Experts: Nelson Zagalo + Pier Cesare Rivoltella

Seminar on Media literacy and appropriation of Internet by young people
16-18 February 2009, Faro – Portugal

Expert: Nelson Zagalo

1 - Objectives

This seminar had very specific goals within the large domain of Media Literacy:

- Produce recommendations and proposals to be used by the educational system, family, industry, and public authorities.
- Develop for two specific targets: trainers and trainees.
- Trainers as adults, which could be: teachers, parents or social workers
- Trainees as pupils, from early age, above all children and teenagers.

2 – The Seminar

The seminar proceeded for three days with plenary sessions and workshops being able to stimulate discussion about the goals established as essential in the discussion. Let’s see in depth the plenary sessions.

Plenary Session I – Internet, Youth and Globalisation

This session presented us with two very interesting communications from Michel Clarembeaux (CAV-Liége), Education au cinéma et nouveaux médias and Alton Gryzzle (UNESCO), Media Literacy - Global Perspectives.

Alton Gryzzle presented his view of media literacy based in information theory and strongly concerned with the content conveyed. Gryzzle was concerned about the dark side of content, its reality manipulative powers. On the other side Michel Clarembeaux presented a complete model/proposal for the film education based in three principles: discovery, analysing and directing. Both were concerned about the content, more than the media types. There is a certain obsession about the bad influence of media content, about the misuse by evil hidden forces. From both presentations what we should retain and reflect upon, and taking into account these communications, is that “knowledge is power”. No matter what causes or goals, the most important objective concerning kids is that we need to find solutions to make the knowledge arrive at them. We need to be able to pass on them sufficient knowledge to decode media content.

Plenary Session II - Ludic, Regulation and Generations

This session gave us the inside perspective from PEGI system, by Antonio Xavier (CCE- PEGI/AB). PEGi represesnts the current classification of videogames most used in Europe. The communication was based in identifying the methodology to work collaboratively within Europe and on how to proceed with classification for game producers. Too little was said about the principles behind the real classification. Apart listing current seven descriptors used to prescribe the advised age for the game, nothing is said about the mode of application of the descriptors to the content. This was important for our seminar, because it would help people to understand how complex discussions on content can be easily and rapidly reduced to discrete elements of game analysis. Albeit PEGI being an informative database, it has great value for most adults interacting with young pupils, mainly because accessing a game is much more complicated than accessing a movie, and then PEGI could serve as a first informative entrance.

Apart plenary sessions, the seminar presented the participants with more eight workshops and presentations from all over the world on the subjects of media literacy and appropriation. In the next lines I’ll present my main impressions from the workshops within the larger perspective of the entire seminar and then finish with the perspectives for the next seminar by the end of 2009 in Italy.
3 – Main impressions
Researchers pictured a too dark and somber panorama of the media ecologies. Too concerned with manipulative powers from the mass media side and with the hidden dangers from the social web communication tools. We could feel the arousal around these subjects and on top of that the collective anxiety about the lack of knowledge of adults compared to pupils, a technological knowledge and not content critic. A generational gap which creates a digital divide separating adults from youth. On the other side we could hear presentations from developed countries (e.g. Denmark) where the digital divide is very short and even then adults don’t know, because they don’t care, whatever their youth do with new media technologies.
What we can understand from this perspective of the last developments of media and society is that we need to develop programs not only to make our pupils more conscious about the media they use, but we need also to implement programs to bring adults closer to their youth. We feel that great part of the anxiety unveiled by the seminar about the dark sides of these media technologies relates itself with the lack of communication going on between adults and youngsters. This is not a problem only of the lack of knowledge, technical, aesthetic or purely informational to understand new media and technologies but is deeper and is related with the isolation of communities and groups. Isolation not promoted by the technologies but by the velocity of life in the XXI century, not leaving space for inter-communities relation and in which the technologies only potentiate the closure within communities. Thus we see as great trouble the great quantity of information and lack of resources from humans to deal with it.
We then believe that media literacy programs should invest not only in giving knowledge to the people trough recommendations, but should strongly invest in forms to facilitate the access to that information. Making use of the capabilities of the new technologies, find new ways to improve a general and wide access to the same information level on decoding media. Knowing that people don’t have either time or motivation to pursue this learning process, we should find methodologies to make information go through and arrive where it’s needed. Approaches for this hard task would invest in the communication models to put communities talking at inter-communities level.

