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Chi-KimCheung

Media
Literacy
Education in
China
Media Literacy Education in China
Chi-Kim Cheung

Media Literacy Education


in China
Chi-Kim Cheung
Faculty of Education
University of Hong Kong
Hong Kong, Hong Kong

ISBN 978-981-10-0043-0 ISBN 978-981-10-0045-4 (eBook)


DOI 10.1007/978-981-10-0045-4

Library of Congress Control Number: 2015959707

Springer Singapore Heidelberg New York Dordrecht London


Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2016
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Acknowledgements

When media education was first introduced into schools, it was regarded by some as
a Mickey Mouse subject (McCowan 2009; Clark 2012), and not many publica-
tions in this area appeared in first tier journals. When I first started my academic
career in the field of media education as a young researcher, I was well aware of this
but had a different view. As technology became more advanced, I was convinced
that media would exert a tremendous influence on people and that media education
would have a significant role to play in the future, so I have continued to teach and
conduct research in this field in the last 15 years. In 2006, I was awarded the most
prestigious research grant in Hong Kong to investigate the implementation of media
education in Hong Kongs secondary school curriculum. My efforts in the research
and teaching of media education were recognized by my external assessors when I
applied for tenure and promotion later in my academic career. Although I do not
know who they are, I owe much to them for their recognition of my achievements.
Please see below the extracts from their assessor reports:
Assessor i
Para 2: In short, his work continues to grow, and there has been notable growth in
just this past year.
Para 6: I would compare Dr. Cheung favourably with academic researchers in his
field.... In short, he is very productive, continues to focus on similar questions
and issues, i.e. he has a line (or lines) of research that he is pursuing.
Conclusion: I am impressed by Dr. Cheungs contributions to date, and I think he
may well have achieved the level of productivity and achievement necessary for
tenure and promotion at your institution.
Assessor ii
Para 1: I would consider Dr. CK Cheung to be an ideal appointment to the post of
Associate Professor with tenure.
Para 5: It is clear that Dr. Cheung is a significant figure in this field with an increas-
ingly important profile in terms of his research and international publications.

v
vi Acknowledgements

Para 6: The journals cited in his CV are generally high impact in their respective
fields.
Para 8: In this context Dr. Cheung has been extremely successful in getting his work
accepted and published at an international level.
Para 9: In my experience, the standard of Dr. Cheungs research and scholarship
compares very favourably with standards required and accepted by other univer-
sities for the tenured post of Associate Professor
Para 10: Dr. Cheung compares very favourably with other academic staff/research-
ers in his field. He manages to successfully convey his ideas to colleagues in
Southeast Asia and also in Europe and North America. This is not an easy task
and marks him out as an above average academic.
Assessor iii
Para 2: Dr. Cheung has published 23 journal articles and five book chapters. He has
an edited volume on Media Education in Asia scheduled to be published this
coming year. The magnitude of his work is consistent with what I would expect
from a scholar moving from Assistant to Associate Professor. Some of his jour-
nal articles appear to be in well-known and respected journals.
Assessor iv
Para 2: C. K. Cheung is making a significant impact on the field of media literacy
education in Asia.
Para 3: Also, his work is among the first to systematically demonstrate that media
literacy education (). This is a vital issue with relevance to both researchers
and practitioners.
Para 4: Professor Cheung has published in a variety of increasingly important schol-
arly journals. This article, in particular, is a strong work of scholarship that
examines the place of media literacy within the larger context of education
reform. This work is highly original and relevant to the development of the field.
Para 5: His work is a significant publication, because this book is a widely used
resource among scholars of media education worldwide. The trajectory of this
work points to his active research agenda and developing skills in contributing to
scholarly discourse in the field of education.
Para 6: Professor Cheung is clearly emerging as a leader in international media lit-
eracy education (). His research compares very favourably with that of
Associate Professors in comparable universities (). I would be an enthusiastic
supporter of the case based on this impressive dossier.
Assessor v
Para 2: Dr. Cheung has established a consistent record of research productivity in
peer-refereed journals.
Conclusion: Overall, I find this a good record for promotion and tenure ().
Dr. Cheungs research work is important, substantive, and recognized inter-
nationally as such. His leadership activities, his grant writing, show a strong
professional trajectory and a promising future ahead.
Acknowledgements vii

Assessor vi
Para 1: On the whole, I find Dr. Cheung a strong candidate for consideration of
substantiation and promotion to Associate Professor.
Conclusion: Compared to those cases I have reviewed in the past few years for (),
I see Dr. Cheungs application for substantiation and promotion a reasonably
straightforward case. I am quite sure that, given the kind of performance he has
delivered, he would not find it difficult to secure tenure and promotion to
Associate Professorship.
I have quoted the above extracts not to boast about my achievements but to
acknowledge the field of media education as an important field of study. As I am
entering a later stage of my academic career, it would be nice to combine two insep-
arable elements of my life: my identity as a researcher in the field of media educa-
tion and my identity as Chinese. This is why I would like to contribute with an
edited book to examine research on media literacy education in China.
I thank my wife Samantha and daughter Celeste for their full support in the
preparation of this publication, and I also wish to give full credit to Springer for
their willingness to publish this book. I hope this book can further explore and dis-
cuss issues in the field of media literacy education in general and its development
and implementation in China in particular.
To God be the glory!
Contents

Introduction ..................................................................................................... 1
C.K. Cheung
Teaching and Learning Media Literacy in China: The Uses
of Media Literacy Education ......................................................................... 11
Alice Y.L. Lee and Wang Tiande
Bringing Media Literacy Education into the School Curriculum:
A Trilevel Adoption of Innovation Model ..................................................... 31
Alice Y.L. Lee, C.K. Cheung, and Meily Cheung
Digital Media Use by Chinese Youth and Its Impact ................................... 47
Guofang Wan, Ellen Yeh, and Hong Cheng
Confidence Building, Empowerment, and Engagement:
An Argument for Practicing Media Literacy
Education in Special Education Settings in Hong Kong ............................. 65
C.K. Cheung
Using News Narratives to Learn About Gender
Ideologies in Contemporary China ............................................................... 73
Aditi Dubey-Jhaveri
Opportunities for Implementing Media Literacy Education
as an Obesity Prevention Strategy in China ................................................. 91
Yi-Chun (Yvonnes) Chen
Media and Its Influences on Adolescents Identity
in Hong Kong................................................................................................... 105
C.K. Cheung
School Initiative of Media Literacy Education in the Context
of the National Curriculum Reform .............................................................. 119
Wen Xu

ix
x Contents

Integrating Media Literacy Education into the School


Curriculum in China: A Case Study of a Primary School .......................... 133
C.K. Cheung and Wen Xu
Internationalising Chinas Digital Media Literacy Education ................... 147
Ian William Lang
The Future of Media Literacy Education in China:
The Way Forward ........................................................................................... 173
C.K. Cheung
Introduction

C.K. Cheung

Abstract Media literacy education in China is on the rise. From 2000 onwards,
quite a number of conferences on media literacy education were held in major cities
like Beijing, Shanghai, and Hangzhou. The time has come now for more evidence
from rigorous research on media literacy education in China from various teachers
and researchers. This introductory chapter outlines the themes of this book, namely
theorizing the implementation of media literacy education, practicing media liter-
acy education in schools case study in mainland China, argument for practicing
media literacy education in Hong Kong, reasons for the implementation of media
literacy education responding to the trend in China, and developing the future
media literacy education through learning from one another.

