain entangled in a rich set of relationships today. These relationships and the anxieties they produce are not new; they echo worries about the consequences of young people’s media attachments that have been around for decades. These anxieties first appeared in response to the fear that violence, vulgarity, and sexual desire in early popular culture was thought to pose to culture. Others, however, believed that media could be repurposed to have a broader educational impact. This sentiment crept into educational discourses throughout the 1960s in a way that would shift thinking about youth, media culture, and education. For example, it shaped the development of television shows such as Sesame Street as a kind of learning portal. In addition to the idea that youth can learn from the media, educators and activists have also turned to media education as a more direct intervention. Media education addresses how various media operate in and through particular institutions, technologies, texts, and audiences in an effort to affect how young people learn and engage with media culture. These developments have been enhanced by a growing interest in a broad project of literacy. By the 1990s and 2000s, media production became a common feature in media education practices because it was thought to enable young people to learn by doing, rather than just by analyzing or reading texts. This was enabled by the emergence of new digital media technologies that prioritize user participation. As we have come to read and write media differently in a digital era, however, a new set of problems have arisen that affect how media cultures are understood in relation to learning. Among these issues is how a participatory turn in media culture allows others, including corporations, governments, and predatory individuals, to monitor, survey, coordinate, and guide our activities as never before. Critical media literacy education addresses this context and continues to provide a framework to address the future of youth, media culture and learning.

Article

Kathy A. Mills and Len Unsworth

Multimodal literacy is a term that originates in social semiotics, and refers to the study of language that combines two or more modes of meaning. The related term, multimodality, refers to the constitution of multiple modes in semiosis or meaning making. Modes are defined differently across schools of thought, and the classification of modes is somewhat contested. However, from a social semiotic approach, modes are the socially and culturally shaped resources or semiotic structure for making meaning. Specific examples of modes from a social semiotic perspective include speech, gesture, written language, music, mathematical notation, drawings, photographic images, or moving digital images. Language and literacy practices have always been multimodal, because communication requires attending to diverse kinds of meanings, whether of spoken or written words, visual images, gestures, posture, movement, sound, or silence. Yet, undeniably, the affordances of people-driven digital media and textual production have given rise to an exponential increase in the circulation of multimodal texts in networked digital environments. Multimodal text production has become a central part of everyday life for many people throughout the life course, and across cultures and societies. This has been enabled by the ease of producing and sharing digital images, music, video games, apps, and other digital media via the Internet and mobile technologies. The increasing significance of multimodal literacy for communication has led to a growing body of research and theory to address the differing potentials of modes and their intermodality for making meaning. The study of multimodal literacy learning in schools and society is an emergent field of research, which begins with the important recognition that reading and writing are rarely practiced as discrete skills, but are intimately connected to the use of multimodal texts, often in digital contexts of use. The implications of multimodal literacy for pedagogy, curriculum, and assessment in education is an expanding field of multimodal research. In addition, there is a growing attention to multimodal literacy practices that are practiced in informal social contexts, from early childhood to adolescence and adulthood, such as in homes, recreational sites, communities, and workplaces.

Article

Jeff Share, Tatevik Mamikonyan, and Eduardo Lopez

Democracy in the digital networked age of “fake news” and “alternative facts” requires new literacy skills and critical awareness to read, write, and use media and technology to empower civic participation and social transformation. Unfortunately, not many educators have been prepared to teach students how to think critically with and about the media and technology that engulf us. Across the globe there is a growing movement to develop media and information literacy curriculum (UNESCO) and train teachers in media education (e-Media Education Lab), but these attempts are limited and in danger of co-optation by the faster growing, better financed, and less critical education and information technology corporations. It is essential to develop a critical response to the new information communication technologies that are embedded in all aspects of society. The possibilities and limitations are vast for teaching educators to enter K-12 classrooms and teach their students to use various media, critically question all types of texts, challenge problematic representations, and create alternative messages. Through applying a critical media literacy framework that has evolved from cultural studies and critical pedagogy, students at all grade levels can learn to critically analyze the messages and create their own alternative media. The voices of teachers engaging in this work can provide pragmatic insight into the potential and challenges of putting the theory into practice in K-12 public schools.

