Teaching Media Competency

Teaching media competency by analysing films and uploading the results onto platforms such as Reddit for honest critique

Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 2016

25 Pages, Grade: 1,0




Theoretical Part
1. Media competency
2. Online-Communication
3. Learner Autonomy
4. Intercultural Competence

Practical Part
5. Teaching Unit – American Dream
6. Conclusion


Works cited

List of figures


In recent years and decades the world has successively become more digital. The digitalisation rapidly captured the life of the people and our daily life is unthinkable without digitial devices or the internet. The increasing innovations and revolutionary development of technology created a complete different landscape for media and communication: the Web 2.0. Nowadays people almost all over the world have the possibility to access internet and communicate with each other. Besides, the world has become much more visual as TV, ads etc. were taken into a new level by the technological development. The developments inevitably influence the society and especially the new generations who grow up with the internet and are confronted daily with a visualized environment. Particularly the influence of the internet is so strong that scientists are already talking about “digital natives“.1 Even being neglected for a couple of years the education system has noticed the influence of the internet and visual aspects on the youth. Since then, media competency has become an important educational objective. Some scientists even consider media competency as the fourth Kulturtechnik alongside reading, writing and calculating.2

Against this background, the central topic that motivates this paper is: Teaching media competency by analysing films and uploading the results onto platforms such as Reddit for honest critique. This paper will be seperated in two parts: theoretical and practical part. In the theoretical part I will elaborate the theoretical framework for a teaching unit that will be presented in the practical part. To get the appropriate framework for the teaching unit we begin with taking a closer look at media competency and the corresponding literacies. Given that the results of the teaching unit will be discussed on an online platform I will take a more detailed look at online communication. Furthermore, I will explore the aspects of learner autonomy and Intercultural Competency as sort of a justification of the theoretical framework for the pracitcal part. Subsequently, I will present a teaching unit which will be about the “American Dream“. Before going on with the teaching unit a short framework for the teaching unit will be presented including a description of the class, learning goals and general information to put the teaching unit into a specific context. Finally, I will sum up my results and identify an outlook on further researches. Diverse resources – primary and secondary literature, journals – were used for the investigation of the theoretical part to show a wide-ranging overview.

Theoretical Part

1. Media competency

The new media presence induced by the technological development in the last couple of years accentuated the challenge for younger people to learn to deal with all the media presence they are confronted with in their daily lifes (cf. Bachmair 2005: 255). Therefore, media competency has been established as an educational objective in recent years (cf. Seidl 2007: 2). This is insofar important as media serve as kind of a mediator between human and his environment (cf. de Witt and Czerwionka 2007: 47). To enable them to come terms with media presence we have to teach them media competencies. There are many different concepts for media competency. For example, Dieter Baacke (1996)3 presents a concept for media competency which includes four different dimensions: critcal approach, media usage, media arrangement and media knowledge (cf. Hugger 2008: 94). As this concepts is commonly accepted it is worth to look at it in more detail. But before going into more detail about the four dimensions we have to define media comptency first. According to Kai-Uwe Hugger media competency describes self-organisation abilities with the media which means that everyone should at least aim to use the media in a self-determined and organized, reflexive and creative way (cf. Hugger 2008: 94).

Putting the spotlight again on the four dimensions we will see that these four dimensions are inevitable for developing media competency (ibd.). Firstly, critical approach means to reflect and reproduce what is conveyed through media (ibd.). Secondly, media knowledge describes the ability that people should be aware of the intention of the media as they have an informative function (ibd.). Thirdly, media usage concentrates on the receptive and interactive interaction (ibd.). Lastly, media arrangement expects people to be creative and innovative in media usage (ibd.). The importance of developing media competency and enabling a critical apporach of pupils towards media production is according to Renee Hobbs (1999)4 down to the fact that the “truth value of information has become increasingly difficult in an age of increasing diversity and ease of access to information“ (cited in Jenkins 2009: 22). While teaching media competency teachers have to reduce the dimensions didactically to make it less complex and accessible for pupils. Therefore, we have to focus on three main aspects when teaching media competency: knowledge, understanding and expression (cf. Fernández-Ulloa 2013: 22). The three aspects also contain major aspects of the four dimensions. This can be achieved by creating activities that enable to get in touch with media (television, radio, film) and train and develop their media competency (ibd.). Furthermore, pupils should be given the opportunity to get in touch with different forms of language appearance in the internet for instance (cf. Groene/Jung/Schilder 1983: 13f). However, pupils are not the only ones as the Aspen Institute published a paper called “Learner at the Center of a Networked World“5 which emphasizes the importance of media competency not only for pupils but also for teachers as they need to have media competencies too because otherwise they will not be able to teach it (cf. Jolls 2015: 68).