Keywords Social media Twenty-first century literacy Information technology


Curriculum Media literacy education Hong Kong

I first started my teaching and research in media literacy education in the 1960s,
focussing on the areas of learning, teaching and curriculum, specifically related to
the context of Hong Kong (Cheung 2001, 2004, 2005a, b; Cheung and Law 2002).
At the same time, the new millennium in 2000 saw a shift in the pendulum. With
Asian countries performing extremely well in the Programme for International
Student Assessment (PISA) and the Trends in International Mathematics and
Science Study (TIMMS) and Progress in International Reading Literacy Study
(PIRLS), educators started to turn their attention to the Asian cultural context to
examine different issues related to education. As such, it was worth exploring media
literacy education in Asia as well. In 2009, I investigated the development of media
literacy education in four major societies in Asia, namely, South Korea, Japan,
Taiwan and Hong Kong. I chose Taiwan and Hong Kong because both are Chinese
communities, with the former possessing a more traditional Chinese cultural heri-
tage and the latter being an international city where East meets West. I chose Japan
and South Korea because both are leading Asian countries in the area of media

C.K. Cheung (*)


Faculty of Education, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong
e-mail: cheungck@hku.hk

Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2016 1


C.K. Cheung, Media Literacy Education in China,
DOI 10.1007/978-981-10-0045-4_1
2 C.K. Cheung

products. My comparison focused on the following issues: the general pedagogical


transition from inoculation to empowerment, the roles of government policy and
educational reform in facilitating the development of media literacy education and
the strength of partnerships between educationalists and local media and religious
organisations. I found that media literacy education in the four Asian societies sur-
veyed had undergone an initial stage of development that was characterised by a
protectionist approach to pedagogy. With the possible exception of Taiwan, how-
ever, media educators in these societies soon moved beyond the inoculative para-
digm, and the concept of empowermentof empowering students to become
critical consumer and producer of media textssoon took root. Moreover, students
active engagement in media production has come to be seen as a crucial component
of media education. All these positive developments have not only been driven by
grass-roots support but also benefited greatly from constructive and effective gov-
ernment policy decisions, as well as from strong partnerships with the media, reli-
gious groups and other organisations outside the formal educational system.
Later on, I extended my investigation by including altogether 13 countries,
which resulted in an edited book, Media Education in Asia (Cheung 2009a). After
the publication of this book, I received many invitations to speak at various confer-
ences to explore issues arising from the publication of the book. These issues
included: Is there an Asian model in media literacy education? What is the way
forward in the development of media literacy education in the globalised world?
What is the influence of social media on media literacy education in Asia? What is
the impact of media literacy education on Chinese youth? Of the many invitations,
most came from China, and it is clear that media literacy education has become an
important issue in China.

1 The Challenges of Developing Media Literacy Education


in China

China is known for the control of the media (Stockmann and Gallagher 2011; Esarey
2005). The Chinese government has long kept tight control on both traditional and
new media to prevent potential challenges to its authority. The Chinese government
has tightened control through laws and regulations, with massive filters to monitor
and eliminate contents. As described by Esarey and Qiang (2010: 299):
At central and local levels, the state censors Web traffic to ensure healthy social value, deter
gambling, eliminate porn, punish swindlers, and excise the unhealthy views of religious
cults, ethno-nationalists, and democratic reformers.

In 2010, the government issued its first white paper on the Internet requiring all
Internet users in China to abide to Chinese laws and regulations. Government poli-
cymakers will want the members of the society to conform to the governments
ideology, but fortunately or unfortunately, China has advanced into a stage that is
difficult to exercise its political hegemony through laws and regulations and the
control of the mass media.
Introduction 3

With its rapid economic growth since the new millennium, China has become a
superpower in the world. Economically speaking, China surpassed Japan as the
worlds second-largest economy in 2011 and was second only to the USA. What is
more, the entertainment industry in China is also flourishing, and Chinese movies
have won many international awards. For example, in 2013, the Cannes jury
awarded the best screenplay to Jia Zhangke for the movie, A Touch of Sin, and in
2014, Diao Yinans Black Coal, Thin Ice took home the Golden Bear at the Berlin
International Film Festival. Furthermore, the market is big enough to attract foreign
investors either to treat China as an important market or even to collaborate with the
Chinese capital. For instance, in 2014, the movie, Transformers: Age of Extinction,
earned the tremendous sum of nearly US$4 billion in China at the box office, nearly
double the US box office. Nowadays, China has the largest number of children
viewing TV in the world, and, in addition, the quantity of Internet usage is increas-
ing. Table 1 shows that the number of netizens in China has reached 564 million in
2012 (CNNIC 2014).
Furthermore, the use of social media is rapidly on the rise, and more and more
people are shopping online. The findings of Table 1 are in line with those of similar
research done in other countries (Livingstone 2009) and echoes Zhangs survey in
15 cities across the country, which investigated the media consumption habits of
students aged between six and twelve and found that the number of students exposed
to the media was increasing (Zhang 2013). Evidence shows that the media has
become a significant factor in the growth and development of children in China.
With the changing media environment, the question becomes which is more effec-
tive? Legislation or education? We believe, in this case, media literacy education is
more effective than top-down government controls and legislations. By teaching
children media literacy skills, we provide them with life-long learning and living
skills that will be needed for the twenty-first century. In fact, the significance of
media literacy education has been noted with more and more researchers, and schol-
ars have joined the conversations, national conferences have been held, research
institutions and centres have been established, and graduate programmes have been
set up to promote media literacy education in China. According to Tan et al. (2012),
Xia introduced media education into China for the first time in 1994. Later on, Bu
(1997) traced the evolution of the concept of media education in Western countries

