Thursday, September 13, 2018

Literacies and participations: from practice to (critical) reflection #ReDMIL2018

The final keynote from ReDMIL I will be liveblogging is that of Maria José Brites (Universidade Lusofona do Porto, Portugal), talking on Literacies and participations: from practice to (critical) reflection. Her publication citations list is here.
The first question she posed was - do we need new research methods, can we continue to use the old, should we be developing hybrid methods? Secondly, characterising herself as an audience researcher, she asked what methods we can use to capture that moment in time when people are using new media. Thirdly she asked about the place of participation and reflection in research (and associated questions, like the impact of participation on people in their daily life).
Brites referred to a publication she had co-authored Methodological challenges in the transition towards online audience research. They came up with four challenges: (1) the expansion of online ethnography (which has varieties and labels such as net ethnography, virtual ethnography, cyber ethnography), and the importance of contextualisation (so seeing online in the context of the whole life - I will mention that there is interesting work from the ethnographer Tom Boellstorff arguing that this is not always necessary) (2) the influence of big data (3) reliance on mixed methods, and using research methods with different philosophies in one project (4) the ambiguity of online data and ethical issues that arise when you are doing online research. The ethics include issues of what is public and what private, and whether the particiapnts whose data is being used understand the implications of participating in research.
Brites identified Paulo Freire as important for her when considering issues of critical thinking and digital life. She pointed out that "connecting daily practices and reflexive thought is not a new idea" since it had already been developed by Freire. These aspects were important for participative methodologies. Brites emphasised the importance of being theoretically strong, but that when you are carrying out a research project, it was also a dialogue between the theory and the data.
Brites moved on to "learning by doing" and said she was fond of the European Commission's Key competencies for Lifelong Learning (2006). These include competencies in communication in mother tongue and foreign languages, mathematical and scientific competences, digital competences, "learning to learn" competences, social and civic competences, entrepreneurial competences, and cultural awareness. I most easily found the page about the 2018 review of the 2006 competencies. Brites regretted that this recent review left out "learning to learn" competences, and the earlier framework was the one that they used in a very recent project about young people and digital media, RadioActive. Brites also mentioned the DigiComp 2.0 framework.
She went on to talk about the Young People, News and Participation project, the RadioActive project , the ANLite project, and they have a new project about digital and civic literacies in juvenile delinquency institutions.
Brites firstly talked a bit more about the one year Media in Action project (part of DGConnect, I think this is the website This involves gathering togther material and ideas created in previous projects, so that teachers can use them in practice, and it also has a digital storytelling strand.
She then explored the methods used in the project on young people, journalism and participation. There were 35 young people of various backgrounds involved, and the methods included direct observation, interviews, and focus groups, on a longitudinal basis. The longitudinal aspect enabled the young people to be more reflexive. For example in a second semistructured interview the participants were asked to bring along information or conversations they had used during the political campaign that was going on at the time. The participants were also shown the results of the first interview, so they could discuss that, and new interview questions were introduced on the basis of findings from the first interview. Additionally, the young people became "quasi researchers", interviewing peers. This article talks about the research.
Brites moved on to the RadioActive project (there is an article about it here, it was focused on competences assessment). It was looking at young people in low income areas, who had to produce online radio shows. As part of this, they were asked to do interviews with people on the street, which was challenging for the young people, but they found it improved their confidence in general communication and in creating material for the radio show.
The ANLite project involved enquiring with journalists, young people, parents and teachers about their media, news and digital literacies. An area of concern for Brites was that these people mostly had to learn these literacies by themselves, because the education was not embedded elsewhere.
Finally, the new project involves working in three educative centres for young offenders, with about 70 people. It will be an interesting issue of what methods to use in this challenging context (and altogether sounds an interesting and challenging project!)

I will be finishing up the ReDMIL coverage tomorrow, with a blog about my own keynote and one or two wrap posts, including talking about the doctoral contributions to the summer school.

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