Friday, May 11, 2007

The Youth Voice

After Ola Erstad's massive presentation about several important issues around media education, Veera Lehtinen and Jalmari Sarla had a presentation about The Youth Voice Editorial Board. The goals of the project (2006-2008) they introduced to us are:
  • To change the image of the youth in media,
  • To let youth take part in public discussion in diffentet media and to challenge the youth to have conversation with each other, experts, and politicians,
  • To educate young people to make articles etc.
They have made tv programmes and newspaper articles. Check out some of their tv programmes:

We heard that unfortunately YLE (Finnish Broadcasting Company) is cutting down the youth programmes which affects this project too.


Pictures, bilder, kuvia. Here are some views into the main lecture room, the foyer during the day.

Forum 2 - Film and animation with pre-school children

Kindergarten teacher Benny Smulter presented his experienses from film and animation making with pre-school children. In Hamnparken day care center the children have made several films, within past few years. The purpose of the film project is to empower children and support their participation: children are in key role in all parts of the process, from the scriptwriting to filming, editing and sound making. When children familiarise themselves with the filmmaking process, it provides them with a more critical attitude towards media presentations. Of course an educator’s guidance is often needed when working with small children.

Making films with children takes time and it has to start with the basics: getting familiar with the equipment as well as the process of storytelling and filmmaking. Even though children learn quite quickly to use the equipment (for example editing programs), the process takes a long time, because children’s ability to concentrate is limited. That’s why the films are made in short periods.

The key element in making films with children is joy. It has to be fun for the children. Smulter also described a good experience of co-operation with local media: they had a premiere show for animation, and local press made news about it. It was a great experience for the children to feel like movie stars and to see themselves in newspaper next day.

Ola Erstad: Media education and media literacies - past, present and future

Media creativity at its best? Link to Youtube, bushandblair

One of the main points of Ola Erstad's presentation was that there is a huge transition taking place which is new and has happened really fast. Our biggest concern at the moment is to understand how to cope with it.

These transformations are:
  • the unit of analysis
  • multimodality
  • creativity
  • media production
  • being critical
Case Norway:

A new subject introduced in the upper secondary schools: media and communication. The course is very popular and schools are now competing against one another trying to offer the course and thereby attract students . The course content is very much focused on production and the researchers are concerned about what the students are really "learning".

Forum 4 - 6th presentation: Friendships with or without internet

Kirsi Pohjola from the University of Jyväskylä presented her fresh study on friendships with or without internet. We were the first ones to hear draft analysis of her qualitative research.

She has studied a small group of young men (aged 22) who have been friend from their early childhood. Nowadays they use an irc channel for communicating with each other. Or actually, the virtual communication is just an extention to the offline social life. That is what the boys say. They also say that their friendship would exixt even without cmc.

Pohjola had asked the boys about what is the difference between real and virtual worlds. She found out that for most of them, they are not two parallel worlds but one reality. In future, it will be even more difficult to tell what is the online reality and what is the offline reality. But is there really need to separate them from each other?

For most young people, internet is a tool for communicating with friends. Also Pohjola's "boys" seem to use the net for that. One of them had stated, "if the net is broken, you feel really lonely".
Forum 1 - 7th presentation: Does teaching have a future?

Wow! I am really excited with the title already!

Stefán Jökulson was the FIRST and so far ONLY presenter (apart from Kjell Sundstedt's keynote yesterday) not using any technological tools for his presentation. It felt strange at the beginning as we all sentisised to stare at the white screen on the wall and wait for the first slide to appear. After the initial cognitive confusion, it felt refreshing :)

There were six points he raised. Teaching will have a future IF
  • there is a cognitive curriculum - media education is about helping students make their meaning
  • teachers study imagination - we need to think beyond the realms of reality and be more creative
  • teachers approach teaching and learning as communication - even if teachers do not intentionally communicate their goals and intentions, they still communicate as the meaning is in the message
  • teachers think about meaning as movement and learning as practice, teachers should also stop talking solo and answer their own questions
  • teachers and students reinvent themselves - the cultural artefacts carry with them attributes which we have to be aware of, for instance teachers still deep down do not believe that digital resources can be used for learning
Forum 1 - 6th presentation: Nuku movie school

Jeata Juustinen from Oulu walked us through the Nuku film school and the so-called Taikalamppu method that is based on improvisation that produces the core of the script. The scipt is then shot in a chronological order and no editing is done to the film before the first viewing. More information can be found at (in Finnish, Swedish and English) There will be a guide on the method later this year.

Forum 1 - Friday

Sorry for the break in the live reporting... Our research project was on stage and my multitasking skills aren't well enough developed that I could have blogged and presented at the same time :)

If you are interested, you can find information about our research project "Towards Future Literacy Pedagogies" at our website

We also have a summer school in Jyväskylä around this topic. Here is more information about that for those who are interested:

P.S. Thanks Olli for blogging on this too!