1.1. Media Literacy

Media competency goes along with media literacy which is an important aspect of media competency and has many different conceptualisations and definitions. For instance, the European Commission describes media literacy as:

the ability to access, analyse and evaluate the power of images, sounds andmessages which we are now being confronted with on a daily basis and are an important part of our contemporary culture, as well as to communicatecompetently in media available on a personal basis (cited in Livingstone 2010: 40).

However, the definition of the European Commission neglects the element of communicative message (cf. Livingstone 2010: 40). On the other hand, the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMS) specifies media literacy as completely individual and consumer-orientied and is defined as followed:

[m]edia literacy refers to skills, knowledge and understanding that allowconsumers to use media effectively and safely. Media-literate people will beable to exercise informed choices, understand the nature of content andservices and take advantage of the full range of opportunities offered by newcommunications technologies (cited in Livingstone 2010: 41).

Indeed, the various definitions complement each other. Nonetheless, there are definitions which are commonly accepted as they encompass many different aspects. For example, media literacy is described as the competency to decode, analyse, communicate and evaluate messages in a variety of forms (cf. Fernández-Ulloa 2013: 412). Out of these definitions and presupposed abilities for media literacy the Media and Information Technology for Teachers was created and demanded teachers to put an extra emphasize to develop these skills as they are seen as essential (cf. Wilson 2011: 18). According to Masterman (1985)6 the conceptual comprehension of media will enable pupils to receive and produce media with a critical approach (cf. Jolls and Wilson 2014: 70). When pupils develop media competencies they will be able to penetrate media production like certain selective or manipulative aspects (cf. Silverblatt/ Ferry/ Finan 2009: 226). In addition, media literacy should also focus on aesthetic aspects as the media include sign symbols that need to be encoded (cf. Jolls and Wilson 2014: 69). The importance of aesthetic appreciation has been made clear as it is seen essential for media education to succeed (ibd.). Additionally, media literacy education plays a huge role in developing critical thinking (cf. Hobbs 2007: 94).

1.2. Visual Literacy

Visual literacy describes the skill to interpret and create visual messages (cf. Messaris and Moriarty 2005: 481). So it enables pupils to understand visual communication and gives the opportunity for everyone to express themselves through visual communication (cf. Messaris and Moriarty 2005: 482). As mentioned above it is of paramount relevance for pupils to be able to deal with visual media. Visual literacy helps them to exceed the literal content of images (cf. Mattock 2015: 237). This is imporant as nowadays images have a huge influence on how humans experience their environment (cf. Duncker 2007: 184). Moreover, reading images is seen as one of the several possibilties to get an access to reality (ibd.). To be able to read images and interpret them in a proper way pupils need to acquire skills to analyse and encode an image (cf. Seidl 2007: 3). Furthermore, visual literacy can also be considered as an “antidote“ for media manipulation through television (films, ads etc) (Messaris and Moriarty 2005: 482). Fostering a critical thinking towards visual media visual literacy unites language with images as it does not only focus on encoding the message of an image but also puts the message in relation with cultural aspects (cf. Lütge 2011: 6). Therefore, it allows a complete different access to knowledge and comprehension which should not be undervalued (cf. Messaris 1994: 21).

Assertors of visual literacy education argue that visual literacy offers various cognitive benefits for pupils (cf. Messaris 1994: 21). It helps pupils to develop mental tools so they can understand their social and physical environment in a much better way (ibd). Thus, leads to an improved orientation of the pupils especially in their social environment and additionally helps them to build and strenghten their personality and identity as it is stated that being able to get along with media presence simultaneously helps pupils to get along in their daily lifes (cf. Seidl 2007: 5). The development of these competencies are considered to be “fundamental“ for human learning (Hailey/ Miller/ Yenawine 2015: 50). Visual literacy can be taught through a specific methodology called Visual Thinking Strategy (VTS) (cf. Hailey/ Miller/ Yenawine 2015: 50). VTS is said to be a useful method to develop critical thinking and improve communication and collaboration (cf. Landorf 2006: 28). This method helps pupils to engage with each other and discuss meaning of images and express their individual feelings towards an image (cf. Hailey/ Miller/ Yenawine 2015: 49). Thus, it is helpful to enable learners to listen to many different opinions and ways of looking at and ecoding an image (cf. Landorf 2006: 29). Listening to different opinions goes along with pupils questioning their own opinions or thoughts and include a meta-level while analysing or encoding an image which is significant.

