Thursday, September 13, 2018

Addressing curricula as policy: steps and methods for a critical assessment of media education content in school programmes #ReDMIL

Normand Landry (TELUQ) gave the next keynote I'm liveblogging at REDMIL18, Addressing curricula as policy: steps and methods for a critical assessment of media education content in school programmes.
Theoretical knowledge, policy, teaching practices, competencies to be developed by learners, and the policies, social issues etc. around the concept of "media" all have to be considered in this context. Landry felt that there had not been enough research looking at how these factors are interlinked and interact (how they are articulated). (National/ regional) school curricula also formed an important linking role, and there were a number of questions that can be asked about curricula (e.g. looking at the discourse used in curriculum documents). This talk focused on work in Quebec in researching curricula (for evidence of media education) this way, and describing the exact process they used.
Discourses. prescriptions and goals were three key aspects of the documents being analysed. It was also valuable to look where the media education content was situated (in which other disciplines), which had implications for teacher education and practice in those disciplines. Finally, mapping this content to media literacy competences, or a media education framework, gives an idea of how adequate the content is.
Landry went on to explain how they had approached the project in Quebec. He gave a brief sketch of the complexity of the Quebec school curricula (see photo).
Step one involved reading all the documents, taking note of all the issues related to the points above (e.g. what discourses are being used, what words and phrases are useed, what strikes you as problematic). After this unstructured close reading, a second more structured reading and coding is needed. At this stage it was important to remain objective, in order to bring out the meaning of the document/writers (rather than the preconceptions and terminology of the researchers).
Talking about discourses, Landry gave illustrative quotations e.g. the curriculum document asserting that children would be "amazed and fascinated" by media productions. Looking at action verbs, they picked out the verbs and verb phrases e.g. "develop" "give them opportunities". The researchers developed a table of players (e.g. students), actions (verbs) and the learning objects. The objects of learning are the things that the verbs applied to (e.g. distinguishing "different types of media"). The "extraction sites" were the parts of the curricula in which the content were found (e.g. history). The above can be used to generate a keyword list to search the documents thoroughly (or also, I think as a preliminary or comparative tool for others' research?)
The results are a refined table of actors, verbs, objects of study, and extraction sites. This can be used for second phase research, using these lists to start conversations with teachers about how and whether they implement this. The results were finally compared in this study to a relevant matrix of media literacy competences (I think based on this This reveals the conception of media education embodied in the curriculum, enabling the researchers to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the curriculum, where different types of media literacy were developed etc.: this is evidence which can be used to interact with policymakers as well as practitioners.
There have been a number of analyses of media literacy or information literacy documents in different countries, and I think this research is a useful model for approaching this systematically. 

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