Forum 1 - 4th and 5th papers

Day 2, still Forum 1 :)

First we heard about Finnish teenagers in the media landscape. Minna-Riitta Luukka & Annikka Suoninen opened some of the latest statistics in Finland about the use of media among teenagers. A good way to start a research project, I think, but propably not answering the research questions yet (e.g. conceptions and values of literacy; see abstracts).

The second presentation in Friday (5th paper) was connected to the same research project than the first presentation. Peppi Taalas, Sari Pöyhönen, Mirja Tarnanen & Merja Kauppinen tried to open more the questions about the learning environment and materials (and especially media texts) used. Propably the further research in this project will challenge the data even more and bring up some really valuable information and solutions for getting media education, not only as a cross-curricular theme but, to the learning environment of school.

A great party!

The foyer of Åbo Akademi had been turned into a beautiful venue for the conference dinner. Sol-Britt was the perfect hostess and master of ceremony. The evening started with songs and schnapps as any good party should. The Little green men quartet were a good competition to our singing, and probably were better too :) The editor in chief of Vasabladet (one of the sponsors of the conference) entertained us with a dramtically well-built speech about the past and the future of printed press, especially newspaper. After a very delicious dinner (during which we were reading sports results on mobile phones to follow the icehockey match between Finland and USA. And as we all know, Finland won!) it was time for dancing. Hasse Eriksson and his band were awesome and really got people moving on the dance floor. I'll post pictures and a fuller report of the evening a bit later.

Den nya människan

About 40 people came to see the midnight-performance of the movie "the new man" at cinema Adams. It was a really very catching and impressive story and especially with Kjell Sundstedt's reflections in the morning a movie experience I haven't had for a long time - and apparently neither the other spectators (that's at least what the faces told when the lights turned on after the movie!).

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Forum 4 - 2nd paper: Parents' awareness on internet safety

Mannerheim League for Child Welfare (MLL)
campaigns for empowering Finnish families to
use the Internet safely and responsibly. In line
with the goals of the EU programme Safer
Internet Action Plan we provide families with
information and online materials encouraging
constructive, ethical use of online information
and communication technologies. Read more about our project:

We wanted to gain our knowledge on parents’
Internet safety awareness and thus give
framework for our future work. TNS Gallup
conducted a survey for us in December 2006.
The survey was addressed to parents with 10 to
16 year old children. 1016 parents took part in
the survey. Read a summary of the results:

We carried out a wide-ranging inquiry of adolescents’ experiences of Internet’s social networking sites. Data was collected in the spring of 2006 in three photo galleries: IRC-Galleria, and Read a summary of the results:
Forum 1 - 3rd paper: Convergence of media and information literacy in the age of social media

Interesting questions to Kai Halttunen are how people access and retrieve information from within the paradigm of information sciences. These are however relevant and related questions for the broader field of media education as well. All people use and disseminate information in various networked environments and this is where the two paradigms and communities overlap and meet. For instance, linking this presentation to the previous presentation one possible question is that what are young people doing when they are active members of an IRC gallery or community. What kind of information are they exchanging, how are the various information bits presented, organised and stored, how do they rank the contents of the gallery, and what kind of "domain-specific" features can be found in their information sub-culture. But even more importantly, we have to look at the information environment as a whole, not make judgements on the basis of one slice or site only. Makes sense, doesn't it?
Forum 1 - 2nd paper: The cognitive, social, and psychological risks of media from childhood and adolescence

And live reporting from Forum 1 continues...

Now to the world of games and their impact on children. Tarja Salokoski from the Society for Media Education in Finland. The perspective on the review is on the risks of media: on personality development (addictions, eating disorders), cognitive development (learning, attitudes, sleeping disorders), social development (aggression, desentisisation). The study has also goals in a political sense as the researchers hope to guide policy making with the results. These results are depressing... online communities and online gaming seem to have devastating effects on young people. I find this kind of thinking gloomy, prejudiced and exaggerated... and somewhat desperate in its attempt to hold on the kind of world that doesn't exist any more. Over and out.

Follow-up questions centered around the BIG issue of cause and effect. Isn't it a bit too straightforward to claim that it is the media causing all these problems. Ok, but now I AM prejudiced and biased here. Comments please?
Forum 1 - 1st paper: Collaborative literacy and media education

Reporting live from Forum 1 (I hope that people in other forums will blog too... :)

Running a bit late, but not more than the academic quarter (15 minutes :) Forum one is an interesting combination of presentations about school, teaching, informal and formal contexts for learning and so on. You can find the programme and abstacts here.