Table 1 Internet development in China (2013) facts and figures


Internet By December 2013, 618 million of the people in China had access to the
access Internet
The penetration rate was 45.8 %
Mobile By December 2013, the number of people accessing the Internet through
access mobile phones reached 500 million, 80 million more than the previous year
81 % of netizens used mobile phones to access the Internet
The number of netizens who accessed the Internet using mobile phones
exceeded that of users who did so by desktop computer
Mobile phones became the top means of accessing the Internet in China
4 C.K. Cheung

and analysed the significance, content, implementation and methods of media edu-
cation. After the Media Literacy Education Research Center formally established in
Communication University of China in 2002, media literacy education became
more popular.
As was the case in the West (Cheung 2009a), media literacy education first
started in China as a means to protect students from negative media influences.
From 2000 onwards, quite a number of conferences on media literacy education
were held in major cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou, and from the pre-
sentations of various teachers and researchers, it was noted that sporadic and spon-
taneous teaching about the media existed in some primary and secondary schools.
The survey done by Zhang and his team (2013) indicated that teachers in schools
and universities had voluntarily conducted experiments in media literacy education
in the form of extracurricular lectures and online homework. Still, with the absence
of a clear government policy on education, its development is far from satisfactory.
Parameswaran (2010) lamented the fact that, although Chinese scholars have been
exploring the theory of media literacy education for quite a while, there have been
few studies of the process and outcomes of education in a specific setting. The time
has come for more evidence from rigorous research on media literacy education in
China.
In doing this, the first question comes to mind is the various definitions of media
literacy education media educators use in the last 40 years. The term media educa-
tion was originated in June 1973 at a meeting of member organisations held in
UNESCO and read as follows:
the study, learning and teaching of, and about, the modern media of communication and
expression as a specific and autonomous area of knowledge within educational theory and
practice, distinct from their use as aids for the teaching and learning of other areas of
knowledge, such as mathematics, science and geography (IFTC 1977, p. 3)

Apart from this traditional or official definition, with the development of


media education in other countries, there are numerous different definitions of
media education and some use media literacy and media education interchange-
ably. In the USA, Thoman (1995) suggests that media literacy is a study of the mass
media for increasing peoples critical understanding of what mass media are and
how they work and produce meaning. Martens (2010) considers media literacy to
be a series of communication competencies, including the ability to access, analyse,
evaluate or produce media messages, and Burn and Durran (2007) discuss the dif-
ferent models of media literacy. Hobbs (1994) notes the different use of terms and
concludes that media education is a child with a thousand names (p. 453), and
Chen (2007) echoes and states that those common names, such as media literacy,
media studies and critical viewing, are all used interchangeably with media educa-
tion. In Europe, the use of media education was accompanied with media literacy
at the beginning of the twenty-first century (Tornero et al. 2007).
In this book, media literacy education will be used to include media studies,
media literacy and media education. We will examine the prevailing perspectives on
media literacy education in China and the kinds of spaces that have been developed
Introduction 5

for its implementation out of the present curriculum reform. It is hoped that this
book stimulates debate, policy and further research on media literacy education in
China.
The contributors are all respected advocates of media literacy education in China.
The publication of this book consolidates the many discussed issues of media liter-
acy education in China and provides a platform for media educators to discuss
media literacy education further from different perspectives under different themes:

2 Theorising the Implementation of Media Literacy


Education

Lee set the scene with two co-authored chapters to discuss the theoretical frame-
work leading to the implementation of media literacy education in Hong Kong and
mainland China. Some examples in the West show that a bottom-up approach is
adopted in the development of media literacy education, with much of the enthusi-
asm being generated from the grass roots, amongst teachers (Cheung 2009b).
However, its successful progress will have to depend on the support of others.
Indeed, as observed in other countries, a strong partnership is essential in the devel-
opment and implementation of media literacy education (Cheung 2009a), especially
from the universities. In mainland China, help from universities in the development
of media literacy education in schools has become a dominant practice. The chapter
by Lee and Wang studies how Zhejiang University of Media and Communications
and its partnering schools in China strategically carry out media literacy education
in the present sociopolitical system to meet both their institutional goals and social
goals. Lee and Wangs findings show that media literacy education is used in many
ways by different stakeholders at national, university and school levels.
Although the media literacy education programmes have been initiated by the
same university, the curricula approaches of schools are different due to the varied
goals of the schools. The authors describe how different schools have their own
media literacy agendas. An individual schools media literacy education agenda
significantly affects the way in which its media literacy programme is conducted.
Some schools use media literacy education to strengthen their media production
concentration in order to build up the brand name of the school and improve student
recruitment. Others use it to cultivate the moral virtue of their students, while some
regard it as a useful tool for training media elites.
Another chapter by Lee et al. reports on the adoption of media literacy education
in a primary school in Hong Kong. The study shows that the adoption of an educa-
tional innovation is in fact a complicated process, which involves individual, organ-
isational and societal factors. Findings in this study indicate that teachers
understanding of media literacy education, reflective teaching, school support,
innovativeness of the school and the benefit of media literacy education for a
6 C.K. Cheung

certain subject named Liberal Studies (Cheung 2009c) are the more prominent
predictors.

3 Practising Media Literacy Education in Schools: Case


Study in Mainland China

As China is a very big country, it is difficult to conduct a national research. In this


book, two case studies are used to illustrate the implementation of media literacy
education in China. Xus chapter outlines the implementation of media literacy edu-
cation in the context of the national curriculum reform. Her account echoes Cheungs
(2009a, b, c) research showing the importance of policy in the inclusion of media
literacy education in the curricula. Cheung wrote (2009a: 5): Though the develop-
ment of media education, as has been observed in many countries, and begins with
a bottom-up movement, its continual growth requires the blessing of the govern-
ment, with a policy that may directly or indirectly help the development of media
education. However, Xu, in her chapter, also stresses that, besides the top-down
educational reform from the government, schools could promote media literacy edu-
cation through the schools own initiatives, as well as university-school
partnerships.
It is also noted from Xus chapter that since 2008, the research of media literacy
education in mainland China has switched from the first phase of introducing for-
eign theories and advocating the importance or necessity of media literacy education
in China to a new phase of developing indigenous media literacy education courses
and putting ideas into practice on the basis of the local situation of basic education.
In 2010, the environment of research and practice of media literacy education
changed greatly throughout the world due to the emergence and rapid popularisation
of new information technologies such as tablet computers, smart phones and mobile
Internet. In mainland China, researchers have launched studies on digital learning in
basic education based on new technologies including tablet computers, cloud com-
puting and so forth. How to adapt the concept, content and form of media literacy
education in the era of digital learning is a new challenge.
The next chapter, Integrating media literacy education into the school curriculum
in China: A case study of a primary school, by Cheung and Xu reports on research
into how a primary school is achieving its purpose of implementing media literacy
education. In this chapter, the implementation of media literacy education is done
through its integration with information technology education. This echoes a youth
media education survey carried out by UNESCO (Domaille and Buckingham 2001)
suggesting that new developments in media literacy education were expected
through the use of ICT in schools and that, it was hoped, greater competence with
the relevant technologies in general could result in the development of a more formal
media literacy education curriculum. It is vital then that media literacy education,
rather than ICT, is presented with the challenge and task of providing a supportive
Introduction 7

framework within which students can explore new media literacies. Furthermore, as
media literacy education is still not a stand-alone subject in China, the integrated
model seems to be the way forward for the time being.

