Research shows that distance learning has not led to the development of media literacy among students

At the end of the extended campaign, we conducted two surveys on the topic of distant learning and media literacy development for the 24 May, Bulgarian Education and Culture and Slavonic Literature Day – one with students and one with teachers. Thanks to the US Embassy grant we published and presented the results to journalists (via live-streamed conference) and the audience (via online and TV media) in June.

One hundred forty-four children took part in the survey for students, answering anonymously 11 questions related to the peculiarities of digital education, for which most of students and teachers had no prior experience and training. Essential for the subject of the study are the questions related to specific tasks – for teamwork, for finding, evaluating and comparing sources, for content creation. However, these activities alone do not guarantee the building of media literacy – it is equally important whether these tasks have been supported by adequately presented and well-mastered methods.

Only 30% of junior and high school students have worked with different sources after being familiar with the processes and criteria they must apply. This percentage decreases to 22% when students who have used this knowledge to perform a content creation task to assess their expertise in a specific subject are segmented. That is what the data from a survey conducted by the Media Literacy Coalition at the end of May and the beginning of June 2020 on the subject of the development of children\’s media literacy through distance learning show.

Four out of ten students who took part in the survey were given a task related to finding and evaluating sources of information online. However, only 30% performed such exercise after receiving instructions on the approach and criteria they should apply. 76% state that their teachers have given a task to create content to assess their knowledge in a particular subject. At the same time, most of them created content without purposefully working with sources of information and discussing the methods with a teacher.

These data indicate a wrong approach by teachers and a missed opportunity, given the immediate and unrestricted access to information on the Internet. Assigning tasks to produce content related to research and information retrieval should be accompanied by guidelines, examples, discussion and a requirement to refer to the sources of the data and statements used. Students need more support, assistance from teachers when they encounter difficulties, and most of all – competent leaders in the digital world. For this to happen, it is necessary to develop and introduce qualification programs for teachers both to improve their digital skills and to increase and periodically measure their media and information literacy.

Surveys of students and teachers on distance learning in terms of the development of media literacy and analysis of their results were conducted with the support of the US Embassy\’s Small Grants Program.

Title Image: Freepik

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