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It is difficult to characterize the modern condition of media education objectively; nevertheless on the whole I believe it is worth positive evaluation. Among the definite achievements are:
-launching web sites for media education since 2000 (http://edu.of.ru/mediaeducation, http://www.medialiteracy.boom.ru, http://www.mediaeducation.boom.ru;
-getting an official status as a specialization in pedagogical institutes (since 2002);
-establishment and regular distribution of the new academic magazine Media Education (since 2005);
-growing number of monographs, teaching manuals, articles, dissertations related to ME;
-support of ME in Russia (since 2004) by the Russian Committee of the UNESCO program “Information for All” ((http://www.ifap.ru) and the Moscow UNESCO Office.
The main challenge to my mind is that the society at large (including many official educational structures) is still not aware of the tangible necessity for the active integration of ME on a large scale.
If we mean media education for masses, at least on the basic level of media literacy, then it is represented by the poorly coordinated actions of enthusiasts. There are plenty of examples of integration of media related courses into the school curriculum (the country is indeed very big). But by no means have they produced a system. The same is true for the higher education. Most typical here are the attempts to establish the societies or clubs of student journalists. Modern computer equipment of some schools let students publish a school newspaper. But the samples I see look too amateur. The situation is slightly better in children’ out-of-school centers of young journalists, where instructors are often experienced journalists or university professors. That’s the case with St. Petersburg. For several decades has been functioning the department of photo correspondents headed by the excellent specialist in press photography P.Markin. Still the specialists in the field of journalism remain the main “resource” for media education, although we cannot consider this practice to be the media education in its broad context. Unfortunately the information about ME is disseminated among the teachers of journalism only fragmentary, patchy; moreover the majority of them know almost nothing about it. I can state it with all the responsibility due to my contacts with colleagues. However the reports on key ideas and foundations of media education and media criticism are always arousing great interest among them.
The scattered efforts of media educators-enthusiasts are replaced by the all-Russian movement of media education proponents- the representatives of education, journalism, sociology, etc. Important role in its promotion was played by the Association of Film and Media Education of Russia and personally by its president Alexander Fedorov. The resulting union of teachers and researchers, constant discussion of media education problems on the pages of the magazine and Internet sites, dissertations and organization of conferences- all these factors contributed to the greater consolidation of the theoretical framework of ME. These are the main achievements of the recent years. In our opinion, misfortunes, problems of Russian ME first of all result from the absence of systematic media education in secondary schools, legitimacy of media education major in pedagogical institutes (although students can choose ME as their minor since 2002), which is absolutely necessary for the pre-service teacher training. Today there’s much discourse around “information society”, “mediated society”. But we do not see the adequate reaction of the education system to the need of the preparation of new generations of citizens for life and activities in information saturated society. This training can be realized through mass ME, starting with secondary school level.
Achievements: increasing awareness of the importance of media education; more courses for teacher training; Failures, problems: the worldwide consent of “quality” in education which is purely based on the notion of evaluation/assessment/ranking takes a reductionistic view of what education is/should be. This is why approaches which cannot be measured in all their aspects are neglected in school teaching.
Improving in the U.S. Better national organization than in the past.
In New Zealand. media teaching in generally in good health and in a state of continuous growth, both at the secondary school level, and in the tertiary sector. It has official recognition and support, in the former sector, through being included as the subject area Media Studies in the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA), as well as Scholarship. NCEA is the major educational framework across the country, and in 2005 nearly 10,000 students were studying NCEA Media Studies. Media also remains as a major strand (Visual Language) in the national English curriculum.
The major achievements have been this official recognition, whereby Media Studies beside more traditional subjects such as English and History. There has also been strong growth in the tertiary sector, with a wide range of media-related teaching.
The media teachers' organisation (National Association of Media Educators) continues to take a leading role in promoting the subject, resourcing, and having direct input into assessment and moderation of NCEA Media Studies.
Some problems remain -- some universal, some particular to New Zealand circumstances. Teacher training institutions continue to ignore media training (despite its strong presence in NZ education) but graduates from tertiary courses are beginning to make an impact. Easy access to up-to-date resources is a problem but this is improving, through resource-sharing, NAME-sponsored workshops and bi-annual conferences, and Ministry of Education support (e.g. in developing web-based resources).
There is a need to develop closer co-operation between secondary and tertiary media teaching (the focus of my current research project). Debate continues about the desirability (pros and cons) of a national curriculum/framework. In the meantime, NCEA Media Studies provides a 'proxy' curriculum.
I evaluate the current state of ME in Russia as stabilized. Among the achievements one could note the activities of ME centers in universities, and research laboratories (e.g. Belgorod, Voronezh, Ekaterinburg, Irkutsk, Kurgan, Moscow, Omsk, Perm, St. Petersburg, Samara, Taganrog, Tambov, Tver, Tolyatti, Tomsk, Chelyabinsk).
I think that ME in Russia has gotten some official recognition recently, and this time not only due to the individual efforts of its advocates, but also due to the support of UNESCO program “Information for all”, research grants of the Russian Foundation for Humanities, Program of the President of the Russian Federation, Ministry of Education and Science, etc. However it should be noted that the definition of the key concept of media education discourse- media literacy- still provokes heated discussions among colleagues from adjoining academic subjects.
Before answering the questions, I would like to say that I am not in position to judge the media education state in the whole country; I am going to speak only about some problems that according to my pedagogical and administrative experience are critical. This local objective to some degree I think will let as well highlight some common problems of my colleagues from the Association for Film and Media Education in Russia.
