Why we need Media studies, not more ICT.

School systems remain wedded to the idea of pen and paper scholarship. Alarmingly, public education is dabbling with allowing publishing giant Pearson administer trials of online exams. Despite over a decade of opportunity, innovation is limited to exchanging paper exams for electronic ones though a commercial out sourcing arrangement, which presumably means no more HSC making money and valuable experience for teachers.

Media studies has long been argued for in the curriculum. Interestingly, the introduction of computers had been a significant reason the system has avoided introducing it as a valid discipline. This is even more relevant today in a media rich society and media poor one. The digital divide grows because of inequity and competing agendas leading to anything but a uniform, measurable approach to all children being given the elusive lessons of digital citizenship, self mediation and critical knowledge needed to be information fluent,  brand dependant.

Games would be part of media studies, as would designing and critically appraising media. Trading teachers in a new needed area makes more social sense than training the 40,000 in Australia in disciplines for which there are no jobs. One problem is that in university, media studies and education are two separate schools, and it’s dangerous to assume university lecturers in education know much about media studies. The end result is a system which cannot produce media teachers or employ them because the system fears media studies would be disruptive. And why not, despite a century of media development, schools have ignored it.

I said this is because of computers. That seems counter intuitive, until you start to also think of what they are for … information communication technology (ICT). Information is not media. What began, ans is still commonly applied as office automation skills, blindly fumbled its way into using the internet. Teachers pushed the boundaries in isolated cases ten years ago to use web 2.0 which really served to further allow the system to represent computing skills with media studies. It’s across the curriculum right?

Well no. Its as across the system as biology or business studies. Its as foundational in society as mathematics, yet no teacher is trained, no curriculum raised and no qualification achieved. The current situation is useful to systems in so much add it’s cheaper to pay dangerous experts, unqualified to teach adults or in media to talk about media and design than it is to deal with the need for media studies schools.

I appreciate some teachers do a great job with media. At best this is the 1% that invest thousands of hours a year in their own learning, not the pathetic mandatory hours most teachers put in. In the face of growing media forms and controversies, successful societies will the the ones who take media studies a priority. I seriously fought Australia’s modernist hegemony well do this.

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