The use of media in education

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The use of media in education has been a controversial topic for decades of nana peeta prashasti. In the 20th century, educators debated whether exposure to media (film, TV, recordings) should be encouraged or banned from schools.

In recent decades though much concern has been about content for children and the effects these can have on them.

This post will look at the arguments for and against using media in education and what is currently happening in schools with regard to this issue.

1. Uses of Media in the Classroom

Kirsch (p. 48) suggests that the first time schools started using media was in 1910 when Robert Loder, a teacher, started using lantern slides and audiocassettes in his physics class at London School of Economics. However it was not until the 1950s that modern audio-visual aids spread into many schools.

The post-war baby boom and higher standards of living saw an increase in school enrolments and thus more funding was made available for teacher training, audio-visual equipment, books etc. By 2004 some 85% of primary schools had audiovisual aids, as did 87% of secondary schools (Kirsch p. 48).

2. How Children Learn

Teachers agree that children learn better when they are involved in the learning process and that the use of media helps to immerse them in a subject. For example,  

“Children learn more effectively if they can see the demonstrations and experiments. This is particularly true for science. Science is all about seeing … With visual aids children also ask better questions, and teachers are able to answer them (Kirsch p. 46).”

According to Kirsch most children learn from visual learning and that it is important for children’s cognitive development (Kirsch p. 46).

There are various reasons for using media in schools such as motivational, social and cultural reasons.

3. Media in the Classroom Motivational Reasons

3.1  Motivation   to Learn

Media is a highly motivating medium for children and provides motivation to learn about new topics or about a subject that may not be interesting in the classroom (Kirsch p. 47).

3.2  Popular Media   as a Source of Motivation

Children like the idea of being involved in popular media such as TV shows and games on computers and mobile phones. Popular culture is what they are interested in, and if there are educational elements within these programmes then children would be more likely to stay interested (Kirsch p. 48).

3.3  Media is Familiar

Children today are familiar with the media they see around them and they want to learn more about it. They are familiar with the genres and with actors etc. (Kirsch p. 47).

3.4  Popularity   as an Educational Tool

Media has become increasingly popular in schools, especially the use of mobile phones and computers in order to teach children about cultural issues that relate to their lives (Kirsch p. 48).  

4. Use of Media for Social Reasons

4.1  Social Learning

Learning through social interaction (e.g. Pea, p. 10) is appropriate for some age groups but it is not appropriate for other age groups. For example, children under the age of 10 may not pick up on social cues and might be more influenced by their peer group.

4.2  Entertainment as a Motivation

Kirsch (p. 49) suggests that when education becomes entertaining the child may be more interested in what is being taught, especially if the material has been censored for a younger audience (e.g. made child-friendly). He also suggests that children who watch educational TV shows tend to get better grades than those who don’t watch them (Kirsch p. 50).

5. Media in the Classroom Cultural Reasons

5.1  Media as a Source of Culture

Education through media can expose children to different cultures and thus help them to be culturally aware. Likewise, it can also teach children about specific aspects of a culture that they may not have been surrounded in (Kirsch p. 48). For example, with TV shows, teachers can use them as a tool for learning, especially when the programmes are censored or edited for younger age groups (Kirsch p. 49).

5.2  Media   to Teach About History

History textbooks provide mainly dates and chronologies while media can provide information by showing actual events and people (Bakker p. 64). For example, since 1999, most UK schools have used the BBC’s   “The Story of Britain”, a television series that shows various historical events through the eyes of ordinary people (Bakker p . 65).

5.3  Cultural Diversity

Schools in the UK have used TV to teach about cultural diversity by providing information about minority groups in British society (e.g. Muslims and homosexuals). This has encouraged children to be more tolerant towards these minority groups through education (Bakker p . 66).

5.4  Media as a Tool for Learning   New Languages

Kirsch (p. 49) suggests that teachers appreciate the use of media to help students learn new languages, especially when the media has subtitles or voiceover in other languages.

6. Problems with Using Media in Education

Too much exposure to educational media can be too much for children as it is not a passive process and therefore they need time between viewings to process the information (Kirsch p. 51). This can be problematic if teachers are making up their own programmes or if they are choosing inappropriate programmes (e.g. violent ones).


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