Film education in All-Russian State Institute of Cinematography (VGIK) is going through a very difficult time period again. The history of the first Film Institute in the world, beginning from its foundation, knows a lot of examples when so-called well-wishers talked about the crisis of the system of education there and the need for its reconstruction. Fortunately every time when such campaigns emerged (from back in the 1920s till some recent publications), the state policy relied on the sound decisions and promoted the preservation and development of the Institute’s school, which traditions became the basis of the world cinematography education.
Today unfortunately, the crisis is experienced in all main components of the educational process.
First, since 1990s- due to the extremely low level of the wages, - the renewal of the faculty has almost ceased. Intergenerational continuity was disrupted. The old generation goes away. The middle one, unfortunately, does not become younger. And the representatives of the young generation of the faculty (many of whom are in their forties) do not see any prospect in their professional activity, therefore teaching becomes a second, part-time job, and sometimes they abandon it at all.
Secondly, during the last decade the general level of education in this country has “crashed”. A school-leaver of the 21st century doesn’t know what an encyclopedia is, can’t use the original sources. I am not an opponent of new technologies, but when from serving as up-to-date tools they turn into the foundation of a human’s development, the process of the development of the Humankind stops. A considerable part of the young, aspiring to a cinematography education can’t think, but believe that trade skills are the foundation stone of a cinema profession.
And finally, thirdly, the gap between the modern film, television, video production and the technological basis of the training film studio of VGIK has widened. If in the 1980s, in spite of some underrun its condition allowed graduates to feel confidently at the production set, then now, after 20 years, the VGIK graduate as a rule has to study the technical basis of his affiliation from scratch.
However we do encounter the reverse process, when production companies direct their employees to study in VGIK. It is also problematic because the production studio can’t afford “losing” an employee for a long time, and VGIK in its turn can’t be responsible for the quality of educational programs if they are too limited in time.
This leads to the unfair criticism of VGIK for alleged unwillingness to account the production interests on the one hand, and on the other hand- the emergence of the numerous educational structures, referring to the faculty and teaching programs of VGIK, but in fact having the agenda of giving out higher education diplomas, often illegitimate “on the conveyor line”. It is not accidentally that these structures come and go, because in their majority they are built on the principle of a financial pyramid, where there’s no place for real knowledge.
In Georgia, there is no media education literature. So, in our country, there are no achievements, no failures and problems. Georgian office of Inter-news has translated in Georgian and published some educational books and brochures in the last 6 years, but this is nothing compared to the amount of literature in other countries. The College of Media, Advertising and TV Arts buys some media education books in Moscow, with the help of individual persons. After 15 years less and less people speak Russian. It is the opposite situation with the English language - 99% of youth know it, but teachers do not.
In Norway media education is fairly good. Best results are achieved
in secondary school and high schools/universities. The subjects "media
education" and "media and communication" exist in several gymnasiums,
the latter of a more practical character, where production is mostly
involved. These are among our most popular subjects. The main drawback
is that media education, which is thematically obligatory in many
subjects down to primary school, is still not obligatory for future
teachers. Some schools also lack necessary equipment.
The main event of the recent years- is the opening of the journal “Media Education”, established by the Russian Committee of the UNESCO program “Information For All”, the Moscow Office of UNESCO and Russian Association for Film and Media Education. This publication has already begun implementing its main function: to unite individual enthusiasts of media education around the country. Unfortunately, we are still on our own. All vertical connections have collapsed. State organizations as well as public (including the Union of Cinematography of the Russian Federation, that earlier provided substantial support) do not show any interest to ME.
Under these circumstances horizontal connections became common, that is contacts directly between cities, schools, institutes, colleagues. As an example, I’d refer to the union of two universities - Tver and Voronezh, resulting in publications, summarizing the experience of media educators in both institutions: articles, and the textbook “Film in Education of Youth” (Tver, 2005, 188p.). This book is unique because it presents the cinema art peculiarities, basics of methods of using film in education to teachers and parents in a concise form. But the edition is tiny - 100 copies, for a huge Russian territory, its schools and universities remain unavailable. Academic magazines (including ‘Media Education’) published enthusiastic reviews, but the authors could not find the supportive government or public organization to publish the sufficient edition of copies. This example proves the fact that ME in this country is still at its initial stage of development; the state system of ME has not been created yet.
We are still at the initial stage of development of ME, although enthusiasts (to name the foremost in our country - definitely Alexander Fedorov, his team and followers) have already initiated and implemented a lot. Way to go!
Media literacy education in the U.S. is in its early childhood and growing. AMLA the Alliance for a Media Literate America (http://www.AMLAinfo.org) the nations first membership organization for media literacy educators, is now just five years old.
We are still slowed by debates between those who see the primary purpose of media education as teaching about the effects of media, seeing media as something to teach against, and those who ground media education in an expanded notion of literacy, focusing on teaching critical thinking skills and developing sound pedagogical strategies. We have also been slowed by a significant lack of funding and failure to agree on one overarching term (so people remain scattered, calling their approach information literacy or technology literacy or critical literacy or media studies or media literacy education, etc.).
Despite the difficulties, there has been a boom of youth production classes and projects that include media literacy instruction. And the notion that media education should be integrated into the curriculum rather than simply added on as an additional course or topic seems to be taking hold (see, for example, Project Look Sharp at Ithaca College, www.ithaca.edu/looksharp).
We have also been very successful at expanding the ranks of the leadership in the field of media literacy education. Ten years ago, the inner circle of leaders was probably no larger than 20 people. Today, AMLA alone has 5 times that many people taking active leadership roles, either nationally or in their communities.
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