Article

Frank Serafini

Visual literacy was originally defined as a set of visual competencies or cognitive skills and strategies one needs to make sense of visual images. These visual competencies were seen as universal cognitive abilities that were used for understanding visual images regardless of the contexts of production, reception, and dissemination. More contemporary definitions suggest visual literacy is a contextualized, social practice as much as an individualized, cognitively based set of competencies. Visual literacy is more aptly defined as a process of generating meanings in transaction with multimodal ensembles that include written text, visual images, and design elements from a variety of perspectives to meet the requirements of particular social contexts. Theories of visual literacy and associated research and pedagogy draw from a wide range of disciplines including art history, semiotics, media and cultural studies, communication studies, visual ethnography and anthropology, social semiotics, new literacies studies, cognitive psychology, and critical theory. Understanding the various theories, research methodologies, and pedagogical approaches to visual literacy requires an investigation into how the various paradigm shifts that have occurred in the social sciences have affected this field of study. Cognitive, linguistic, sociocultural, multimodal, and postmodern “turns” in the social sciences each bring different theories, perspectives, and approaches to the field of visual literacy. Visual literacy now incorporates sociocultural, semiotic, critical, and multimodal perspectives to understand the meaning potential of the visual and verbal ensembles encountered in social environments.

Article

Lisa Marie Blaschke and Svenja Bedenlier

With the ubiquity of the Internet and the pedagogical opportunities that digital media afford for education on all levels, online learning constitutes a form of education that accommodates learners’ individual needs beyond traditional face-to-face instruction, allowing it to occur with the student physically separated from the instructor. Online learning and distance education have entered into the mainstream of educational provision at of most of the 21st century’s higher education institutions. With its consequent focus on the learner and elements of course accessibility and flexibility and learner collaboration, online learning renegotiates the meaning of teaching and learning, positioning students at the heart of the process and requiring new competencies for successful online learners as well as instructors. New teaching and learning strategies, support structures, and services are being developed and implemented and often require system-wide changes within higher education institutions. Drawing on central elements from the field of distance education, both in practice and in its theoretical foundations, online learning makes use of new affordances of a variety of information and communication technologies—ranging from multimedia learning objects to social and collaborative media and entire virtual learning environments. Fundamental learning theories are being revisited and discussed in the context of online learning, leaving room for their further development and application in the digital age.

Article

Linda Hargreaves and Julia Flutter

Internationally, the status of teachers is fraught with ambiguity, contradiction, and complexity. Status, simply defined as one’s “standing in society,” has undergone many redefinitions as lives and societies have become more nuanced and complex. Status, historically ascribed through inheritance and wealth, has been largely replaced by status achieved through individual effort, study, and achievement. The medical, legal, and clerical professions have traditionally enjoyed high status for their specialist qualifications and social responsibility, although the correlation between academic success and the comfortable family socioeconomic circumstances in which many aspiring to these professions also lends them a large element of ascribed status. Teachers experience a status paradox. For many, teaching has been a route out of the working class toward a more professional status. Teachers, in many countries but not universally, are highly trained, well qualified, dedicated, and trusted in their communities. Relative to the medical profession, however, teachers are poorly paid, and experience poor working conditions, limited professional autonomy, and high accountability. Their participation in trade union activities prompts debate as to whether teaching should be classed as a “profession.” Yet, despite the 1966 UNESCO and the International Labour Organization’s strong recommendation that teaching should be recognized as a profession and accorded high status, it remains at best a semiprofessional occupation. There is great variation across the globe in public respect and government treatment of teachers. International comparative surveys lack overall consensus but suggest that teachers in Taiwan, major Chinese cities, and Finland enjoy high status as compared with those in Brazil, Israel, and Italy, for example. Classic theories of status include those of Karl Marx and Max Weber. For Marx it is determined by socioeconomic status, but for Weber cultural and social affiliations can outweigh economic factors. Teaching straddles the two. Twentieth-century theorists, such as Talcott Parsons in the United States, have linked status to educational achievement. Pierre Bourdieu relates status to social reproduction of social class-related “habitus” in taste and consumption and Anthony Giddens to individual lifestyle choices not necessarily related to status. Recent research in England supports Weber’s cultural determinants, but international surveys reveal complex and debatable relationships between pay, student performance, and status. High percentages of the public think teachers deserve higher salaries that are linked to performance. Teaching as a lifestyle choice still appears to be motivated at least as much by intrinsic, “psychic” rewards as by well as extrinsic ones. Teachers rate their own status lower than do those who work with them. A recent international survey of teachers found over two-thirds in general, and over 95% in Sweden, France, and the Slovak Republic, thought teaching was not valued in society. The portrayal of teachers in the media may be relevant here. While this has become more positive in tone and prominence in England since the 1990s, there are wide cultural differences internationally. Improving teacher status is a complex challenge. Potential contributory factors include higher entry standards and competition to join; the creation of professional associations, as opposed to unions; improved and safe conditions of work; higher pay linked to performance; professional autonomy and involvement in decision-making; and teachers themselves rating their status more highly. The UNESCO Global Sustainable Development Goals for Education 2030 provide a set of overarching aims for the future of teacher status, envisaging teachers not as adults in a child’s world, but as orchestrators of national sustainable development.

