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Media Education: which epistemological out-line?

Historical-theoretical reflection and situation of the Italian School
Pier Cesare Rivoltella - Catholic University of Milan, Italy.

Summit 2000, Children, Youth and the Media Beyond the Millennium Toronto, 13-17 May 2000

A discipline or a collective enthusiasm? A few years ago, the editorial of "Media Development"1 said: "so where are we now with respect to media education? Is there a defined body of theory and practice associated with this subject or does it consist of a collective enthusiasm, united in theory but divided in practice?". In this question there were some implicit convictions: • the need of linkage, in order to reach an awareness regarding the point of journey in which one found himself; • the identification of, say, two "driving forces of Media Education2: one is the theoretical force (reflection on the models of pedagogy and the teaching paradigms) and the other is the force of practice (the educative experimentation "on the field"); • the determination to understand whether the ME was only a kind of movement ("a collective enthusiasm") or a knowledge (a collection of theories and practices). These three convictions clearly indicate the demand for an epistemological awareness, picture the situation of all experiences which begin to investigate seriously on the real possibility for claiming an autonomous existing space, with a proper theme, proper methods and specific goals. The knowledge of literature on the topic tells us that this awareness today has not yet been reached. According to us it remains the key starting point from which the fundamental role for ME in the processes of education, socialisation and democratic growth of the civil societies can be claimed. Today there exist various reasons that seem to guarantee the right time for a "sound" revision of ME in an effort to make it become a discipline: • First of all ME begins to have a history of many years, in which the different "periods" or stages can be clearly identified, along with their privileged moments of attention, their educative priorities and methods. There is room to understand where and at which point of the journey one finds the ME. Besides, its diffusion in different countries has deviated in many directions in line with the their cultural traditions and socio-political needs and thus producing a complexity of approaches (political, ideological, educative) and paradigms (inoculative; critical reading, images and awareness). This means that it is possible to enquire about the models, methods, in short, all that constitute a discipline. the reality of the media and their culture, in these years, has changed considerably, particularly due to the advent and the development of the new communication technologies (NCT), forcing the ME to revise its role better - this is only to expose the problem if not to talk of the "second generation" of ME that be spoken in terms of, say, Computer Literacy, or Educatique. At this 1

level it seems to be a must to understand the specificity of ME compare to other approaches, for example, the Education Technology; The complexity of contexts and the need for training/formation made in a manner that the working and application aspects might dominate the second level of reflection so as to characterise the ME more as a filed of enthusiasms rather than a discipline (Masterman). Here arises the question not only to distinguish the two "driving forces" of ME but also to coordinate them. To these reasons, verifiable internationally, the difficulty to recognise the palace of ME - in the case of Italy (not only there) - on the part of the academic world is added precisely, because of the absence of its subject definition due to its spurious character. This is the problem of the academic existence of ME: without this academic existence no discipline will get its recognition.

Looking from these reasons, in our intervention we propose, as aim, to synthesise some useful observations in order to show the character of ME as a "discipline". We do this in our analysis making reference, particularly, to the Italian reality - a reality in which the absence of a theoretical systematisation was such that the many experiences of ME lived for years in different formative contexts have not yet found ways of forming itself in an conscious framework of synthesis. This is so despite the fact that the last two years have introduced dynamic reasons for the future developments. We will, now, proceed in four phases, all of them are the distinctive aspects of a discipline: • Subject-matter • Origin and theoretical outlines • Historical development • Methodological aspects Every science that intends to be so, in fact, has these qualities: being interested in a specific subject-matter that of its own and not of other sciences; be an outcome of precise theoretical matrixes and linked to the other sciences in a relationship with other disciplines; describes, well or bad, a history that can be read at the sign of a progress it realises in the sense of its capacity to resolve its problems according to different modalities; finally, applies determined methodologies.

