New contextual perspectives to European media literacy development – Introducing ICME

by Lauri Palsa & Ella Airola, National Audiovisual Institute, KAVI, Finland.

From abstract concepts to meaningful media literacy

Within the times of rapid development of digital technologies and the convergent nature of all that is media and societal and cultural, there is a need for timely and relevant media literacy solutions. Fortunately, the international field of media education is broad and diverse with a lot of knowledge, expertise and abilities to innovate. But finding common solutions is not necessarily a simple task.

Media education always takes place in a specific context, in a specific environment and with the participation of specific people. However, media education is often discussed at a high conceptual level. This means that there is a risk that the discussion becomes too abstract and overlooks local specificities while widening the gap between abstract ideas and practical applications. By turning the focus on local specificities, we can find ways to strengthen meaningful media education. In our Inclusive and Creative Media Education (ICME) project consortium we are planning to enhance local innovation, share learning and co-development in an effort to identify and propose solutions to complex challenges.

Local specificities as a bridge to successful cooperation

The ICME consortium is made up of partners grounding their work in diverse contextual backgrounds. Conducted by three main partners, the project consists of local pilots, three in each participating country, including Finland, Italy and North Macedonia. The main contexts of the project provide unique and diverse cultures from which to draw upon for media education.

North Macedonia is known for its rich and complex history, outdoor activities, and Mother Teresa, Italy for its art, architecture, fashion, and cuisine, and Finland for design, nature, and sauna culture. Education is highly valued in each country with its own special features. The project is based on an approach that considers local specificities, building on one’s own strengths, producing and developing activities and sharing the results developed, contextualising and learning from each other.

Locally relevant media education activities can find their ground, for example, in local culture, geography, environment, historical development, different communities, political situations, social institutions, people’s competences, values, missions and goals, and the influential ideas, interpretations and perspectives thart are attached to each. Identifying these specificities and reflecting on their significance creates a space for a new way of developing media education. Local approach can help to raise the quality of activities, make room for new ways of thinking, find ways of prioritising, effective ways of working together, communicating in a way that reaches out and finding sometimes even unexpected solutions.

Results: Meaningful solution for complex challenges

In the ICME project, we are developing operational models of innovative media literacy activities that can be shared and scaled up successfully crossing cultural, national and linguistic borders. The new operational models help a) to support professionals in developing their practices in a more inclusive manner, b) to promote learners’ creativity through the lens of critical media literacy, and c) to enhance a participatory culture among young people through sharing inspiring models for bringing societal changes via wise usage of media.  Throughout the project, a particular focus is put on identifyin contextual commonalities and specificities in media literacy work. In addition to the operational models and resources, a new methodology for contextual development will be published. This methodology will synthesize the common experiences and lessons learned throught the different contextualization processes.

Towards contextually aware sustainable development

Through contextual development,it is possible to 1) increase the quality of the developed media educational models, 2) take into account and support cultural diversity, 3) construct new cross-sectoral knowledge through multi-stakeholder perspective, 4) strengthen the applicability of the operational models and support their sustainability. 

These objectives are linked to the broader goals of developing media education. Firstly, by paying attention to local specificity, meaningful sharing and contextualisation of results and models of media education activities, we can focus on long-term actions that will help to further improve the quality of activities. This means, for example, developing practices based on the experience and knowledge already acquired. Secondly, contextualisation allows us to strengthen a glocal approach to media education development that combines global and local perspectives, thus creating space for wider international cooperation. Thirdly, by focusing on creativity, inclusiveness and participation, we can help to highlight themes that will help and address the challenges posed by the rapidly evolving media education media culture.

You can follow the progress of the project on our website where you can also find information about the project partners and current news. You can contact us if you want to collaborate or discuss and share your ideas and the importance of contextualisation in media education work.

Inclusive and Creative Media Education ICME is a consortium project funded by the Creative Europe -programme. Main partners are Institute of Communication Studies (North Macedonia), University of Florence (Italy) and National Audiovisual Institute KAVI (Finland).

Banner image by Marc Schulte on Unsplash

Lauri Palsa, PhD, Senior Adviser, National Audiovisual Institute, KAVI, Finland

Ella Airola, PhD, Project Manager, National Audiovisual Institute, KAVI, Finland