Hello HASTAC Scholars! My name is Ava. I am a first-year PhD student at the University of Sydney and I am looking forward to exchanging ideas with you this year! In my first blog entry, I would like to introduce my project and research questions. Any suggestions or ideas are welcome!
The Information Revolution
New media technologies have led to an educational revolution which challenges the traditional marriage between learning and schooling. Education is now perceived as a lifelong enterprise, as learning occurs more and more outside school, through online learning, home schooling, workplace learning, distance education, learning centres etc. (Collins & Halverson, 2009). Even school-aged children now learn important skills outside school curricula, through interactive technologies such as computers, the internet and video games. Moreover, this type of technology-driven learning is often perceived as more engaging and motivating than traditional classroom learning (Gee, 2004). Contrary to traditional schooling, which is characterized by uniformity, authoritative instruction and teacher control, technology-driven learning is characterized by customization, interaction and learner control. Media and education researchers are currently exploring the educational potential of these interactive media technologies.
Where does that leave television (and other traditional media such as print or radio) in terms of education? Previous research shows that television has the potential to teach (Cahn, 2011; Klein, 2011; Lesser, 1975; Noble & Noble, 1979; Pepper, 2011; Tulloch & Lupton, 1997; Tulloch & Moran, 1986). Like new media technologies, television can teach outside school and promote lifelong learning. But if interactive technologies are the driving force behind the Information Revolution, the idea that television could contribute to this revolution seems anachronistic. Through customization, interactivity and user control, new technologies are able to teach the thinking skills that children and adults need in the digital era. Television, on the other hand, is not an inherently interactive medium: its content is not easily customized or controlled by viewers and it does not offer any feedback. If television teaches, it does so by simply transmitting facts through unidirectional communication, in a more traditional and “authoritative” manner.
How can we integrate television in current education?
Studies show that the medium of television is still present in children’s lives (Ofcom, 2011). What is uncertain is whether it can contribute to the digital age Information Revolution, and how it can be integrated into modern education. My research project, entitled “Television as a teacher” aims to understand the educational function of television in the lifelong learning era. In particular, I am interested in finding ways to use television in the modern classroom which fully exploit this medium’s potential. I will also examine TV professionals’ discourses of teaching and how they perceive their educational role and social responsibility.
In order to determine whether and how television can play a role in current education, it is important to fully grasp its educational potential and to understand its curriculum as well as its pedagogy. My thesis addresses the following questions: What does TV teach? Does it merely transmit facts or does it also teach how to think? How can it promote critical thinking in a way that is relevant in our current era? And how does TV teach? Does it teach exclusively through unidirectional instruction? How can television become an interactive medium? More importantly, how can TV viewing become an interactive educational activity, outside school and in the classroom?
Cahn, A. (2011). Using Entertainment Media to Empower a Generation. Learning From Hollywood, from http://www.learningfromhollywood.org/blog/2011/04/18/using-entertainment-media-to-empower-a-generation/
Collins, A., & Halverson, R. (2009). Rethinking education in the age of technology. New York
London: Teachers College Press.
Gee, J. P. (2004). Situated Language and Learning: A Critique of Traditional Schooling. London: Routledge.
Klein, B. (2011). Entertaining ideas: social issues in entertainment television. Media Culture Society, 33(6), 905-921. doi: 10.1177/0163443711411008
Lesser, G. S. (1975). Children and Television: Lessons from Sesame Street. New York: Vintage Books.
Noble, G., & Noble, E. (1979). A Study of Teenagers' Uses and Gratifications of the Happy Days Shows. Media Information Australia(11), 17-24.
Ofcom. (2011). Children's media literacy in the nations: Summary report (pp. 1-23).
Pepper, S. D. (2011). Public Service Entertainment: Post-Network Television, HBO, and the AIDS Epidemic. Doctor of Philosophy, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina. (3279605)
Tulloch, J., & Lupton, D. (1997). Television, AIDS and Risk: A Cultural Studies Approach to Health Communication. Sydney: Allen & Unwin.
Tulloch, J., & Moran, A. (1986). A Country Practice: "Quality Soap". Sydney: Currency Press.