Media and formation What ME is about? What is its aim? Is it about a way of understanding the media and its processes that interest them from the standpoint of logic of value brought in play? Is the problem about the development of participation and the sense of democracy? Or, still, is it about preparing the public to play a critical and active role? Or is it about political commitment, to make counterinformation? Probably ME has been all these today and much more still. But the hypothesises that we would like to hold is a very broad one. It tends to take grasp of all these dimensions and to single out a model out of which the ME can be thought of today, making references also to the dimensions that are not yet familiar but to be made as valid space of application for the future. This model can be explained making reference to key a point and to four descriptions. The key point is the singling out of the subject-matter of ME in all that apply to the communication reality as information source and opportunity. To talk about the reality of communion means to make reference in ecological terms to all the media and to any type of process of communication, from verbal communication to multimediaon-line. 2

The term formation, instead, means referring in holistic terms to the activity of forming in the sense of Bildung - that is to say building the integral formation of the person. Understood in this way, the term does not mean the specific narrow type of instruction (Education), but the continuing process (tout along la vie) which involves the individual from the first stages of life up to death. This wider notion of ME can be specified as follows. 1. First of all, the communication reality can be approached formatively from two different points of view: instrumental and thematic An instrumental point of view can be adopted when we think of media as technology by the means of which or in which the formation can be realised. This assumption was evident when I showed the film L'attimo fuggente of Peter Weir as an introduction to an update course for teachers; when I used a talk show, which was on political participation, for stimulating debate in class; when I make available a mailing list for the purpose of having discussion with the university students of my course about a problem that arose during the previous lesson. Instead, my standpoint becomes thematic when the media become the subject-matter based on which I carry out formation. Traditionally this was always meant two things: learning the media languages (Media Literacy) and reflecting on their products, messages, genere, authors, etc. (Media Studies). Usually these points of view are interpreted by Media Educators in a dialectical way so as to indicate something to be overcome in the instrumental approach because it is not sufficiently attentive to the educative process (media centred). While the second approach has been always honoured for its capacity to have impact on the values-patterns of the individuals, on their cognitive development (learner centred)3 . I believe, today it is indispensable to go beyond this logic of juxtaposition. A good Media Educator is the one who knows how to make use of the media as instruments; who, having learned the process of communication, transfers the whole education within the area constructed by the media. Therefore, the instrumental and thematic points of view do not constitute options to choose, but they are the two aspects of one and the same commitment: Media Education is both using the communication for formation (instrumental point of view) and doing formation to communication (thematic point of view). 2. A second useful description for understanding what we intend when we talk of ME is the type of attention. Here again we can distinguish between two types of approach: one is attentive to the expressive dimension and the other is critical dimension. As we know from the history of ME, it is attention which has given room for further logical argumentation. On the one side, we find a group of people who support the Media Education workshops in order to emphasise the practical and operational dimension. This recovers the position of the pedagogical activism and the enlightened experience of some pioneers as Freinet. This trend takes shape in the long tradition of interventions which involve everything such as the realisation of newspaper in class, audio-visual production and construction of hyper texts. Instead, on the other there are people for whom the priority is the construction of critical sense in the receiver. The theoretical background and formation of these Media Educators is above all semiotics: it draws on the textual models of Barthes and compares with Cultural Studies perspectives. Returning to didactics on the part of this theory recovery is nothing but the critical reading of messages, their deconstruction / reconstruction, and the cultural analysis. Also here, like in the previous instance, there is a need to think not in terms of aut aut, but of et et. Doing Media Education would mean teaching to communicate - and therefore it is 3

something to "do-with-the-media" - but it means also to educate towards a correct relationship with the communication messages. As in the literacy programme wherein one not only learns to read but also to write - so also with the media: "to read and write the media" is a balanced view of media education. 3. A third description by which we can approach the media in the formation are the working levels. This means returning to the input from where we began: is ME a collection of practicals or also theory? The answer is: both. A more natural working level for ME is the educative praxis which includes creativity, capacity for planning, inclination for teaching and feeling of empathy. These are the aspects which cannot be learned by any educator from books - so say the trends of current didactics. These trends, after the influence of behaviourism and instructionism, go to establish themselves on the positions of neo-Aristotlianism when they affirm that teaching is basically an habitus, that is to say practical wisdom acquired by doing. The doing of education puts the educator daily in the need of making micro-decisions that contrast with the process set by him at the time of planning and ask for immediate responses: here there is neither space nor time for theoretical reflection; the doing takes first place. All along, this does not mean that theoretical moment has no importance. This functions at least in three directions in relation to doing exercises / activities.: • It constructs the scenario which the educator cannot ignore. There is no educative praxis, as Bruner4 explained well, that does not move from a pedagogy which is more or less implicit: basically we are all (at least at first) conditioned by our studies, our readings and by our experiences. A theory of ME is, I repeat, more or less implicit: we, all of us, have it in our head; • It must constitute the meta-reflective moment in which the educator reaches an awareness regarding the methodology and the means to be used in education. To do theory in ME must mean emphasising the process, reasoning out on the experiences, evaluating them, finding right channels and modalities. • Finally, the theory has to constitute also permanence in the up-dating activity of the Media Educator. It means that he has to meet daily with the models, the hypotheses, the methodologies that the research proposes them; a meeting which is capable to trigger off meta-reflection and to promote determination for change. 4. The last description is about the area of intervention. One who does ME is accustomed to think in terms of school and, in particular, the primary stages of schooling as the working area taken for granted for ME. This manner of thinking is typically European or North-American. If we look at the Latin-American Movement, for example, we realise that ME does not have the school as its only privileged place. It is actually meant for the adults. In the basic community movements ME becomes political education, space for exercising divergent thinking, time for human development. This remark makes us to understand one important thing: the fact that our tradition lead us to think of ME in the area of school does not necessarily mean it is the only area for doing the ME. The changed socio-cultural and productive conditions of our time reminds us, in fact, to create space for ME also in other areas: • The areas of outside school: that is to say all the reality of experience that the didactics today call "decentralised teaching places", like the entertainment centres, the museum, the library. I ask: can the professional educators and the socio-cultural animators who work in these areas today not have the competence of ME? • We can think of the non-profit organisations, social structures. We can include in this all the socio-educative agencies working for and assisting people in difficulty (psychiatric 4

