Young people learning from digital media outside of school

Bradford Council

The informal meets the formal

The dissonance between what teenagers learn in classrooms and their everyday lives is not a recent phenomenon, but it is increasingly relevant as school systems are unable to follow the evolution of media and society beyond traditional concerns regarding the protection of young people [1]Pereira, S., Fillol, J. and Moura, P. (2019) Young people learning from digital media outside of school: The informal meets the formal. Comunicar, Media Education Research Journal [online]. 85(27), … Continue reading. An overly scholarly view of learning continues to prevail in our society, which seems to marginalize the knowledge that young people develop with and through media and digital platforms. Based on questionnaires, workshops, and interviews conducted with Portuguese teenagers, aged 12 to 16 years old (N=78), attending an urban and a rural school in the North of the country, this paper aims to understand how these teens are learning to use the media, what motivates them, and if their media practices contribute to the acquisition of skills and competencies useful to their lives inside and outside school. The research main results confirm the existence of a gap between formal and informal education. Informal education is mainly motivated by their needs and peer influence. Colleagues and family, alongside the Internet and self-discovery, appear as important sources of knowledge. Another important conclusion is that informal learning strategies contribute to the development of skills and competencies that are useful from a school viewpoint.


Authors: Sara Pereira  ORCiD, Joana Fillol ORCiD and Pedro Moura ORCiD

Website: Comunicar – Media Education Research Journal

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1 Pereira, S., Fillol, J. and Moura, P. (2019) Young people learning from digital media outside of school: The informal meets the formal. Comunicar, Media Education Research Journal [online]. 85(27), pp. 41-50 [Accessed 06 December 2019]. Available at: <>.

Explorations in Ethnography, Language and Communication


Capturing linguistic and cultural diversities

This volume [1]Hållsten, S. and Nikolaidou, Z. (2018) Explorations in Ethnography, Language and Communication: Capturing linguistic and cultural diversities. Stockholm: Elanders. represents a range of work from scholars associated with the Linguistic Ethnography Forum (LEF). LEF is a large, international community of scholars with an interest in drawing on and combining theoretical and methodological approaches from linguistics and ethnography. As an organisation, LEF can be traced back to a small seminar in Leicester in 2001, funded by the British Association for Applied Linguistics (BAAL) and Cambridge University Press, which brought together 30 academics and research students to identify key theoretical and methodological issues in linguistic ethnography. From that initial meeting, an email list was set up and a committee formed to explore the possibility of organising future events and facilitating this ongoing conversation.


Authors: Zoe Nikolaidou and Stina Hållsten

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1 Hållsten, S. and Nikolaidou, Z. (2018) Explorations in Ethnography, Language and Communication: Capturing linguistic and cultural diversities. Stockholm: Elanders.

Are we teaching for activism or compliance?

By Adrian Von Vrede-Jervis, 2019.

There is much discussion currently about the role of education in the current VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) global environment. There are calls to adapt away from the factory model of education. There is a need to pull away from content-centric models of learning transfer because, the argument goes, the world of work is changing and the demand is for skills.

Well I agree, to a point, there is a need to pull away from content only but not for the purpose that the World Economic Forum gives. I find it deeply ironic that the call for the dissolution of the factory model is down to the fact that the demands in the factory have changed.

The need for change is a more basic need. It comes down to a question of what are we learning for. Are we teaching for compliance, with fixed curricula and ranked success performance on a standard measure? Or are we teaching for individuals who will question the status quo?

We want a generation who will hold their politicians, their economic systems, the privileged and the powerful to account. We want a generation who will care beyond individualism and for the system as a whole. We want a generation who are clear on their priorities and will act to realise them. Don’t we?

So in response to the call to revolutionise education for a new economy, I would argue that we need to learn in order to become better humans who make the world a better place. Period.

‘I find it deeply ironic that the call for the dissolution of the factory model is down to the fact that the demands in the factory have changed. We need to learn in order to become better humans who make the world a better place.’

To that end I have designed a model that is independent of curriculum. It asks us to evaluate what we are delivering and then to consider four possible areas of stretch that can help this curriculum to reach this goal.

For those who follow IB curricula you will notice that the end product of these stretch areas is an aspect of International Mindedness. This is the stated aim of IB education:

‘The aim of all IB programmes is to develop internationally minded people who recognise their common humanity and shared guardianship of the planet. Central to this aim is international-mindedness’
(What is an IB education, 2017, p. 10).

This model is inspired by that call, but it is not exclusive to the IB. It seeks to articulate what that call actually means, using four inspirations:

  • To Think in a way that leads to Global understanding
  • To Act in a way that leads to Global engagement
  • To Become such that we pursue Global values
  • To Care for causes that arise from Global awareness

The model proposes that we begin at the centre and move outwards. Each layer being essential to the creation of the next.

Inspiring me to Think

Traditional curricula have tended to focus on learning content, increasingly we are becoming aware of the power of being able to think about concepts, that this content builds towards. I want to suggest that global concepts lead us to seeing things from multiple (disciplinary and personal) perspectives. This is powerful and helps students develop multifaceted understandings of the world, which is essential for interdisciplinary approaches to problems but also helps prevent dogmatism which is an enemy of more global understandings.