4 Argument for Practising Media Literacy Education


in Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, Cheungs research indicates that media literacy education is imple-
mented for various reasons and in different subjects. His survey in primary schools
and secondary schools confirmed that education reform play a significant role in the
implementation of media literacy education and moral and civic education is a pop-
ular subject where media literacy education could be integrated (Cheung. 2004,
2005b, 2007).
In responding to a statement made at the 21st Century Literacy Summit
Educating for the Media and the Digital Age (Gundacker 1999: 274) claiming
that media literacy education should be aimed at empowering all citizens in
every society and should ensure that people with special needs and those socially
and economically advanced have access to it, Cheungs chapter argues that
media literacy education can help students with disability combat media stereo-
types, actively participate in society and become engaged in media production.
He argues for the incorporation of media literacy education into the special edu-
cation curriculum. Here, special education means education for children and
adolescents with various physical disabilitieshearing/visual impairments,
mobility impairment and so forth. This is important as students with special
needs are quite often deprived of the opportunities to access the media and are
also stereotyped by the media in many instances. Cheungs views echo those of
Hobbs (2014), who stated: Students enrolled in special education programs may
be more vulnerable to media influence because of limitations in skills, including
comprehension, inference making, and using social or environmental cues
(483).
In the discussion between the relationship between civic education and media
literacy education, Cheung finds out media can have great influence on the civic
identity of a person. In this book, his chapter on measuring personality and media
practices was carried out amongst high school students (N = 972) in Hong Kong.
Based on the results of the survey, participant values were content analysed for
types of media influences. A measure was calculated for each individual by compar-
ing the results of the personality values with participants reported media practices
and influences. The effects of various media on eight identity factors: personal
growth, community, gender role, health, beliefs, wealth, image and social identity
orientation were examined. Overall positive correlations between aspects of iden-
tity, such as personal growth, health, community, and social identity orientation and
media values influences, were observed. Implications of the findings are discussed,
8 C.K. Cheung

and the call for the implementation of media literacy education in the curriculum is
apparent.

5 Reasons for the Implementation of Media Literacy


Education: Responding to the Trend in China

As the world continues to be wired up electronically, and as people continue to


move their daily lives online, electronic media is becoming more and more promi-
nent in China. The chapter by Guo et al. presents the latest statistics on the media
use of Chinese young people and describes the unprecedented growth trends of
media use and the reasons why young people in China are so enthusiastic about new
gadgets and embrace activities on the Internet, as well as some potential effects of
their media use. Results of their study indicate the immediate need for enhanced
media literacy education in China, which will enable Chinese young people to
become mature users of new media and to avoid the negative effects of media use.
While dealing with the stereotyping of disadvantaged persons is a major concern
in Cheungs chapter, Dubey examines the ideological construction of gender identi-
ties in news narratives in China with a view to highlighting the need to enhance
media literacy education in this field. Through an exploration of the intersection of
journalism and gender ideologies, the chapter seeks to illuminate the role of media
framing in defining, establishing and reinforcing gender norms and roles in Chinese
society. Gendered frames allow journalists to simplify the complexities of the sto-
ries of men and women in their public and private spheres. Dubeys detailed qualita-
tive study of a corpus of ten feature articles from China Daily using a discourse
analysis approach revealed that news texts primarily construct ideals of manhood
and womanhood. Within a patriarchal and hierarchical media, state and social struc-
ture, representations of hegemonic masculinities persist in news narratives, while
negative stereotypes against LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered) com-
munities remain deeply embedded. With regard to women, it was found that, on the
one hand, the voices of rural, migrant women were marginalised, and on the other,
a select group of intellectual women who identified themselves as feminists was
occasionally represented in ways that ran counter to mainstream beliefs. These
results call for critically minded, media literate Chinese to pay attention to the forms
of transitional, as opposed to traditional, gender roles and ideologies that are emerg-
ing slowly but steadily through the news media.
As China becomes richer and is becoming the worlds second-largest economy
after the USA, peoples purchasing power increases. With adults thirst for luxurious
goods, children are fed with food that taste good but may not be nutritious. The
problem of childhood obesity could become a problem in China. Chens chapter
deals with this issue. Chen discusses the importance of incorporating media literacy
education into school and nonschool settings to combat childhood obesity in China.
She begins with an introduction to the obesity epidemic and the rising medical costs
Introduction 9

associated with obesity-related illnesses. She then explains how food marketing
contributes to childhood obesity by discussing food advertising expenditures, types
of food advertising and the tactics used in food marketing to attract childrens
attention.

6 Development Through Learning from One Another

As the study of the development of media literacy education is dominated by


Western models, it is worthwhile to borrow some from the West to facilitate the
discussion of media literacy education in China. With Chinese youth so engaged in
digital media, Langs chapter explores how China is making use of digital media.
Lang seeks to analyse structural change amongst Chinas key media literacy educa-
tion providers to provide a digitally coherent approach to training new media con-
tent makers for both internal modernisation and employment and internationalisation
of Chinese culture. After summarising trends amongst key providers and agencies,
including advances in e-learning and non-entertainment-based production, the
chapter examines digitally useful curricula mechanisms intended to shift content
production from a self-centred focus to other focuses to enable authenticity in
Chinese self-representation and knowledge transfer in foreign markets. The chapter
concludes by examining the type of strategic partnerships with foreign universities
and media partners that may accelerate Chinas digital media literacy within the
context of e-learning.

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Teaching and Learning Media Literacy
in China: The Uses of Media Literacy
Education

Alice Y.L. Lee and Wang Tiande

Abstract This chapter examines the uses of media literacy education in China
through a case study in Zhejiang Province. The Chinese government welcomes
media literacy education for cultivating media literate civil servants, media profes-
sionals, and citizens, but no educational policy has been formulated to encourage
growth in this field. Some universities in China have taken the lead in developing
innovative strategies to introduce media literacy curricula into schools. Based on
structuration theory, this case study focuses on analyzing how Zhejiang University
of Media and Communications and its partnership schools strategically carry out
media literacy education (agency effort) under the present sociopolitical system
(structure) to meet both their institutional goals and social goals. Findings show that
media literacy is used in many ways by different stakeholders at national, university,
and school levels. Although the media literacy programs in the study were initiated
by the same university, the curricular approaches of the partnership schools are
different due to the schools varying missions.