patients, ex-drug addicts, ex-alcoholics, prisoners, young people at risk). Let us think in what way the media can offer educative richness to these contexts. Can we not propose that in the training of workers there be a right place for ME or that the Media Educator becomes part of the team of educators involved in these contexts. A third area is that of profit and business making ones. At this level there are two aspects that are to be understood. One is the process of production which is getting transformed more in the sense of assuming new technologies and knowledge about the proper ambient. The worker is always a symbolic worker, a worker of knowledge who is asked to meet with the new technologies, mange them, and use their languages. The other aspect of input comes from the filed of business training in which the adoption of theatre techniques (as the role-play and the simulation) and of multi-media instruments (one can think of the different forms of web training) indicate in the direction of a change wherein the traditional class room techniques of management will be changed into a multimedia set-up. Once again we ask ourselves: whether every single worker, in as much as a worker in a society of knowledge, should not be a media educated himself; whether the formator of 2000, by force of multi-media, must not be a Media Educator.

The prospect that emerges from all what has been said is certainly very ambitious. As it is understood it is not so much about how the ME can become part of school curriculum or of learning in the society but rather how it is possible to do without it. In this sense the hypothesis we like to advance is that Media Education can be accredited as a new evolving stage of formation: it is like saying that education, teaching and formation of the next century cannot but be thought of as media processes in the different ways as we have said above.

Point of view

Instrumental ------------------------------------------Thematic Expressive ------------------------------------------Critical Practical ------------------------------------------Theoretical

Media for formation --------------------------------------Formation to the use of media Writing with media --------------------------------------Reading the media Reflection on media at the level of: - Scenario - meta-reflection on the processes - up-dating Formal education --------------------------------------socio-cultural animation


Working level

Area of intervention

School ------------------------------------------Extra school (museum, theatre, library) ------------------------------------------Non profit sectors (working for people in --------------------------------------difficulty, assistance) education to social-service ------------------------------------------Profit (firms, training) --------------------------------------professional training


