ELIANT Conference November 28th, 2017
TOWARDS A HEALTHY DIGITAL ECOSYSTEM
Workshop 6, Summary
To illustrate the concerns of the European Waldorf movement in the field of media pedagogy, Georg Jürgens reported on recent lobby efforts of the European Council for Steiner Waldorf Education (ECSWE) directed towards the European Parliament. ECSWE organised this workshop to follow up on these activities by engaging the European Commission in an open debate on age-appropriate media pedagogy.
The first speaker, Konstantin D. A. Scheller, Policy Officer at DG EAC, European Commission, explained how the subsidiarity principle limits EU activities in the field of education to a merely supportive role. As a result, recommendations coming from Brussels are non-binding and rather general in nature to promote voluntary cooperation of member states towards shared goals.
In the field of media pedagogy, the Commission promotes balancing the negative effects of digital media on children by means of teaching their responsible and critical use. Given the omnipresence of digital technology in everyday life, the Commission recommends an early guidance.
The Digital Competence Framework for Citizens is meant to support Education ministries in this regard and describes 5 competence areas that European citizens should acquire in schools and throughout lifelong learning: 1) information and data literacy, 2) communication and collaboration, 3) digital content creation 4) safety 5) and problem solving. A similar Digital Competence Framework for Educators has been launched recently to support teachers.
The second speaker, Franz Glaw, Waldorf teacher at the Rudolf Steiner School in Düsseldorf, has been active in the field of media pedagogy for several decades. His take on media pedagogy is practice oriented and based on 5 convictions promoting a self determined life: 1) the need for an age-appropriate curriculum, 2) the integration of media pedagogy into academic subjects, 3) the support of child development, 4) the need for a creative use instead of passive consumption and 5) the importance of a connection to the world at large.
He illustrated his approach with three practical examples:
1. Teaching 8th grade students the critical and responsible use of Wikipedia as a source;
2. Producing a documentary on the Goethemuseum Düsseldorf with 9th grade students;
3. Producing a radio feature on Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzival with 11th grade students.
In the following debate, speakers and audience discussed the relevance of the Digital Competence Framework; how the Waldorf approach presented by Franz Glaw promotes media literacy and subject specific competences; their differing views on when to best start using digital technology in schools (setting age-limits vs. being flexible); how to reduce corporate influence on schools’ digital infrastructure and teaching material; the importance of providing quality teacher training; the feasibility of “bring your own device” policies; the importance of parental involvement; whether a period of analogue media pedagogy should precede digital media pedagogy in schools; how to find a healthy balance between analogue and digital means of instruction; the role of schools in promoting the responsible and critical use of digital technology.
In their closing remarks, both speakers agreed on the need for further exchange and suggested building bridges between civil society, practitioners and policy makers.