Keywords Media education Structuration theory Agency analysis Use of


media literacy University-driven model

A.Y.L. Lee (*)


Department of Journalism, School of Communication, Hong Kong Baptist University,
Room 1025, 10/F, Communication and Visual Arts Building 5 Hereford Road, Kowloon,
Hong Kong
e-mail: alicelee@hkbu.edu.hk
W. Tiande
The Institute of Media Literacy Studies, Zhejiang University of Media and Communications,
998 Xueyuan Street, Xiasha Higher Education Zone, 310018 Hangzhou, China
e-mail: wtd37@126.com

Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2016 11


C.K. Cheung, Media Literacy Education in China,
DOI 10.1007/978-981-10-0045-4_2
12 A.Y.L. Lee and W. Tiande

1 Introduction

Media literacy education is the process of teaching and learning about the media,
with media literacy as the outcome (Buckingham 2003). In the past 40 years, media
literacy education has developed rapidly around the globe. In China, much discus-
sion and research on media literacy education has been conducted since 1997, but
few media literacy education programs have been carried out in schools and
communities. In recent years, some universities have taken the initiative to develop
media literacy education programs and introduce them to primary and secondary
schools. This helps media literacy get a foothold in the education system and in the
community.
In China, the Chinese government regards media literacy education as a useful
means to cultivate media literate government officials, media professionals, and
citizens. Within this social context, how do the universities and schools design and
conduct their media literacy education programs? How do they on the one hand
accommodate the national goal of media literacy and on the other hand try to achieve
their own institutional objectives?
The aim of this study is then to examine the many uses of media literacy
education. The study explores the ways in which media literacy education is used by
different stakeholders and examines what kinds of goals have been met. It also
investigates whether curriculum approaches differ as the goals of schools vary.
This chapter adopts structuration theory as its theoretical foundation. Through
agency analysis, it examines how university members and school principals (agents)
develop their media literacy curricula under the current sociopolitical environment
(social system). The implementation and structuration processes of the media
education program are put under close investigation.
The media literacy education program initiated by Zhejiang University of Media
and Communications (ZUMC) was selected as a case study as it is one of the
outstanding examples of a university-driven model of media literacy education in
China. Moreover, the program involves stakeholders at national level, university
level, and school level.

2 The Development of Media Literacy Education in China:


University-Driven Initiatives

The concept of media literacy was first introduced to China in 1997. Since then,
there has been much scholarly interest in media literacy education, and numerous
journal articles and conference papers have been written on the topic. Most of them
discuss the rationales of and theoretical approaches to media literacy. In 2004, the
first international conference of media literacy education was held in Beijing at
Communication University of China (CUC). In 2007, Fudan University organized
the Media Education Forum, and Zhejiang University of Media and Communications
Teaching and Learning Media Literacy in China: The Uses of Media Literacy Education 13

(ZUMC) held the First West Lake Media Literacy Summit. The development of
media literacy education started to gain momentum. Media literacy education
courses were included in university curricula, and media literacy research centers
were established. The Center for Media Education was established at CUC in 2004
and began to train graduates majoring in media education (Xu 2009). Over the
years, the tertiary education arena has become the nurturing base for media literacy.
However, media literacy was only studied as a concept as well as an emerging
academic discipline. There was a lack of instructional development for the school
system. In the early years, teaching of and research into media literacy education
was limited to the academic field.
Although the idea of media literacy has not yet spread widely at the societal
level, the need for media literacy education has increased as communication
technologies rapidly developed in China. After entering the Web 2.0 era and the
introduction of Weibo, WeChat, and other social networking sites, the media
environment in China underwent a sea change. By June 2014, 632 million people in
China had access to the Internet. The penetration rate was 46.9 % (CNNIC 2014).
The number of Weibo users reached 275 million. About 368 million netizens are
engaged in playing online games. In the mass media era, information was processed
by professional media people. However, in the Internet era, information on the Web
is not filtered, and media messages containing sex and violence circulate widely.
Moreover, young peoples Internet addiction has become a social problem too. The
new technological environment leads to concerns over regulation.
In fact, in the early 2000s, a series of documents had already been issued by the
Chinese government, including the National Youth Convention on the Network
Civilization: Several Opinions from the CPC Central Committee and the State
Council on Further Strengthening and Improving the Ideological and Moral
Construction of Minors. From the states point of view, there is a need to regulate the
media to provide the best possible media environment. At the same time, the state
also regards media literacy education as a helpful means to combat negative media
messages coming from the traditional media as well as from Weibo. Many feature
stories from Peoples Daily and Guangming Daily called for equipping young peo-
ple, particularly netizens, with media literacy (Yao 2010; Guo 2007; Li 2011).
On June 6, 2011, Peoples Daily published an important editorial entitled Media
Literacy Exemplifies the Quality of Governance (Peoples Daily 2011a). In this
editorial, all government officials are requested to cultivate their media literacy so
that they can constructively deal with the media. The aim is to guide them in treating
the media well, using the media well, and managing the media well. It is said that as
the world has entered the Web 2.0 age, government policy should transit to a
government 2.0 expression. Government officials should learn how to interact
with the public.
A subsequent commentary in August by Peoples Daily further suggested that
party leaders and civil servants should be equipped with media literacy first because
they are important sectors of society. Then media literacy education should be
conducted in schools to train young people in media literacy (Li and Dong 2011).
According to this commentary, enhancing the cultural quality of the citizens can
14 A.Y.L. Lee and W. Tiande

strengthen the soft power of China. In fact, in the year of 2011, many other official
media such as Guangming Daily, Liberation Army Daily, Democracy and Law
Times, and Xinhua Daily Telegram jumped on the bandwagon in promoting the
importance of media literacy for government leaders, government spokesmen, civil
servants, and soldiers (Cai 2012; Nie 2011; Peoples Daily 2011b; Ren 2011; Zheng
2011).
In the governments eyes, media literacy training is also good for media
practitioners. Due to increasing commercialization of the media in China, it is
considered necessary to strengthen the professional ethics of media practitioners. It
is suggested that there is a close link between media literacy and the medias social
responsibility (Yao 2012).
In brief, although media literacy is a foreign concept, the Chinese government
basically welcomes it. Media education is regarded as useful for cultivating media
sophisticated government officials, ethical media professionals, and high-quality
citizens. This approach is believed to imply a strong sense of media education as
regulation with the aim of pursuing social stability and prosperity.
Yet, apart from holding some media literacy training workshops for government
officials, there are no government measures or special funding schemes to promote
media literacy in society. According to media advocates in China, the absence of
professional development for teachers, the heavy workload under the current school
curricula for students, and a shortage of funds for educational initiatives are all
obstacles to the development of media literacy education at the grassroots level in
China (Wan and Gut 2008). Not many schools in China actually put media literacy
education into practice.
However, in the past few years, more schools have brought media literacy
education into the school curriculum. It is found that most of these media education
programs are initiated by media literacy education advocates in universities. The
most outstanding examples of the university-driven media literacy initiative include
the media literacy education curricula at Beijing Heizhima Hutong Primary School,
the partnership media literacy project in Zhejiang Province, and the media literacy
program in Zhuhai No. 3 Middle School and other schools in Guangdong Province
and Shandong Province. These programs are developed by CUC, ZUMC, and South
China Normal University, respectively. The curricula are designed by the university.
Professors and college students go to the partnership schools to teach media literacy
courses. School teachers at the partnership schools attend classes together with the
students and try to pick up media literacy teaching skills. After a few semesters,
the school teachers are then capable of teaching media literacy education courses
themselves. This unique model of media literacy education is a natural outcome
of media literacy development in China, as media education was introduced and
advocated mostly by academics in the tertiary education sector who had knowledge
of media literacy education.
Teaching and Learning Media Literacy in China: The Uses of Media Literacy Education 15