Article

Byabazaire Yusuf, Lynne M. Walters, and Abdul Halim Mohamed

Social media platforms have emerged as a powerful communication strategy for school leaders, whether within a school or in the community as a whole. The potential for the heads of school to improve leadership connectedness and efficiency lies in the proper selection and use of available social media tools. This would consolidate their position and influence in a 21st-century learning environment. Social media tools provide efficient means for school leaders to mobilize and to build consensus on important matters among their subordinates or stakeholders before arriving at a final decision. They also can use social media tools to shape a vision of academic success for students, motivate academic staff in carrying out their duties in a diligent manner, and build support for their efforts by communicating directly with parents and the community. By spearheading the use of social media strategies, school leaders can inspire teachers to embark on a pedagogical shift by putting real-world tools in the hands of students. This would allow students to consume information, as well as to create artifacts of learning to demonstrate conceptual mastery. Students would become more motivated through active engagement and achievement by focusing on improving essential skills, such as collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, and global connectedness. Allowing for distant access, social media also enhance the management zone and extend learning beyond classrooms and schedules. Because social media resources are varied and evolving, school leaders can establish an empowered and dynamic learning community of educators in which skills, knowledge, and thinking would be shared among them through Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). Leaders also could form their own Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) to meet the diverse learning needs of their schools, acquire and share resources, access knowledge, receive feedback, connect with both educational experts and practitioners, and discuss proven strategies to address teaching, learning, and leadership concerns. Furthermore, a school leader can create specific social media channels to collectively engage teachers, heads of departments, coordinators and community leaders. This would enhance the sharing of instructional ideas and strategies, policy issues, and positive aspects of school culture that promote community pride. In this way, a school would not only provide a healthy environment for sharing ideas and collaboration, but would improve the teaching and learning process and attract the enthusiastic participation of stakeholders in school affairs. Lastly, school leaders can employ social media platforms to engage the outside community in an appropriate manner to improve their institutional image and relationships with others. Thus, a vibrant social media strategy would provide an efficient means to manage content and communicate the most accurate, timely, and relevant information, based on appropriate levels of transparency. It would also provide a means of interaction between the school leaders and community stakeholders, enabling them to keep these community stakeholders updated on either the current or most important aspects or events within the schools, hence promoting community participations in school affairs.

Article

Schools have traditionally been viewed as socializing institutions, and expectations encountered across the educational profession have typically brought administrators to the forefront of the most complex cultural issues experienced across the nation. While growing social instability abounds and fuels an expansion of targets for widespread intolerance, it is increasingly evident in 2020 that the footings upon which racial tolerance was seemingly being built were likely never as solid as was once thought throughout the United States. Contemporary school leaders are expected to face increasingly complex challenges every day. These demands draw them further into a conflict-ridden reality where they are called upon to broaden their cultural awareness and increase their direct connection to the communities they serve. In light of these developments and especially factoring in the escalating intrusions from social media, it is clear that practices once employed to introduce and instill racial understanding within school administrator candidates are in need of updating. If these efforts are going to be successful in effectively supporting equitable leadership in our schools, this updating needs to be geared toward reinforcing and even expanding insights and abilities well beyond the traditional introductory considerations that have been advanced by training models to this point.