Origin and boundaries On the basis of the "broader" idea of ME that we have just now established, it will be possible now to reflect closely on the theoretical configuration of this discipline indicating the background scenario, constituted by the meeting of the communication sciences and of education. Within this logic the theoretical dues of ME (Semiotics, Cultural Studies, Sociology, Pedagogy, Didactics) and its subject boundaries (instructional technology, organisational culture) can be pointed out. Let us start from the background. Talking to those students taking Masters degree in ME of the Catholic University of Milan5, Geneviève Jacquinot pointed out the cross-cutting aspect of the sciences of education and of communication. With this terminology an attempt is made to make reference to their aspects of science boundaries, which import aspects and characteristics of other sciences taking a spurious outlines of subject that is not often acceptable to the academic circles accustomed to well defined subjects both in their aim and in their methodology. Connecting it this way from this point of view means not considering ME anymore as an "baggage-discipline", in which anything can be put in, but as a "frontier-discipline" capable of getting supports both from the sciences of communication and education. From the communication science, Media Education changes the research methods, receives indications to consider Media Education as a terrain of negotiation; from the sciences of education, a frame for utility (capacity to place the knowledge in view) and a space for confrontation and reflection6. This cross-cutting nature, this frontier position between the sciences of communication and of education is clearly seen also when we reflect on the theoretical debts of ME, which can be identified in both the directions. In the field of social communication there are at least three areas of research that influence the work of the Media Educators. • semiotics, from Roland Barthes to Umberto Eco, from whom ME gets, in particular, the methodology for the analysis of texts (Cf. below); • the sociology of communication, its orientations (from Bullet Theory, Cultivation Theory of Gerbner to the Reception Theory) have always conditioned the way in which the Media Educators thought of the consumption practices and the importance of ME in the formation of these practices; • cultural Studies (Stuart Hall, Raymond Williams), finally, constitute a sort of theoretical hinge between semiotics and the sociological approach placing the coding-decoding of the message in relation with the productive logic and their ideological enrolment (thanks to the re-conceptualisation of some neo-Marxists categories, Gramsci's hegemony or ideological instrument of state of Althusser). So also the filed of "recovery" which the ME operates from the sciences of education has been articulated: • first of all, there is a strong debit regarding the pedagogical research tradition that theorises the importance of doing particles / exercises in education. However, with the logical arguments and clear differences of the pedagogical activism of Dewey, the Freinet's point of view, the pedagogy of the oppressors of Freire (the reference point discussed mainly by the south-American Media Educators) can be cited;


all the experiences of those educators who have theorised a fundamental role for the media languages in the educative works, from the forerunner Comenius to Freinet, tutelary deity of the Print media in class, have "impact" on the ME; • then, of course, ME owes very much to the didactics that has been traditionally always self-interpreted as a science of communication dedicating vast area to the role of media as symbolical mediators in the educative process - that is to say as instruments through which the rapport can be created between the persons and the values out of which education intends to produce socialisation. Today, Media Education, while preserving this "traditional" identity, sees the need to revise itself in a socio-cultural context that is becoming bigger and changing rapidly. There are two important aspects in this change: the role of the new technologies that is always becoming crucial (NTC) and the imposing business model as interpretative paradigm of the different human experiences. These aspects have given greater strategic discipline-like function as the Technology for Instruction and as the Organisational theory which as for its title can be considered frontier disciplines regarding ME. The Technology for Instruction can be understood, say, as hard-ware of ME: this coincides with it from the point of view of what has been said as being "instrumental". It reflects on the media technologies in as much as they are supports / areas of understanding. The Organisational Theory, established in the business context during the Taylorist period as instrument of diagnosis and to maximise the product, is now becoming the orientation approach for the different sectors of our social system, from school to non profit sector: from the Organisational Theory ME can adapt the systematic approach for the planning of situations, techniques and models. Thus, the concept of Media Educator can be confirmed, as we have explained. He is not only educator, but also expert in multimedia and formation programmer.

The Research Traditions Many contributions have been made in constructing the history of ME7. We, rather, prefer to offer just a few useful points in order to have a general idea of the experiences done till today. To do this we will follow some guiding principles. The first of these principles is the attention given by the Media Educators as regards the media specifics. It is easy to observe how this already consents to single out some "stages" / periods / phases of ME. The period of print medium, for example, is the first one through which the ME may have gone through. In 1930s, while making its first steps in the English speaking countries, ME is said to be about the comic-books, romantic novels - in other words it is about the products of the nascent cultural industry which confronts with the products of the high culture, of the literary tradition in order to create for each one grater quality-space and greater meaning. In 1960s (perhaps already at the end of 1950s) ME discovers the cinema. The reasons for this have to be found in the theoretical work of two magazines like the "Cahiers du Cinéma" and "Screen" which paved the way for the cinema to be recognised as an art medium. Some aspects already indicate in this direction - the choice of literary subjects, the nature of narrative, the type of festive consumption -: to these the "Cahiers" add full recognition of authorship to the directors (Rossellini can be considered "author" just like Faulkner or Proust) and "Screen" begins to use for cinema the same means that criticism was using for literature (particularly, the analysis of ideology and psychoanalysis) making the base for the developing of film analysis. 7

