by Igor Kanižaj, University of Zagreb, Croatia; Maria José Brites, Lusófona University, Portugal & Luis Pereira, City, University of London, UK
The Routledge Handbook of Media Education Futures Post-Pandemic will be officially launched in September. Edited by Yonty Friesem, Usha Raman, Igor Kanižaj, and Grace Y. Choi, this publication includes a section about Librarians’ Perspectives from Croatia, Portugal and the UK – What is changing in teaching (digital) media education due to COVID-19 authored by Igor Kanižaj, Maria José Brites, and Luis Pereira.
This chapter describes the exploratory research on the challenges and opportunities for critical digital literacy in a teacher education programme during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
Focusing the students on the MSc transformative learning and teaching, the authors, Igor Kanižaj (University of Zagreb, Croatia), Maria José Brites (Lusófona University, Portugal) and Luis Pereira (City, University of London – UK), worked on the following questions: (1) what is the role of critical digital literacy in teacher education? (2) what tools, spaces, places, and practices are required? and (3) how has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted pedagogical approaches? The analysis focuses on the student-produced materials, interviews with student and teacher educators, and a reflection on the pedagogical approach that the research draws on.
Based on an anonymous online semi-open questionnaire to research the attitudes and opinions of Croatian elementary and high school librarians (N=487), the authors concluded that the first precondition of digital education in times of the pandemic is digital – infrastructural connection stability, as experienced in Croatia, Portugal and the UK, and suggested by the research, with an urgent need for action in low-income areas and disadvantaged contexts. The research presents 22 competencies divided into six areas, following the DigCompEdu (2019) framework, intending to improve and innovate education and training.
Furthermore, the pandemic has also affected the librarians’ perception of the importance of media literacy and media education. It has positively impacted the general usage of online platforms, although mostly without any strategy or systematic approach. An urgent need to digitalise their regular practices arose from the unforeseen circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. A significant change is recognised by librarians in the usage of online platforms/programmes in two different time periods: during the pandemic and before the pandemic.
Teachers and librarians had to learn mostly on their own and rely on their colleagues as the first help and support in online learning but also on Croatia’s Education and Teacher Training Agency (ETTA). However, this research shows that we must value initiatives like informal learning communities to find prompt and suitable solutions to the challenges that teachers face in their online activities.
Another relevant aspect is that, in a global context, the pandemic has put teachers’ and librarians’ ability to teach online centre-stage and has uncovered their need to gain more confidence in managing digital environments. Authors ask for more support and professional development programmes for librarians, especially more sustainable support from governmental institutions. This research furthermore suggests “that we should have a clear focus in resolving preconditions on how to actively engage learners while tackling the challenge of responsibility and engagement in the digital environment”.
Igor Kanižaj, Media Literacy Expert; Vice-President of Djeca Medija and Associate Professor, University of Zagreb, Croatia
Maria José Brites, Associate Professor, Lusófona University, Portugal
Luis Pereira, Senior Lecturer Educational Development, City, University of London, UK