3 Structuration Theory and the Use of Media Literacy

Most of the literature puts emphasis on the discussion of the definition of and cur-
riculum approaches to media literacy education. There are few discussions about
the use of media literacy and its implementation. This study is interested in finding
out the goals of media literacy advocates and how they can implement their work
under various structural principles.
According to Street (1984, 1993), there are two theoretical approaches to the
social use of literacy. While the autonomous model sees literacy as a technical skill
to be obtained regardless of its social environment, the ideological model claims
that literacy practices are embedded in social interactions and practices (Graff 1987;
Street 1984). Graff argued that the autonomous model just represents the literacy
myth, and Gee (1996) echoed this by saying literacy is usually used by people to
meet their own social goals.
The ideological model is regarded here as more suitable for studying the media
literacy education program in China. As with general literacy, the use of media
literacy most likely relies on the motives of the people who initiate the program. The
notion of media literacy is closely associated with the social institutions in which it
is practiced (Vasquez et al. 2004). This study sees media literacy as a social practice
and argues that its practice is conducted by people who interact with one another in
a specific social system. The media literacy education programs promoted by the
university in Zhejiang are worth studying in order to find out the underlying interac-
tion mechanism.
A study of media-organization media literacy in Hong Kong indicated that the
uses of media literacy education programs are the results of the structuration pro-
cess conducted in the media organization setting (Chu and Lee 2014, p. 127). It
argued that the study of the use of media literacy has to consider both the structural
principles of media organizations and agency effort of media practitioners. This
study also follows Giddens structuration theory, and it pays especially close atten-
tion to the agency role in promoting and practicing media education. Giddens
(1984) proposed that social outcome not only comes from the existence of any form
of control from the social system but also from the acts of the individual actor. The
structuration process of the social practices very often produces certain results.
According to structuration theory, structure refers to rules, regulations, and
resources used by actors (Giddens 1984). Structural principles means the use of
rules and resources to regulate social relations. As to agency, it refers to actors
who are knowledgeable beings and purposive agents in the social system. They are
unique in their motivation, reflexive mind, and rationalization of action. When they
are involved in social practices, they will exercise their practical consciousness to
transform rules and reallocate resources (Turner 1986).
This chapter rejects the structuralist view, which puts too much emphasis on the
totality of the social system. Rather, it adopts Giddens structuration thesis to exam-
ine the role of agency play in the formation of media literacy programs. It will
analyze how agency force (university members, school principals, and teachers)
16 A.Y.L. Lee and W. Tiande

endeavors to launch media literacy education programs in schools under the


influence of the structural force of the state.

4 Methodological Note

For this study, researchers selected the media literacy education programs of the
Zhejiang University of Media and Communications as a representative case of the
university-driven media literacy model. It was chosen for the following reasons:
(1) It is a media literacy education program initiated by the president of the university
and supported by faculty members and students; (2) the program has been institu-
tionalized in the university and operates under two university units; (3) the program
has sustainable development as it started in 2008 and is still running well; (4) the
program has developed systematic lesson plans and curriculum materials (PPTs and
textbooks); and (5) the program has more than four partnership schools, and the
number of trained students has already reached 1300 each year.
This study adopted both qualitative and quantitative approaches. Researchers
conducted in-depth interviews with university and school representatives who had
either initiated or contributed substantially to the development of the project. The
interviews include the president of ZUMC, its faculty members, the leaders of the
Media Literacy Teaching Association, university students who joined the media lit-
eracy volunteer teaching activities, partnership school principals, and schoolteachers.
In total, 27 people were interviewed. Of these, 22 also participated in our expert
survey and filled out our questionnaire. The four partnership schools are Yongkang
Dasixiang Primary School, Jinyun Changkeng Primary School, Hangzhou Xiayan
Middle School, and Jiaxing Xiushui Senior High School. Three student focus group
studies were conducted in the two primary schools and Hangzhou Xiayan Middle
School. In addition, a student survey was carried out in the four partnership schools.
Totally 857 questionnaires were collected.

5 The University-Driven Media Literacy Project in Zhejiang


Province

The Zhejiang media literacy education project was initiated by Professor Peng
Shaojian, president of ZUMC. He set up the Institute of Media Literacy Studies
with the support of his university colleagues in 2007 and launched a media literacy
education project to bring media literacy education to schools (Peng, personal
communication, December 16, 2011). Two primary schools and two secondary
schools in the province were lined up as partnership schools.
Figure 1 shows how the Zhejiang media literacy project operates. The Institute
of Media Studies serves as the headquarters of the project, and its staff are the
Teaching and Learning Media Literacy in China: The Uses of Media Literacy Education 17

Fig. 1 The implementation of the university-driven media literacy project in Zhejiang Province

masterminds behind the design and execution of the whole project. The university
management sought the support of the China Radio and TV Association in Beijing.
The Association was willing to endorse this project. It publishes media literacy
research reports in its periodical, China Radio and TV Academic Journal. It also set
up the Media Literacy Research Base at ZUMC.
In ZUMC, there are many student volunteer groups running extracurricular
activities. One of them is the Media Literacy Volunteer Teaching Association, which
has a close link with the Institute of Media Literacy Studies. The Volunteer Teaching
18 A.Y.L. Lee and W. Tiande

Association is responsible for selecting suitable student volunteers to join the media
literacy project. The Institute then provides guidance and training to recruited stu-
dents. Media literacy lesson plans and curriculum materials are developed with the
collaboration of faculty members and students. The practice of engaging students is
part of the train the trainer strategic plan.
Once training and the curriculum materials are developed, volunteer university
students take turns to go to partnership schools to run media literacy classes.
Through this learning and teaching process, the students themselves gain rich
knowledge of media literacy. Meanwhile, the Institute of Media Literacy Studies
organizes a summer media literacy social practice program every year. University
professors take students to different parts of China to conduct media literacy proj-
ects, such as media literacy surveys of civil servants, media development of remote
villages, and cultural heritage preservation through video making for minority
groups. Through these media literacy volunteer teaching activities and media liter-
acy social practice programs, university students go through the media literacy
experiential learning process. This is the tertiary level of media literacy training.
At the school level, as many school teachers know very little about the media and
media literacy, they attend media literacy education classes together with the
students. Through class participation, the teachers in partnership schools gradually
develop media literacy skills. By using curriculum materials provided by the univer-
sity, some of them can start to teach their own media literacy courses. Later, they
can also develop their own teaching materials. Media literacy education advocates
call this practice training while teaching. It is regarded as the school level of
media literacy training.

