My colleague Tom Langston recently visited a session hosted by Learning on Screen, The British Universities and Colleges Film and Video Council (https://learningonscreen.ac.uk/) and it reminded me of a previous visit I undertook a few years ago (before Instagram!) which I thought I’d use to form the basis of this blog. One of the great things about escaping the university is the possibility to network and have discussions with professionals from other institutions and companies. Spanning business and education, it is amazing how views match or differ and hearing a different take on modern university life is insightful.
Technology is a “new” problem
A concept I encounter on a near daily basis is the trouble of meeting the modern demands of the student with technology as it has progressed at such a rate of knots, that we are struggling to keep up. Interestingly, the minutes from the council’s meeting in 1954 were shared with the attendees and the main themes and issues raised were assessing our own pedagogy, how to use new mediums in education and the advancement of technology. Issues that are very topical even in 2019.
A concept also levied at us is that the “modern student” has never been so technologically advanced. They were raised in the age of the internet and the school years were entwined with handheld device usage. They have not necessarily needed to phone up Uncle Ray or another assigned family expert to ask him about 17th century monarchs as they can “google” it. This Generation Z or iGen, as they may be referred to, use and naturally access technology in a very different way to their predecessors or their more ancient educators.
However with this is a common misconception about levels of understanding. Just because a student can use an iPhone and access film, does not mean they “know” or are experts in it.
Access does not automatically equal knowledge
Are these digital natives as savvy as we think they are? Or is it a gross assumption based on our observations of them accessing technology. HE Institutions (as well as our team) are looking closer at digital capabilities and providing support for those who need it, but do we as educators need to consider assessing the digital needs of the students rather than naturally assuming that they would want VR tours and interacting with embedded H5P content.
It draws me to the constructivist approach when teaching Primary Science in my previous life, where you would have your topic but it’s ultimately the students who govern how they are going to learn and find out things and it can result in an outcome at a far greater depth due to their immersion in the process.
A tension between form and context
Visual Literacy and the use of audiovisual also opens up an array of issues to consider. Take for example the BBC , which has an unbelievable bank of resources. The issue of copyright and ownership is a topic we have had blogs about in the past. There is a view that we need to have some buy in from the broadcasters and content owners to serve education. This would open up the concept of not just reusing sources but being creative beyond the content’s initial use. The idea of repurposing the material, taking an old thing a part and making something new with it. The BBC Archive, was created to be used by film-makers and was not necessarily intended for public consumption. It opens up a can of worms that perhaps material that looks fairly inconspicuous today, can have a massive impact in the future. This is evident due to the scandals raised by historical tweets being uncovered and the use of archived film footage in investigations into high profile court cases about abuse.
There has to be some education for students about not just the technology and media we use but the context around it.
The more we look to bring audiovisual into our teaching, the more we are going to have to look at ourselves and change how we teach. The idea that people sit in blacked out rooms watching films is an old school pedagogic view, just as the days of students being sat down talked at are no more.
There is an element of Audiovisual that gets their eyes off of their screens and onto the intended one at the front. We can use technology and platforms such as Twitter to allow students to engage on an individual basis. We must ensure that it is not a passive viewing experience but allows students to research, reference and back up their own point of view, offering the stimulus for a voice that otherwise may have stayed quiet.
The final thing to consider is the danger that if we spend too long of today worrying and focusing on “how to use technology and film” and it prevents trial, implementation and reflection, in ten years time those concerns will be obsolete and new issues will have replaced them.