The first presenter is Reijo Kupiainen (also acting as the chair of the forum) talks about collaborative literacy and media literacy. He starts by quoting Gunther Kress (2003) who talks about the revolution in the uses and affects of literacy and associated means to communicate. He goes on to quote Prensky (2006) about digital natives and digital immigrants and the different languages of these two. Is there a visible gap in the school because of this? Katlheen Tyner (1998) claims that teachers fail to teach the electronic tradition students. Prensky takes this even further and claims that the current school system is not designed for today's students. Reijo wonders if teachers are aware of this. Are they??
ADDRESS to the real time streaming of the keynotes:

KEYNOTE 2 Kjell Sundstedt: "There cannot be more humans like you"

This one is in Swedish so bear with me as some of the terms and concepts may be translated by impromptu and inspiration :)

It is about forced sterilisations (against the will OR knowledge of the person in question) of the type of people that were not wished to breed and multiply in society. He wants this story to be out in the open, on film, in school books as a reminder, a warning that these kind of things cannot and should not happen in civilised societies.

Everyone in the public was asked to write two things about which they have or have had a profound internal conflict. No therapy sessions, just a word or two. This is where we all our stories have their beginning. But it does not end on the personal level, we have to reach out to the environment (in i det stora). That is what KS has done with his films and stories. He has done a lot of background research to find about the themes he has talked about, he has dug through loads of archives, documents, private diaries to gain a better picture of the events and to find the people he wants to include in his stories. Making the film about sterlisations was painful as he was talking about something that had with his own family and history to do. But the story had to be told.

A thought from the audience: is this what media education is about: to encourage young people to tell their stories, be active initiators of discussion of other than the usual and generally accepted topics. What do you think?

Presents for keynotes
I just thought that you might want to know that all the keynotes receive a beautiful lantern. The conference manager Sol-Britt just told us that in the past women used this lantern during a church service to dry up their skirts that have become wet on their way to the chruch :) (The picture is from Loftet where these lanterns are sold,

Birgitte Tufte: Media Culture - School Culture - Partners or comptetitors?

Birgitte Tufte opened her speech by giving us short history of media education as follows:
  • from moral panic to active participation
  • to teach about the bad influence of the media
  • film, tv entered the schools (60's and 70's) -> high culture separated from local culture, school representing the first one
  • popular media in a broader sense acknowledged in school
  • fourth phase (2000-), focus on computers, the Internet
She said that two trends can be distinguished and these trends also affect the way in which schools in the various countries approach the area of media education. A) a top-down trend - moralistic approach and b) a bottom-up trend = a democratic approach. (Tufte, 1999.)

Since the conference takes place in Finland, Birgitte Tufte wanted to mention a Finnish pioneer of media education, Sirkka Minkkinen whose writings in 1980's have influenced the way we look at media education today.

She showed us statistics from various studies showing the intensity of Internet and mobile phone use of young people and highlighted the fact that the school practices are drifting further away from the day to day lives of their students. Many of the students say that they would like to learn more about media use in school and there is a need for better awareness of the need of crititical literacy skills. But the students feel that they are not getting this in schools. As one 13-year-old Danish boy puts it: " The teachers do not know very much... most of them are old"

In her speech Tufte then moved away from the school environment and raised another issue concerning young children as consumers. She talked about a research project "Tweens between media and consumption". Tweens are a group of "in betweens", in between childhood and adolecence. She said that these "split personalities" toggle between behaviours and attitudes of teenagers. Marketers are increasingly orienting themselves towards tweens as a consumer group. She also predicted online shopping to increase tremendously in the future.

She returned back to the school and talked about two school-based research projects. In the first project they tried to map the problematic areas where there is a void in respect to media education and one conclusion can be said to be that the teachers are quite clueless when it comes to media. The second project was about peer learning amongst teachers, using peer mentoring to exchange experiences and learn more about pedagogically sensible ways for media education

I think this is it, time to give the floor to you. What do you think? Are schools lagging behind? And if so, is it because the teachers are "out", or why is it so? Any other thoughts inspired byTufte's speech?

The conference is now officially open!

The conference was opened with the Åbo Akademi student choir's two beutiful songs. After that the Finnish minister for culture and sports, Stefan Wallin joined us by video link. In his greeting, he emphasised that even if there are many good on going projects in the area of media education, there is still a lot of work to be done. This work requires the cooperation and networking of the various players (as he called them :) in the field. According to him the conference theme fits very well within the goals of the Finnish presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministry. An investment in the youth is always worth while.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

O-N-E Day left!

Everything is ready. The conference folders piled up on the registration desk, all procedures checked once more, the air filled with eager anticipation.

Well, what is there to say other than WELCOME TO VAASA!
Let's make this conference a special one!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

2 days to go!

Time to start packing: semi-warm clothes, umbrella (just in case), laptop (for blogging), and the Best of Eurovision song contest cd (to tune in with the finals on Saturday).

Monday, May 7, 2007

Countdown for Vaasa has started - 3 days left!

Vasa is claimed to be the sunniest city in Finland. Let's see what the weather has in store for us:

(Source: - The Finnish Meteorological Institute)

Looks good, no snow :)