With the coming of television as mass consumption (in Italy it coincides with 1974, date that indicates the end to the state television monopoly and the birth of the first commercial television) ME discovers television as its new object of study which remains, all along 1980, the true and proper focus of major part of intervention. The aspect that makes the television very interesting to the educators is the its persuasive nature as medium, its pervading presence in the houses, its capacity to exercise important social and cultural functions: the television is a central story-telling system8, a device for ritual, an opportunity for socialisation, an important arena for cultural negotiation and for emotive investment. Television, then, is violent; it exhibits explicitly the topics of sexuality, promotes consumerism through advertising; it is also given to children. In brief, there is a series of aspects that make the television as the object of preferential attention of the Media Educators: in 1980s, teaching the media would mean almost nothing but teaching the medium of television. It is in 1980s, the computer begins to have an import place both in the social practices and in the daily school teaching / learning9. This phenomenon is stressed during 1990s only to explode definitively with the diffusion of all pervading internet. Today the Internet - I hope it is - taking over the place of television, because it seems to propose to the educators the same problems of television but certainly at a more dangerous level. During the 1990s ME gradually started to become as Computer Education (although it does not mean that today it does not continue to include the print medium, cinema and television). A second adaptable guiding principle in the historical reconstruction is the privilege that Media Education has given to some methodologies rather than others. From this point of view it is possible in 1980s to single out a caesura of the time in the approaches of ME, that which brings from important methodologies substantially to the analysis of message (text oriented) a methodology always more interesting, instead, to the real consumerism of these messages from the part of the public (reader oriented). We will come to these two important types of approaches in ME, soon. Finally, a last guiding principle, is made by singling out of the different periods of ME in relation with the dominance exercised in that precise historical moment by a particular theoretical model. The frame-work of these models is now consolidated at the level of scientific literature and agrees to single out four types of approaches to ME: • The inoculative approach was the first one to be adopted already in 1960s. The metaphor makes reference to the function of vaccination which was made known to education in the order of media and responds to the other metaphor like the hypodermic model, according to which the effects of the media on the public were gauged (starting from 1930). The media inject in the spectator their ideologies in such a way that the spectator is unable to do anything. In this case education is designed to provide protection against these effects. All this reflects a negative idea of the media and gives a defensive and projectionist impression about education. The inoculative approach was followed by the popular arts paradigm10. This model went beyond the idea of inoculation and maintained in itself basically the discriminative aspect. Film was considered to be a medium worthy of attention in schools. It mainly aimed at telling the difference between the good and the bad film, the authentic and shoddy one; and distinguishing from the commercial and exploitative films. 1970s were marked with the model of critical reading. This is the period which concerns more the need of semiotics. The result is a strong orientation to the text of the educative work and the consecration of the textual analysis. The directions in which this means is made use of are multiple: from the analysis of palimpsest to the analysis of genres, from the narrative analysis to the symbolic analysis, from the analysis of codes to that of the 8

stereotypes. It is during this period some important principles of ME are defined: the principle of the non-transparency of the media, the character of constructing mediated messages, the construction of critical thinking as ultimate end of the educative work with the media. The knowledge that this type of approach ending up with sacrificing the real profile of the reader in concomitance with the pragmatic slant, which all through the period (1980s) concerns the sciences of communication (cf. below), takes the Media Educators to develop a wider approach to the media drawing on the reflection of the social studies. There are two things in particular to be corrected: the integration of the exclusivity of the text with attention to productive contexts, their value inscription, the ideological logic to go about; a new centrality of the reader wherein his consuming habits and the spontaneous ways of interpreting of texts to re-construct the evaluation charts and his subcultures are analysed.

Obviously the above time-phases we have constructed basing on these guiding-principles must not be considered as water-tight compartments and above all this should not make one feel that after 1960s, for example, that there was no inoculative approach or that till today there are no Media Educators who exclusively carry out the textual analysis. The field is complex: all these elements discussed above often co-exist with one another. There is not one ME, but there are many. This certainly constitutes richness, but in the long run it could make the process of making the ME, as a proposed subject, very difficult. Therefore, the word order, could be this way: let us reduce the complexity, let us define the object, methods and paradigms of ME better.

Figure 1 - the historical axis of ME




Social Studies

Inoculative Approach Popular Arts Critical Reading

Cinema Television Computer, Internet
Textual analysis

Consumption analysis

In this scheme the different paradigms adopted by ME are visualised in one single chart. The media that are presented here are the ones which the ME has reflected upon and the types of methodological means that have been used. The extension of the arrows indicate the general outlines the temporal areas covered. It has to be noted how the various media and methodologies continue to be studied and applied practically till today. So also the four successive paradigms are not to be thought of in terms of mutual exclusion (the successive one puts aside the previous one) but of accumulation (the previous one carries on and coexists with the successive one).