6 Agency Efforts to Bring Media Literacy Education


to Schools

As discussed in Giddens theory of structuration, structure and agency interact with


each other. Given that all human action is performed within the context of an
existing social structure that is governed by a set of norms, an individuals action is
inevitably predetermined to a certain extent by contextual rules. However, the struc-
ture and rules are not permanent and external but can be modified by human action
through social processes. Applying the structuration theory to the media literacy
movement in China, it becomes apparent that university-driven media literacy proj-
ects not only aim to achieve the states media literacy goals but also the goals of the
university, schools, and society at large. Agency effort plays an important role in the
development of the media literacy movement.
Teaching and Learning Media Literacy in China: The Uses of Media Literacy Education 19

6.1 Knowledgeable Agents

ZUMC, located in Hangzhou, is a small, specialized university concentrating on


media and communication studies. The universitys faculty members are rich in
media knowledge. The volunteer students all study media-related subjects so they
are also media savvy. With some media literacy training, they are capable of deliver-
ing media literacy courses at schools. School principals and teachers, while not
necessarily media savvy, are interested in media issues and have the opportunity to
be trained as capable media literacy educators through the project.
Giddens (1984) suggested that while we examine the role of agents in social
practice, it is important to evaluate the knowledgeability of the agents. In this case
study, university faculty members, volunteer university students, school principals,
and media literacy school teachers are all capable agents who contribute to the
launching of this university-driven media literacy project.

6.2 Meeting the Goals of the Government

According to structuration theory, actors constantly monitor the social context in


which they take action; media literacy education advocates are fully aware of the
sociopolitical setting they operate in. In China, any educational initiative should
have the endorsement of the government. Media education advocates fully
understand that there is a need to meet the national expectations for media educa-
tion. ZUMCs cooperation with the China Radio and TV Association (an unofficial
organization whose members are media practitioners) shows that the Zhejiang
media education program is in line with the educational goal of the government.
Cultivating media practitioners media literacy is regarded by the government as
one of the tasks of media literacy education. Working together with the Association,
the university management felt that it was legitimate to use its budget to support the
media literacy project. Besides, the projects summer media literacy social practice
program conducts media literacy surveys of civil servants to promote media literacy
training. It also meets the governments goal of enhancing civil servants media
literacy. In addition, in the new media environment, there are concerns about
the social impacts of news media and the Internet on young students, while the
government is also concerned about cultivating good citizens. Training young
people to be media literate matches the interests of the government.
20 A.Y.L. Lee and W. Tiande

6.3 The Universitys Motivations for Launching the Media


Literacy Project

Professor Peng is the major advocate of the ZUMC media literacy project. As a
veteran educator and the head of the university, he is aware of the great socialization
impact of the media, particularly digital media, on the young people. He believes
that it is important to equip university students with media literacy so that they can
wisely make good use of the media and become outstanding graduates of his univer-
sity. Meanwhile, as an academic, he is aware that media literacy education is a
burgeoning discipline in the field of social sciences. It will be beneficial for the
growth of his university if it concentrates on developing research and practice in this
new area. As a small, new university, ZUMC cannot compete with well-established
universities in traditional communication fields such as journalism, advertising,
broadcasting, and new media. Since media literacy education is an uncharted area,
every university is at the same starting point for competing in this field (Peng
Shaojian, personal communication, December 16, 2011). ZUMC faculty members
are encouraged by this view and willing to explore this new academic field by
engaging in its educational practice.
The volunteer university students feel excited about being involved in a
meaningful project. As communication students, they recognize the value of media
literacy education (Liu Yue, personal communication, November 5, 2011). Many of
them consider that by participating in the media literacy project, they are able to
gain valuable media literacy knowledge, which is good for their career develop-
ment. They can also build up leadership skills and achieve better personal
growth (Liao Qianting, personal communication, November 5, 2011; Zhang Zehan,
personal communication, November 5, 2011).
Media literacy advocates at ZUMC launched the media literacy education
program strategically. According to structuration theory, agents need to have practical
consciousness, which refers to understanding of the rules and tactics of social prac-
tice. Findings of this study show that media literacy education advocates at ZUMC
clearly understood the rules of the game and were aware of the shortage of resources.
On the one hand, they need to accommodate the governments expectation on media
literacy education. On the other hand, they understood that although the government
welcomes media literacy education, no funding was provided. They had to launch
the media literacy project on a very limited university budget. Therefore, they linked
up the Institute of Media Literacy Studies with the students volunteer teaching
group. With the support of the students, the project could be run on a very low
budget. The train the trainer strategy is effective. The training while teaching
practice as an indirect method of teacher training also works well.
The summer media literacy social practice programs are also strategically
designed to contribute to the development of the media literacy movement in many
ways: (1) The program cultivates students media literacy skills, writing skills, and
survey skills; (2) it guides students to get in touch with society, integrating theory
with practice; (3) the program brings media literacy education outside Zhejiang
Province, promoting the practice of media literacy education around the country;
Teaching and Learning Media Literacy in China: The Uses of Media Literacy Education 21

and (4) student activities help to bring media literacy education into the community,
so it is no longer limited to the educational arena. In fact, the most important
objective of the summer program is to build up the reputation of ZUMC as a media
literacy education base at national level.

7 Media Literacy Agenda of Schools

The ZUMC helps four schools in Zhejiang Province to build their media literacy
curricula and train their teachers. University students are sent to these schools to
conduct media literacy courses. Although all the programs have been initiated by
the same university, the curricular approaches of the schools are different because
the goals of the schools vary.
School principals were very concerned about the impacts of new media and the
Internet on their students. They hoped media literacy training could help their
students to better understand the media, distinguish quality information from bad
information, and make good use of the media. However, they also expected that the
introduction of media literacy would contribute to the development of their schools.
The findings of our study show that different schools have their own media literacy
education agendas, which significantly affect the ways in which the media literacy
education program is conducted.