4 – Perspectives for the final Congress and publishing work
Our main concern and which was more emphasized during the Faro seminar relates to the need to understand the different types of media we’ve to deal with in the XXI century. These media requests for different types of accesses and so background which is needed to deal with it. Then we’re interested in working with the media from a perspective of ability to use but also to do. Mainly because we strongly believe that the best way to learn how to use media, is to experience producing and creating with them. From this perspective we’re very concerned about making the distinction between what we call: media social tools and media art.
Media social tools (e.g web2.0) relates to the new paths opened by the technologies to communicate with other human beings. On the other side Media art (e.g videogames) is worried about new models to produce and give access to content to the users.
The former is then oriented to technology evolution and the multiparticipative communication processes, how do people interact with each other. Here media literacy needs to deal with new technologies and find models to which everyone can relate and then understand. The task of media literacy is more related with the knowledge to decode technologies than with content, because content varies constantly depending on who is on the other side of the communication tool.
The second, media art, is related with content discourse and then works around the form of content produced by an author for the receiver. The task gets more complicated because it takes people on the road of interpretation of coded messages within media content, and so we need to be able to make them understand these communication codes and how to unveil them.

Nelson Zagalo
30th March 2009

Expert: Pier Cesare Rivoltella
In these few lines I try to sinthesize my comments about the Sessions I’ve participated in during the last Faro Seminar. I add to them my final considerations about a first draft of a road map to Bellaria.

Plenary 1 - Internet, Youth and Globalization

In this Session, Alton Grizzle spoke about International Policies about Media and Information Literacy and Michel Clarembeau talked about cinema and education.
Their speeches suggested to me two main considerations.
First. Alton said that Information Literacy is not only “read, write and computer”, and I agree with him when he put in evidence the necessity to talk about Media and Information Literacy in a more critical and cultural way. But it seems to me that the trend of European Governments in their policies is less cultural and more technical. This means they prefer a determinist paradigm, convinced that the power of technology can change all things. It is clear that the matter is quite different. In fact there are a lot of factors influencing learning and social interaction of youngsters with the media, i.e. their own cultures and their families cultures, teachers’ and youngsters’ practices, and so on. If we are not able to give our pupils tools for elaborating meanings they build up together with the media (cultural paradigm), I think we’ll not able to give them competencies for being citizens in the Information Society.
Second. We’re assisting to 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. Audiences become authors, consumers become prosumers. In this case the critical thinking paradigm – typical of Media Literacy tradition – is no more enough: it educated readers, but nowadays we have authors. We need to form their responsibiliy, asking to them to develop the same sense of responsbility we were asking to televisions until few months ago. Our pupils must become responsible for their contents: we must make them able to know what and how publish in the public sphere respecting other people’s rights (citizenship paradigm).
So, what I 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;
 a turn from the critical thinking paradigm to a new paradigm more concerned with the active citizenship of the youth.

Workshop 2 – Global Media Literacy: Risks and Chances

Nous avons déjà vu que au niveau Européenne il y a des convergences surtout en relation avec les politiques publiques d’introduction de la technologie dans la société et le développement des technologies mémés. Nous avons déjà parlé, en relation avec la session plenaire, de deux paradigmes dominants qui nous avons appellées: le paradigme déterministe et le paradigme de la pensée critique.
Mais il y a aussi des autres convergences.
La première est une convergence entre le pratiques d’usage et d’appropriation des jeunes. La recherche Mediappro, que nous avons terminé au 2006, a demonstré que les jeunes européennes ont presque les mêmes habitudes: ils utilisent l’internet, ils ont un portable personnelle, ils utilisent videojeux. Ils ont aussi la même tendance a esternaliser leur soi en occupant l’espace public (ce que est exactement le contraire des adultes, qui cherchent de défendre leur propre espace privé).
Deuxième convergence. Il y a une évidence très fort des pratiques a risque des jeunes avec les médias (et est important souligner que ces pratiques sont plutôt représentées par les adultes, que reconnus par les jeunes). Ils sont surtout relationées avec ce qu’ils font dans l’internet comme le risque de rencontrer pédophiles mais aussi avec ce qu’ils font avec l’internet comme le cyber-bulling.
Troisième convergence. Les adultes ils sont en retard. Ils sont en retard le parents, mais surtout ils sont en retard les enseignants. Ce n’est pas seulement un « gap » technologique; c’est a dire que le problème n’est pas le de favoriser l’usage des technologies par les adultes; le « gap » est surtout culturel. Le cultures lycéennes (pour citer les mots de Domique Pasquier) ne sont pas le cultures des parents et des adultes.
Dernière considération. Quand on parle – comme Christian Gautellier a faite soulignant la distinction entre éthique et morale – a propos de la nécessite de colloquer la question des médias et de l’éducation aux médias au niveau éthique, il faut savoir qu’il devienne de plus en plus difficile. Notre société inter culturelle et inter religieuse est une société que retourne a donner une place très important a la morale: les idéologies ne sont pas desapparus, ils sont vives et il faut de le considérer (cf. « Sciences Humaines », Dossier n. 14, mars-avril-mai 2009).