Texts and Consumption The last describing factor that we singled out in order to define the status of science of ME is that of the method. In the preceding paragraphs we have already mentioned about the possible standard-work-methodologies of the Media Educators. It is the analysis of the text and the analysis of consumption. Let us, now, try to say something more about that. 1. ME meets the textual analysis, made possible by both Barthes and Eco11, obtaining two views of works. The first one is the idea that the media may be considered to be "opaque", that is, their representation of the reality may not be natural but the result of the activity of the enunciating subject. The second indication is the enlargement of the concept of textuality so as to include the more prosaic manifestations of the mass media culture: with these same means the both the analysis of the literary texts and the images of Franchi and Ingrassia can be realised (as suggested by Eco in the Absent structure12), like a plate of fried potatoes, a meeting of catch or a strip-tease (according to the indication of Barthes in Mythologies13). This double instance - which takes shape in ME, especially, in the narrative analysis and in the analysis of codes - undergoes a double correction during 1970s and 1980s. In 1097, the correction, of course, was offered by the British Cultural Studies, in particular, by Stuart Hall and Raymond Williams. The merit for having recognised the importance of the economy and political apparatus in the process of meaning production, regarding the mass media, is attributed to these authors. Regaining the texts of neo-Marxism, Hall and Williams theorise the media reality as the symbolic space of negotiation of meanings in which the cultural hegemony is in play in a particular society. This makes in such way that the analysis (to the extend of running the risk of isolating the text from its context) - which until now stressed in an excessive way the textual dimension - takes into consideration the institutional dimension: the reasons of economy and politics (often snubbed by the european theorists) appear on the foreground and direct the textual analysis in "ideological" sense. But the experience of the Cultural Studies suggests also a second important correction of the standard models of the textual analysis. To say that the media are a space of symbolical negotiation, in fact, implies assuming a new point of view on the textuality: it is not considered anymore as a message (dictum), but as an act of Communicaiton (dicere). From this radical change of view the pragmatic approaches to the text become responsible all through 1980s. In these, the attention of the analyst goes to the strategies, rather than to the structures from which the text is made, with the aim to make his spectator: a text is not only an object of communication, but a system of instruction for use which is handed to the reader, so that he can make use of it. As Umberto Eco says: <<If a text begins with "Once upon a time there was a…", it gives a signal which immediately selections the proper reader model, which should be a child, or someone who is ready to accept a story that may go beyond the common sense14>>. From all these points we can say that doing textual analysis in ME would mean taking into considerations three fundamental dimensions: • the textual dimension (grammatical elements, codes, narrative structures); • the institutional dimension (context of economy, politics, ideological entries); • the pragmatic dimension (strategies of communication, enunciating pact15). 2. To reduce ME to textual analysis - even though with the correctives of the Cultural Studies and of the pragmatics - would be mean only risks. The Media Educators themselves have realised this in two ways:


above all, the risk of perpetuating the models of social production typical of the traditional didactics. In fact, it is taken for granted that teaching to do textual analysis may end up in making itself in the teaching of and analysing the texts as we analyse them. This means an excessive stress of the centrality of the educator. Therefore it does not create autonomy but dependence. • the other risk is that while working exclusively on the texts, the culture of the one who reads and analyses may be forgotten, thus, losing sight of the natural processes of approaches and of evaluation of the texts, in the artificial laboratory of the analysis To remedy these limits to the textual analysis, from 1980s onwards the methodologies of ethnography type, transformed by the social sciences, are added in a convincing way (the participant observation, the focus group or the life stories). These methodologies are very attentive more to the profiles of the readers and to their practical ways of getting to the texts rather than the text itself. These methodologies seem to have received two types of applications: • the so-called psychographic approach ( like in some experiences of Quinn and McMahon) in which to propose an audio-visual text to a class means to be able use it as a means of psycho-social diagnosis; that is, to bring out expectations, beliefs and values of the every student; • the cultural approach, in which to ask the students to draw up a classification of their TV or preferred musical programs means finding out find out the good ones, the preunderstanding and their sub-cultural memberships16.

3. Therefore, in the media aid-box of the Media Educator, there should be place not only for semiotic devices (for doing textual analysis), but also for ethnographic devices (for doing the analysis of consumption). Are they sufficient? Or do we think that there is a need for other competencies, other knowledge about methodologies? If we put ourselves into the "broader" perspective that we suggested at the beginning of this sharing, I believe that, at least, three other competencies of methodology can be integrated into the standard equipment of the Media Educator: • the knowledge of the methods of preparation and the management of formative processes supported by the technologies. We intend, in particular, the capacity for managing construction processes of hypermedia objects and of organising telematic net-work for cooperation and co-programming on line; • the knowledge of the methods of programming of the formative process and of the management of research in the educative filed (ex. the action research); • the technical knowledge for managing groups and of organising of work with groups.

