Innovative practices of integrating media education into formal education, the transformative power of artificial intelligence and its implications in the field of media education, useful approaches and tools in teaching media education, information and media literacy – component of pedagogical professionalism are some of the topics discussed in four workshops by the participants of the second edition of the Media Literacy Forum, organized on October 26 in Chisinau.
The workshops were held with the participation of experts Bahia Albrecht of DW Akademie Germany, Arminas Muse from Lithuania, Svetlana Babenko from Ukraine, Monica Halaszi from Romania and Natalia Grîu from Moldova. The sessions aimed to highlight the good practices of teaching media education at international level and to make a useful exchange of experience, in the context of piloting the project on the integration of media education content into core school subjects.
Innovative practices to integrate media education into formal education
At the workshop moderated by Natalia Grîu (Moldova) and Arminas Muse (Lithuania), the participants discussed innovative practices of integrating media education into formal education. Connected to the discussion online, Arminas Muse briefly outlined Lithuania’s experience in the field of media education, noting that “in Lithuania this process began in 2005, and since then there has been not only intense lobbying, but also a lot of resource investments in training teachers, creating programs and guides in the field of media education.”
“Digital competence is the ability to use digital technologies to accomplish various tasks, learn, solve problems, communicate, create and share digital content effectively, securely and critically. Disinformation is not limited to one area. Respectively, by studying media education in all subjects, students learn to identify prejudices, inaccuracies and false narratives, whether they are reading about historical events, scientific discoveries or literary criticism. Different disciplines often use specialized digital tools, from data visualization software in mathematics to video editing tools in the arts. Media education is the field that can ensure that students use these tools competently,” the expert said.
Natalia Grîu noted that in the context of the information war, which is becoming more and more aggressive, it is very important to develop a critical mass of people who ask themselves questions and do not blindly believe everything they hear, see or read. “In education it is important to understand how necessary it is to reach the level of mass awareness of some processes or phenomena. This is where the role of media education and you as teachers comes in to educate the younger generation to form their own opinion. When we have a sufficient critical mass in society, it will be hard to accept disinformation and manipulation. Until then, however, we must help students to develop their critical thinking skills, whether we do this in media education classes or in other subjects,” Natalia Grîu said.
The transformative power of artificial intelligence
Bahia Albrecht, a German digital expert with six years of experience at DW Akademie, spoke to participants of the workshop she moderated about the transformative power of artificial intelligence and its implications for media education. Bahia Albrecht explained in context how content-generating AI tools work and how algorithms influence our choices. The expert showed the participants how, in a practical way, reality can be distorted through AI tools that generate content. Bahia Albrecht also challenged teachers to think about new approaches to learning and teaching, about remodeling activities, homework and assessments.
Media and information literacy
Expert Svetlana Babenko from Ukraine spoke to participants in the workshop she moderated about digital literacy, the challenges she faces, as well as how she manages together with her colleagues to adapt to the new realities.
Speaking about the role of the teacher in the development of critical thinking of students, the expert urged the participants to make a portrait of the media consumer and of an informationally literate teacher. During the discussions, it was recognized that in order to develop critical thinking and media skills in students, first of all, it is the teacher who needs professional training in this field. “The teacher needs critical thinking, creativity, communication, cooperation and digital skills in order to develop a new approach in the training and teaching process. A teacher must know how to create, process, search and understand different content. He must also know how to solve various tasks with the help of the computer and the internet, be able to efficiently and safely use a computer and, last but not least, have the skills to communicate with other people on different platforms,” Svetlana Babenko concluded.
Useful tools in teaching media education
Monica Halaszi, an expert and professor at the Liviu Rebreanu National College in Bistrita, Romania, shared with the teachers present at her workshop some techniques for infusing the elements of media education that she uses in the discipline of Romanian language and literature. “With the approach of integrating media education content into the discipline I teach, I rediscovered canonical literary texts. From the comedy of social and political mores O scrisoare pierdută [A Lost Letter] by Ion Luca Caragiale, which I teach differently, to the novel Patul lui Procust [The Bed of Procrustes] by Camil Petrescu or Moromeții [The Moromete Family] by Marin Preda and so on, I see a lot of places where media infusion can be done,” Monica Halaszi says.
From the expert’s observations, for students who are used to learning conventionally any novelty is surprising and very easily digested, because it is something else. “In the students I work with I see the desire to approach the literary text from the perspective of real life. They want to learn that the text they analyze teaches them something – how to be, what to do, or, on the contrary, what not to do. They want to see that the text is not just a text, but a sample of real life imagined. It is the duty of teachers to help children develop the skills to analyze, understand a text, create a media content. Although curricular programs do not target media education, teachers are aware that there is a need to do so. Currently there are pilot schools teaching media education in every county in Romania,” the expert noted.
Opinions and impressions of participants
The masterclass sessions were attended by teachers who underwent specific training in this field and are teaching the optional discipline Media Education in educational institutions.
Tatiana Catanoi, teacher of Romanian language and literature, Ursoaia Gymnasium, Causeni district
“I came to the Forum to gain experience in the field of teaching media education. I have charged myself with a lot of positive energy that I will necessarily pass on to my colleagues and students. In particular, I am fascinated by what we discussed during the workshop with trainer Natalia Grîu and expert Arminas Muse from Lithuania, who came with the experience of his country and a total openness and support for what we do individually. This further motivates me to promote critical thinking among students, to persuade them to see and understand more deeply and complexly the information with which they interact. In this way, we form healthy values and skills that better prepare them for life. Therefore, the role of teachers in the process of integrating media education elements into the teaching of other subjects (Romanian language and literature, history, foreign languages) is a necessity.”
Irina Adam, teacher of French at the Mihail Berezovschi Theoretical Lyceum with Arts Profile, Chisinau
“I wanted to participate in this event and I’m leaving satisfied. My first training in media education radically changed the way I structure my course. I try to develop critical thinking in students – I help them discover how to look at a material in the media differently, read it differently and understand it better. I always say that we, the teachers, don’t bring the media into the classroom. Media is their life, and they must discover and understand it with discernment. At the workshop moderated by expert Svetlana Babenko from Ukraine I understood that it is very important to teach children to distinguish between content and form. Details are very important, and we must pay attention to them. They are the ones that form the overall view of things and phenomena, of reality in general. I admit, what I heard was a discovery for me.”
Rodica Bogdan, geography teacher at Miron Costin Lyceum, Floresti
“The workshop ‘Approaches and Tools Useful in Teaching Media Education’ was particularly inspirational for me. I discovered some ideas that I would like to integrate in geography lessons, although the examples we discussed referred to the discipline of Romanian language and literature.”
The Moldova Media Literacy Forum is part of the project “Media Enabling Democracy, Inclusion and Accountability in Moldova” (MEDIA-M), funded by USAID, the British Embassy in Moldova and implemented by Internews in Moldova, which aims to promote the development of independent and professional media and to create a media sector more resistant to political and economic pressures. Also, the event is held with the support of the project “Strengthening of media and information literacy (MIL) in the Republic of Moldova: Piloting the integrative approach in formal education”, implemented in partnership with Deutsche Welle Akademie and with the support of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany (BMZ).