Article

Michael Wright and Rosemary Papa

The educational environment of the 21st century is complex and dynamic, placing demands on school leaderships that are both considerable and constant. Societal challenges such as school shootings, drugs, alcohol, and other problems are more frequently finding their way into U.S. classroom settings, which only further complicates the role of the superintendent. At times, superintendents may believe U.S. public schools are under attack, especially given prevailing political forces driving the marketization and privatization of schools. The elements connected to the sustainment and sustainability of superintendents, especially superintendent turnover, as a result of the following pressures are defined: school safety and security, social media, less parental involvement, and increased federal influence; continued divestment in public education and declining student enrollment; and pressure to perform by public school administrators. Superintendent departure research further considers: factors contributing to longevity and the cost of turnover; differences between superintendents and board members; reasons superintendents leave; stakeholder expectations and political pressures; increased accountability; and differences in expectations between the board and superintendent. Sustainable leadership is required between the superintendent and the board. Teamwork leads to greater effectiveness. Overall, the result of increased competition and dwindling levels of federal and state school funding very often means superintendents face complicated choices and difficult dilemmas—particularly relating to the allocation of scarce financial resources. For instance, school leaders nationwide are frequently forced to balance the tension existing between academic and non-academic programs, in a time when funding is woefully insufficient. Superintendents must often forgo hiring additional teachers, or purchasing required classroom support materials, and forgo school facility repairs, in order to enhance school safety and security. The increased accountability for school performance also weighs heavily on administrators, faculty, and staff, and especially the superintendent. Such pressures increase the level of superintendent turnover.

Article

Subjective well-being (SWB) emphasizes individuals’ emotional evaluation and cognitive appraisal of life quality, taking life satisfaction (LS) (both general and specific), positive affect (PA), and negative affect (NA) into consideration. Traditionally, SWB research has been conducted on adults; that on adolescents and young students has been limited. Moreover, SWB has generally been explored as an outcome variable related to people’s learning, work, relationships, and health. However, SWB should be considered a dynamic and agentic system that may promote an individual’s self-development as well as social development. Among student populations, SWB has been proven to affect academic achievement, health, and developmental variables such as personality, life quality, school engagement, and career development. Schools and higher educational environments are not only places in which young people acquire academic knowledge and capacities; they are also places in which students connect with others, develop their personalities, experience all facets of society, and construct their life meaning, sense of self-esteem, and career identity. Furthermore, from a developmental and constructive perspective, some empirical evidence supported the idea that SWB may be a pivotal variable affecting student development. Nevertheless, whether SWB can benefit development among young students is controversial, as is whether SWB is a predictor of individual development or a developmental outcome. Therefore, in examining the research beyond the relationship between SWB and health or academic achievement, studies on the contribution of SWB to student development must be reviewed.

Article

Fiona Scott and Jackie Marsh

The study of digital literacies in early childhood (0–8 years) is an emergent and fast-growing area of scholarship. Young children’s communicative practices are today more complex and diverse in scope than ever before, encompassing both “traditional” reading and writing and a growing range of “new” communicative competencies across multiple digital media contexts. Scholars are increasingly interested in children’s literacy practices outside traditional print-based texts, and the theory of multimodality helps them to understand children’s communicative practices in relation to a range of modes, including those present in digital technology. At the same time, the boundaries between what constitutes “digital” and “traditional” literacies are themselves blurred. Multiple academic disciplines have contributed to our understanding of children’s digital literacy practices. Numerous definitions for digital literacy or literacies exist, and scholars have proposed a range of theoretical approaches to the topic. Bill Green’s “3D model” of literacy provides a useful starting point for understanding the different dimensions of children’s digital literacy: operational, cultural, and critical. It is acknowledged that children’s digital literacy practices are specific to particular social and cultural contexts. In particular, scholars have identified important differences between accepted literacy practices in schools and early years’ settings (“school literacies”) and children’s literacy practices in a socioculturally diverse range of home settings (“home literacies”). A growing field of research is explicitly concerned with the unique skills developed at home, as children learn to produce and interpret a range of “new” digital and multimodal texts. At the same time, numerous scholars have suggested that there is still a general lack of progress with regard to early years’ practitioners’ use of technology in the curriculum. Gaps and absences in knowledge still exist, and it will be important for scholars over the coming years to continue research into young children’s digital literacy practices, both in homes and communities and across early years’ settings.