Inspiring me to Care

We only learn about what we care about. Inspiring people to care about something beyond themselves is a core responsibility of school. We sometimes sprinkle examples into our teaching or link these to bigger issues to show that it matters to the world. What we are not so good at is helping this matter to the individual. I believe we should be enabling kids to find a cause that they believe in and care about and encouraging this.

Inspiring me to Act

We teach a unit and move on. So often we leave the cares behind. What if learning what designed such that it inspired students to go be the difference. Do we give them the freedom and support to create a project and try make an impact with it. Are we as educators fearful of mini Greta Thurnberg’s arising or are we actively encouraging and incubating them?

Inspiring to Become

Perhaps this is the most important. Do we teach for knowledge transfer, for a test, for grades. Or do we teach to shape the young learners we are privileged to have in front of us. Do we teach in ways that model moral and ethical behaviour? Do we go beyond that and inspire them to discover what values that they have inside themselves and convert these values into a purpose?


Your turn: What do you think of this model? Could this reset the agenda for why we educate? Not to build up a new generation of workers but a new generation of citizens, thoughtful, caring, prepared to act because they have a purpose!


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Twitter: @AdrianvWJ


Taking the lead from successful social cohesion in schools

By Jane Wilkinson, 2019.

Recently, Victorians have been shocked to hear of sustained anti-Semitic bullying occurring in two public schools. The Victorian Education Minister, James Merlino, has ordered an immediate review of the way the two schools have apparently dealt with the incidents. Last week, a group of 10 boys at St Kevin’s College in Melbourne were suspended after performing a sexist chant on a tram, with former students claiming that their concerns about a rampant sexist culture at the school had gone unheeded.

What is happening in our schools reflects our changing society. Around the world, people are finding it hard to have genuine conversations with one another. Read the latest tweet, pick up a paper – the focus is on conflict, turmoil, and a form of tribalism where individuals and nations dig into their respective corners and fire verbal potshots across a virtual terrain.

Schools are no different. They’re not immune from society’s ills. As “micropublics”, they reflect and refract the challenging conversations and social and political disharmonies that societies are experiencing.

How do school leaders grapple with this increasing sense of conflict and disharmony? How do they foster socially cohesive school communities in ways that don’t silence or shut down individuals or groups, but instead positively model how students can engage in productive and thoughtful dialogue while learning that it’s OK to not always agree with one another? Is it even possible for schools to do this? What about topics that are so “hot” that there can seem to be no escaping conflict?

Our study, “Leading for social cohesion: How principals respond to ‘challenging conversations’ about social and political volatilities and disharmonies”, set out to explore these issues. Funded by the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet’s Social Inclusion Unit, our team – myself, Professor Lucas Walsh, Professor Amanda Keddie, Dr Luke Howie, Dr Nicola Sum and Dr Fiona Longmuir – worked with three public schools that represented the rich social fabric of Victoria. They were ethnically varied, encompassed a range of faith traditions, and ranged from well-heeled and socially progressive to high levels of poverty and social disadvantage with some families experiencing multi-generational unemployment. All were achieving highly when it came to academic outcomes as measured by indicators such as NAPLAN results.

However, what united them was crucial – they were nominated as modelling exemplary practices when it came to building social cohesion within their schools and broader communities. How did they do this? What might we learn from them that we could apply to our broader society?

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Sarah Pink: Digital Ethnography

Sarah Pink is a Professor of Design and Media Ethnography at RMIT University, Australia, and the author or co-editor of several books about Digital Ethnography [1]Pink, S., Horst, H., Postill, J., Hjorth, L., Lewis, T. and Tacchi, J. (2016) Digital Ethnography: Principles and Practice. London: SAGE Publications.. To approach this area, we get Sarah’s help with some conceptual groundwork about the methods, values, and history of ethnography, and its relation to neighbouring fields such as anthropology or cultural geography. But the conversation focusses on digital ethnography: Information technology changes not only the methods of ethnography by providing tools or modes of expression, but also raises new questions by changing notions of embodiment, geographic place, and social relation, all of which are central themes for ethnographers. We also talk about how an field that largely eschews prediction and hypothesis can reason about future technology such as self-driving cars.

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1 Pink, S., Horst, H., Postill, J., Hjorth, L., Lewis, T. and Tacchi, J. (2016) Digital Ethnography: Principles and Practice. London: SAGE Publications.

The Fifty Minute Ethnography

Ethnography is becoming an increasingly popular research methodology used across a number of disciplines. Typically, teaching students how to write an ethnography, much less how to undertake “fieldwork” (or the ethnographic research upon which ethnographies are based), is reserved for senior- or MA-level research methods courses. This article [1]Trnka, Susanna (2017), Journal of Effective Teaching, 17(1), pp. 28-34. examines the pedagogical strategy of engaging first-year students in ethnographic field methods and the art of ethnographic writing and suggests how the use of a short ethnographic exercise (the fifty minute mini-ethnography) can enable students who are at the beginning of their undergraduate degrees to better understand the relationships between theory and empirical data.

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1 Trnka, Susanna (2017), Journal of Effective Teaching, 17(1), pp. 28-34.

What is Ethnography and how does it work?

Ethnographic research is a qualitative method where researchers observe and/or interact with a study’s participants in their real-life environment. Ethnography was popularised by anthropology, but is used across a wide range of social sciences.[1]Text source:


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