A Masters degree in Media Education The aim that has been said at the beginning, that is, the defining of the epistemological status of Media Education, has made us to describe an articulated outline built on three basic convictions: • the idea that Media Education be a "forefront-subject matter", which cuts into the areas of gap between the sciences of education and of communication, and draws on the heterogeneous contributions: semiotics, didactics, Cultural Studies, Education Technology, organisational theories etc.; • the idea that Media Education be an subject of wider spectrum, which constitutes a new field of formation for the new Millennium, not only in the traditional area of school, but also in the extra-school curriculum, the profit and the non-profit making sectors alike; 11

the idea that ME be a flexible subject, which draws on the contributions of methodologies of different learning and puts into play at same time the multiple identities that are instrumental and technical, theoretical and operational, etc.

In the concluding part, we shall try to indicate the possible choices and spaces for the purposes of consolidating this disciplinary awareness and for obtaining its recognition within the Sciences of Education rather than of Communication. We can do this presenting the project of Master in Media Education which the Catholic University of Milan intends to set out for the academic year 2000-200117 in collaboration with the MED (Italian Association for the Education of Media and of Communication) ____________________________________________________________________________ 1. INSTITUTION 1.1. The Catholic University of Milan introduces a Course of scientific perfection (Masters degree) in Media Education. With this terminology, already now codified by the countries also outside the English speaking regions, we mean a particular area of the sciences of education, formation and communication science which consists in producing reflection and working strategies according to the media understood as integral resource for the formative intervention. 1.2. The reasons that lead to this launching will have to be found: • in the social presence of the media, in their socio-cultural relevance, in their problematic aspects that they present on the educative and deontological levels; • in the existence of a strong tradition of study and research on this disciplinary area in the european and outside-european context. In this regard our country seems to have a gap that needs to be bridged. • in the need of formation which comes from school, other educative agencies and from the profit making sectors - above all the computer and net-work technologies - about which the media are promoting a relevant change that demands competencies and special professional outlines in order to manage it in a better way; • in the experience that is already well developed in the academic year 1999/2000 through a specialisation course of post-graduation which now finds, in the economy of the autonomous didactics of the universities, the space for a stable collocation as Masters degree (of first or second level). 1.3. The Masters degree foresees a training merit fixed in 60 credits18. 2. OBJECTIVES OF FORMATION 2.1. Masters degree in Media Education proposes to prepare Media Educators who will be professionally capable of working readily in an interdisciplinary way in the forefront areas between the media and the formative processes, in schools, extra-school and in diverse forms of the profit making sectors. Specifically, it deals with training professional figures of advanced degree level: • to work with media and the new technologies in school, extra-school and in the profit making sectors; • to activate and run formative processes in mass media and multimedia communication technologies.


2.2. The training experience realised intends to strengthen the theoretical horizons with the possession of the means of mass media and multimedia commutations, the attitude to research with the cultural animation and the educative programming. Consequently, the co-operation among institutions, the integration between disciplines and technologies, and the cultural pedagogical synergy con with the mass media culture, constitute the details. 2.3. Access to media and technologies, also at the time of teaching, is considered fundamental. It is expressed through the pre-disposition towards on-line services for selftraining (lesson schemes, down-loadable materials, useful web-site links), the communication formation (FAQ, direct contact line with the teacher) and the co-operative training (newsgroups, group activities).



3.1. Masters degree foresees: • formative activities in the subject areas that characterise the sciences of education and of communication; • formative actives related to the cultural contest and to the interdisciplinary training; • formative activities related to the preparation for the final test; • practical activities of formation and orientation. 3.2. Curriculum specifications, spread over two semesters, include: • institutional courses (40 credits, of which 10 go for classroom didactics); • cross-curriculum modules (5 credits, of which 2 go for classroom didactics); • workshops (3 credits); • practical activities of formation (5 credits). 3.2.1. Regarding the institutional courses (each requires 30 hours of classroom teaching). They are done in the educational and communication subject areas: a) Area of communication. Sociology of communication and culture Theory and techniques of mass communication Theory and techniques of audio-visual languages Methodology of search b) Area of education Pedagogy of communication Technology of instruction / education Didactics Theory and techniques of animation 3.2.2. To the institutional courses, the following cross-curricular courses are added (each module needs 10/15 hours of classroom teaching). These courses require the integration of interdisciplinary competence insured by other areas: Ethics of communication and Professional deontology Educative programmes in the media Techniques for group management Evaluation methods in Media Education 13