Workshop 3 - Ludic approach to media culture

Le problème principal de la session a était le de la documentation, c’est a dire le problème de la construction, archiviation et usage intelligent du savoir.
Ici est possible d’individualiser des pistes de travail très intéressants pour l’éducation aux médias. En particulier Je voie des nouveaux thèmes et de nouvelles attentions méthodologiques:
1. La démediation de médias. Les technologies 2.0 et la diffusion des téléphones mobiles introduise une grand facilité d’expression chez les jeunes, mais aussi problèmes de contrôle: quoi publier? Selon quelles critères? Ou passe la ligne de confine entre ce que on peut et ce que on ne peut pas publier? Il y a un problème évidente de responsabilité de l’émission.
2. La certification des sources de connaissance. La popularité aujourd’hui est supérieur à l’autorité. On peut voir ce que se passe avec la évaluation de la production scientifique au niveau de l’Université. A ce propos il y a un grand débat pour substituere cccritèree l’impact factor avec un nouveau cccritèreue les aaaméricainesaappellentusage factor, dans la logique du open access. C’est a dire que nous avons un passage d’un régime de vérité construit sur un ordre objectif (adaequatio rei et intellectus) vers un nouveau régime construit sur un ordre sociale: cette différence est très bien explique avec la distinction entre taxonomie et folksonomy. Le problème que nous avons ici c’est un problème de ontologie sociale (Searle) et, bien sur, de éducation aux médias: le plus voté est aussi ce que a un valeur majeur?
3. La relation entre pratiques média-éducatives et identité des enseignants. Une des nécessitées a ce propos est de passer a une pratique de recherche tout a fait ethnographique; c’est a dire étudier les pratiques de gens (et des enseignant aussi, comment la nouvelle recherche didactique enseigne) avec des nouvelles méthodologies. Ces méthodologies sont méthodologies qui travaillent sur les idées et les représentations des jeunes et des adultes en relation avec les médias: ce nous donne la possibilité de mettre en relation ce que on verbalise avec ce que il y a dans l’image mais n’est pas verbalisé par les interviewées.

Conclusions – Bridging the gaps

Finally I’d like to point pout some suggestions preparing Bellaria Congress. I imagine them like a sort of road-map to Bellaria. More precisely, they are:
 a aim;
 some methodologies;
 some themes.
1. The aim: bridging the gaps. During Faro Seminar it seems to me we’ve talked about some couple of items. Each of them represents a gap that Media Education needs to concern with, finding the ways for bridging them. These gaps are:
 regulation/education (it’s not enough to state rules or proviede policies, we need to educate youngsters);
 ethics/moral (how to discuss about media problems in education in a world who’s re-descovering ideologies on the base of fundamentalisms?);
 adults/youngsters (they have different abilities, digital immigrants the first ones, digital natives the second ones);
 institutions/practices (how foster solutions that, on the institutional level, could be more attentive to real people practices with the media?);
 schools/real life (normally schools seem really far from youngsters’ real life, their problems, their practices with the media).
2. Methodologies: peering and etnography.
Here we have two kind of methodologies: education and research methodologies.
On the education side, it seems to me that in Faro days we’ve indicated almost three main methodologies to deal with:
 cooperation, that is peer-to-peer, group work, networking;
 dialogue, that is to assume an open intercultural point of view, aimed to individualize common aspects more than enphasizing differences;
 creativity, that is learnign by doing and development of divergent thinking.
Three are the evidences also on the research side:
 etnography, that is observing and studying practices in their own contexts, with tools like focus groups, in deep interviews, and so on;
 role-play, that is the choice of active methods able to envolve pupils and teachers in education process;
 experimental, that is the need of data searched on the field.
3. Themes: practices and values
Finally we can indicate some themes that Faro Seminar highlighted, They are:
 representations;
 appropriations;
 values;
 identity.
It seems to me they could be the four key-words about

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