1.3. Film Literacy

Beside media literacy and visual literacy it is important to teach pupils how to analyse films as probably all of them are consumers of films. Films being very efficient in conveying meanings through nonverbal communication which has a manipulative influence on mass behaviour emphasizes the importance of teaching film literacy (cf. Foster 1979: 3; Silverblatt/ Ferry/ Finan 2009: 118). As we have seen above with visual literacy it is a challenge to encode specific information conveyed through images. With film literacy we have the fact that it is a question of understanding moving pictures and not only still images (cf. Forsdale and Forsdale 1970: 264).7 Moreover, film literacy additionally has the acoustical dimension (cf. Surkamp 2004: 2). Even primarily associating films with visual media the acoustical dimension is as important as the visual dimension for the reception of a film (cf. Lütge 2008: 46). Sound is essential in films as it depicts an important instrument to manipulate the emotions of the audience (cf. Foster 1979: 11).8 To be able to understand the usage of sounds and codify the emotionality in specific scenes belongs to media competency (cf. Lütge 2008: 45). Especially the combination of visuality and acoustic delineates a difficult task for pupils (ibd.). So basically the aim of film literacy is to overcome the passivity of the consumers and to prevent filmmakers succeeding in manipulating people (cf. Forsdale and Forsdale 1970: 266).

2. Online-Communication

As aforementioned the revolutionary development of technology in recent years encompassed the field of communication, too. Following Thurlow/Lengel/Tomic (2009)9 one of the main things revolutionary technology have always done is to “force people to reconsider what the essential nature of communication is“ and that new technology makes people “experienc[e] communication anew“ (cited in Fraas/ Meier/ Pentzold 2012: 13). The Web 2.0 took communication into a different dimension and created a cyberspace for further online communication (cf. Fraas/ Meier/ Pentzold 2012: 19). Since then, people increasingly got involved in “web-based communication“ (Waltinger and Breuing 2012: 533). So, further development of the internet enable different forms of communication. However, online communication as such is not new as people could communicate through E-Mail with each other long before the emergence of Web 2.0. The new aspects of online communication is that there are different platforms to communicate in the internet like blogs, newsgroups etc. Considering that online communication is used by most of the pupils nowadays it is useful to include it into EFL classroom as the flexibility and the almost unlimited access of pupils to the internet enable different ways to use it in classroom (cf. Fraas/ Meier/ Pentzold 2012: 17). Webblogs, newsgroups etc. offer the possibility for online discussion which is quiet conducive for EFL classroom (cf. Mann and Stewart 2000: 121). Nevertheless, according to Krueger (1988)10 an online discussion must be well prepared otherwise it can easily fail its objective (ibd.). But carefully planned it serves as a platform for pupils where they can challenge and respond to each other as they can “put their opinions into the pot of opinions“ (ibd.; cited in Mann and Stewart 2000: 160). Responding to each other helps pupils to rethink or question their opinions (cf. Alter 2016: 135). Therefore, it includes a meta-level which is essential for the development of critical thinking. Furthermore, it will help to enhance the group interactivity as even those who do not participate that often in class due to specific reasons like shyness will be able to participate (cf. Rössler 1998: 8). Moreover, communication in the internet does not presuppose any specific competencies (cf. Waltinger and Breuing 2012: 546). Additionally, it will foster the class climate as it will help the class to build a virtual community.11 One of the main risks of online communication is that pupils use a complete different language in the internet because it has changed the way humans communicate (see Figure 1 and 2). The teacher has to make sure that pupils use the language appropriately while using the internet for school purposes.


Excerpt out of 25 pages


Teaching Media Competency
Teaching media competency by analysing films and uploading the results onto platforms such as Reddit for honest critique
Justus-Liebig-University Giessen
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
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teaching, media, competency, reddit
Quote paper
Altay Siakiroglou (Author), 2016, Teaching Media Competency, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/424911


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