3.2.3. For the completion of the theoretical preparation the following work-shops are needed: Media language workshops and multimedia programming Workshops on programming didactics Workshops on the analysis of audio-visual texts 3.2.4. The formative practical training is done in the second semester for a total of 5 credits. It is subject to a tutorship and has the characteristic of a professional internship. Its final scope can be that of writing a paper on the specialisation. The total credits for formation requested for the activities of practical training include the occasions of meeting with the professional world, days of conventions and the guided experiences. 3.3. The credits corresponding to each of the formative activities indicated are acquired by the student: • for the institutional courses, by passing the exam; • for the cross-curricular modules, by writing the required papers; • for the work-shops and practical training, by producing the respective audio-visual, multimedia materials and by presenting a report on the experience. 3.4. The title Master of Science is obtained through the realisation of a project in Media Education in the form of a written paper and / or a multimedia work which has to be discussed before a commission. The way of realising it foresees a tutorship of methodology and it gives a right to attain 7 credits.
42, (1995), 2, p.2. From now on Media Education stands for ME. 3 We ourselves have thought for long in this antithetical way the rapport between the two points of view. Cfr. P.C. Rivoltella, Mass Media e nuove tecnologie: opportunità formative in una società che cambia, <<Vita e Pensiero>>, 7-8, July- August 1997, pp.508-527. 4 J. Bruner, The Culture of Education, Harvard University Press, Harvard 1996. 5 G. Jacquinot, Scienze dell'educazione e Scienze della comunicazione in dialogo, Milano, 10-11 September 1999, mimeo. On the theme, Jacquinot had already spoken in Naples, during the Meeting Communication and Education. Meeting between two cultures (26-27 March 1999). On this occasion his contribution (Le choc des cultures: entre Jansenisme pègogique et hèdonisme culturel) reflected in a particular way on the apparent non-reconciliation of the two cultures: that of the school, giansenist because it's demanding, is characterised by work, fatigue; that of the media, hedonist because it's spectacular, is characterised by frivolity and by non-involvement of consumption. The text of the intervention and the other interventions of the meeting are due to be published. 6 On these aspects: P.C. Rivoltella, Comunicazione ed educazione: "interferenze". Linee per l'analisi di un incontro possibile, Naples, 26 March 1999, Mimeo. 7 Among the various contributions: J. Gonnet, Education et Mèdias, PUF, Paris 1997; A. Graviz, Media Education as a Discipline, Paper for the International Congress of Media Education, S. Paolo; L. Masterman, A Rationale for Media Education, in F. Mariet, L. Masterman, ed., Media Education in 1990's Europe, Council of Europe, 1994; B. Walsh, A Brief Hisotry of Media Education. In Internet, URL:
2 1

The definition is that which is given by Roger Silverstone. Cfr.: The Message of television. Myth and narrative in contemporary culture, Heinemann Educational Books, London 1981; Television, myth and culture, <<Resaux>>, 44/45, November-February, 1989-1990. 9 Cfr. A. Calvani, I nuovi media nella scuola, Carocci, Rome 1999. 10 Cfr. S. Hall, P. Whannel, The Popular Arts, Hutchinson, London 1964. 11 Cfr. Masterman, A rationale, cit. 12 U. Eco, La struttura assente, Bompiani, Milano 1968. 13 R. Barthes, Mythologies, Editions de Seuil, Paris 1957. 14 U. Eco, Sei passeggiate nei boschi narrativi, Bompiani, Milano 1995, p.11.



A complete panoramic view of the problems of the textual analysis in the formative processes can be found in: P. C.Rivoltella, L'audiovisivo e la formazione. Metodi per l'analisi, CEDAM, Padova 1998. 16 Cfr. B. Duncan, Mass Media and popular Culture, Harcourt Brace, Toronto 1988. 17 Who takes this Masters course naturally makes the project and will be the scientific Co-ordinator. 1818 One single credit, according to the reformed term of the Italian University, is equal to 25 hours of work completed from the part of the student. These hours can be attributed to the hours of lessons, of work-shops, of practical training, of personal study and of the writing of dissertation.