Perspectives to debate

ICTs have deeply changed the situation in terms of educative and cultural products et services, youth’s cultural practices, educationnal entities’ positioning and of course essential competences that young people have to master in order to act as a citicizen in the knowledge society. In front of this new educational environment, what is at stake could be elaborating a new media literacy, even new types of literacies, integrating the profound modification constituted by the transition from the state of reader (of texts, sounds, images) to the state of actor.
The key concept of media education would no more be representation (what we know about the world mainly comes through what mass media tell us), but rather communication. With the development of storytelling practices (through games, social networks or blogging platforms and through the building of virtual identities or avatars), media education has to emphazise the concept of fictional based media, beside the traditional information based media approach. Therefore we should have to redefine types of skills according to the different types of literacies.

Observations and studies have showed a series of gaps that school hardly takes into account: intergenerational gap, gap between home and school, gap between media educators /media education approach and ICT teachers / job-based teachers’ practices.
- The intergenerational gap has to be re-observed. If in numerous European countries, educational systems launch huge campaigns of laptops distribution designed for both school and home use (with a recent example in Portugal), or of digital platforms supposed to facilitate the communication between families and school, many studies show the limits of these institutional responses. New social practices could change the intergeneration relationships context : some research results seam to indicate, in Italy, that video games and participatory web uses could favour the sharing of competences and appetences within the family.
- Mediappro research results showed at what point young people consider home and school as two separated universes in terms of digital media uses. This gap strongly restricts learning transfers, and in a wider sense the development of a cautious, responsable and autonomous control by young people of ICT devices that are existing or will exist.
- In many countries, we can note a quite complete lack of porosity between two educational digital media approaches, which could revitalize the well-known opposition between education about media and education through media. On the one hand (Andrew’s reference), resulting from the arts and culture trend, media education considers the media as a cultural object as such ; according to this trend, aren’t virtual worlds or video games artistic and cultural objects that have to be studied at the same level as litterature ? On the other hand, resulting from sciences and information trend, ICT approach considers these media as tools and resources that serve learning and teaching, with a focus on a job-based approach through the concepts of instrumented teacher practices ou instrumented student learning. In front of the risk of development of parallel trends, one of the challenges for educational systems may consist in establishing transversal paths between these two ICT approaches.

- Which ways do recent research results about media appropriation pave for educators?
- Which educational practices could not only favor a real mastery of digital tools and resources, but above all develop both creativity and critical thinking in the digital media usage?
- Between the integration of progressive forms of play into educational process and the rejection of anarchic forms to the private sphere, what could be the role of school in front of these new practices and new objects (video games, participatory web and social networks) belonging to the popular culture?
- Is there a risk that the concept of creativity, which could bring together ICT in education and media education, eclipses other key concepts of these new literacies, such as critical and cultural approaches ?

Isabelle Bréda, october 2008

The Faro seminar asked us to consider the question of ludology in relation to media literacy. This seems to me to raise four questions for media educators to consider.
Firstly, ludology suggests in general terms theories of play, and how they might apply to media education. For me, a relevant model here would be Brian Sutton-Smith’s book The Ambiguity of Play, which suggests different, and often conflicting, rhetorics of play. The rhetoric most comfortable for educators and parents is his idea of ‘progressive play’, meaning safe, pro-social, developmental play. When we study media texts in the curriculum, or bring them into the home, teachers and parents are more likely to feel comfortable with films or games that fit this category. However, the Mediappro and Educaunet results show us that young people are not only attracted to risk, but that it is an essential feature of their growth. In this case, we need to consider media texts which fit better under Sutton-Smith’s categories of chaotic, anarchic, risky play – his rhetorics of Phantasmagoria and Fate.

Secondly, ludology is, as it has been proposed by Gonzalo Frasca and others, the study of games. It reminds us that media education proposes learning about the media, rather than learning through the media. If we have previously made the case for learning about important cultural forms such as films and comicstrips, we must now make the case for learning about games.

Thirdly, the field of ludology brings with it a conceptual framework which is different from the ones media educators have been used to applying to older media, especially film and television. In relation to the understanding and design of games (and we should introduce school students to both, as Nelson says), it involves key concepts such as ‘rules’ and ‘economies’; and the grammar of games is a grammar based on conditionality. Our research with game design software and children has shown that these new concepts not only gives them new understandings of computer games as a cultural and textual form; but extends their existing of narrative structures in older media.

Fourthly, and more generally, a ludic approach to the media cultures of children and young people reminds us that these cultures are dominated by imaginative fictions, fantasy, roleplay (whether in MMORPGs or more generally in the participatory internet). These cultures are very different from the world of online information imagined by many educators and policymakers (though it is true that teachers and parents may well inhabit such cultures, but lack the pedagogic frameworks to include them in educational programmes, as Pier Cesare has argued). There is a danger that media literacy policy and practice, therefore, is being driven by instrumental requirements to teach children to decode information (this is the culture of ICT education as Isabella has referred to it); when in fact we should be helping them to navigate imaginary worlds, roles, narratives and dreams. Media Literacy is not the same as digital literacy or e-learning – and a ludological approach should help us to make this distinction stronger.

Experts: Andrew Burn, Nelson Zagalo, Pier Cesare Rivoltella, Isabelle Brèda, Faro 2008.

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