7.1 Hangzhou Xiayan Middle School: Building a Reputable


Characteristic School

Hangzhou Xiayan Middle School is a well-known school in Hangzhou City. It has


enthusiastically integrated media literacy education into its formal curriculum. This
school offers both media literacy general education classes and special broadcast
classes and has devoted great effort to establishing itself as a characteristic school
which specializes in media, and media literacy education is regarded as useful in
this regard. In China, characteristic schools refer to those schools with
specializations.
Luo Zhongcheng, the vice principal of the school, stated that it is important to
cultivate students media literacy so that they are able to navigate well in the new
media age. He hoped the media literacy course would not only help his students to
consume media wisely but also guide them to use the media. He pointed out that
bringing media literacy education into his school can strengthen the special course
on media production in order to build up the brand name of the school and improve
student admission. The education authority of Zhejiang Province also recognized
this schools achievement as an outstanding media school and granted it a large sum
of money to construct a media building. In addition, the media literacy education
course also contributes in developing a school culture that is lively, full of diversity,
22 A.Y.L. Lee and W. Tiande

up to date, and media relevant. Media literacy education is helpful in enhancing the
reputation of the school and cultivating high-quality students (Luo Zhongcheng,
personal communication, October 31, 2011; Cheng Xiaoding, personal communi-
cation, October 31, 2011).
Students in the focus group study pointed out that they enjoyed the media liter-
acy education classes because they are useful and interesting. They learned the con-
cepts of movie making, television production, photography, advertising, and other
creative media. Findings of the student survey showed that the media literacy educa-
tion curriculum in this school has contributed to enhancing the 4C skills (critical
thinking, creativity, communication, and collaboration skills) of the students. From
Table 1, we can see that students who took the media literacy course had higher
confidence in their 4C skills. Moreover, about 50 % of students who had attended
media literacy classes said that they knew how films use montage to tell stories,
while only 17.7 % of those who did not take the media literacy education course
agreed that they knew. This indicates that students who joined the media literacy
education program had richer media production knowledge. With its media literacy
education program, Hangzhou Xiayan Middle School has successfully built up its
brand name as a famous media characteristic school.

7.2 Jiaxing Xiushui Senior High School: Seeking Career


Development

Jiaxing Xiushui Senior High School is a private school run by a civic group. Since
it is not a top school, students admitted they do not have very high academic achieve-
ment. In recent years, the school management has been eager to build up itself as a

Table 1 The 4C skills of the students at the Hangzhou Xiayan Middle School
Strongly
Strongly agree Agree Neutral Disagree disagree Total
My critical thinking skill is very good
Yes ML (%) 11.4 46.6 31.8 6.8 3.4 100.0
No ML (%) 5.9 37.3 45.1 7.8 3.9 100.0
I have very good communication skill
Yes ML (%) 11.4 34.1 40.9 10.2 3.4 100.0
No ML (%) 5.9 21.6 54.9 17.6 0.0 100.0
I am a very creative person
Yes ML (%) 11.5 41.4 36.8 8.0 2.3 100.0
No ML (%) 2.0 23.5 52.9 13.7 7.8 100.0
I know well how to cooperate with other people
Yes ML (%) 12.5 43.2 38.6 2.3 3.4 100.0
No ML (%) 7.8 35.3 43.1 7.8 5.9 100.0
Note: Yes ML students who took the media literacy course
No ML students who did not take any media literacy course
Teaching and Learning Media Literacy in China: The Uses of Media Literacy Education 23

characteristic school specializing in arts and media. Unlike the Hangzhou Xiayan
Middle School, this school does not aim at strengthening its brand name. Instead,
the school management hopes to provide some media vocational training for stu-
dents so that they can get a job in the media industry or help them to pursue further
studies in communication colleges. Thus, the media literacy education program is
strategic in helping the school to achieve its goal.
Cai Wenxiang, the vice principal, explained that apart from ordinary academic
training, it is necessary to provide an alternative path for students so that they can
more easily find jobs or enter a college after graduation (Cai Wenxiang, personal
communication, November 1, 2011). Academically speaking, his students are not
competitive. Therefore, they need to acquire special skills. In the past, the school
put a lot of effort into developing its specialized arts program. Since the media sec-
tor has become more and more important, the school wished to expand its arts pro-
gram to include media, so it decided to introduce the media literacy education
program. Wang Jianhong, the principal, pointed out that it is important to educate
young people to be media literate so they can make good use of the media. He hoped
that the media literacy education program can raise students interest in the media
and build up a school culture which is media oriented. He also sent schoolteachers
to ZUMC for further study so that they would be capable of teaching professional
media courses on their own (Wang Jianhong, personal communication, November
1, 2011).
Findings of the student survey indicate that students from this school are particu-
larly interested in media production. Their media literacy education curriculum puts
emphasis on professional media knowledge and skills. More than 55 % of media
literacy students agreed that they can creatively produce media products.

7.3 Yongkang Dasixiang Primary School: Training Future


Leaders

Yongkang Dasixiang Primary School is a top primary school in the region. Most of
the students are children of government officials and civil servants. The objective of
this school is to train high-quality students who can become future leaders. Its
principal, Wang Weixing, is a member of the Chinese Peoples Political Consultative
Committee. Facing the challenge of the information society, Principal Wang regards
it as essential that his students develop the ability to distinguish good media
messages from bad media messages. More important is that students need to master
the constructive use of media so that they can better prepare for future work and life
(Wang Weixing, personal communication, November 3, 2011). In other words,
future leaders have to be media literate.
Apart from rigorous academic training, this school has a special course on psy-
chological consulting. The aim is to cultivate students correct values, EQ, psycho-
logical health, and self-confidence, indicating that the school emphasizes training
24 A.Y.L. Lee and W. Tiande

students psychological capabilities and communication skills. According to Wang,


in the new communication environment, the influence of the media and Internet on
children and young people is great. In recent years, parents and teachers have begun
to be aware of media impact on students and would like them to better handle it.
Moreover, it is important for students to learn how to better use the media in order
to keep up with the times. Introducing media literacy education into the school is
regarded as useful in many ways. First, it can train students to use media wisely.
Second, the media literacy course can be integrated with the psychology course so
that both teachers and students work together to achieve healthy self-development.
Third, the media literacy course can help build a school atmosphere that promotes
constructive media use. In particular, this school hopes the student leaders can
master the skills of newspaper editing and media production.
The media literacy education curriculum of this school puts emphasis on under-
standing different kinds of media, media relationships, rights of privacy, opinion
expression, creative production, and the difference between the virtual world and
real life. The student survey revealed that students who had taken the media literacy
education course said that they had learned how to criticize and appreciate the
media. Only 12 % of them expressed that they could not correctly use the media for
doing meaningful things, and 18 % of them said that they were unable to apply what
they had learned from the media to their everyday lives. In the focus group study,
students expressed that they had learned how to evaluate media messages and how
to better communicate in public. The media literacy education program seems to be
helpful in cultivating confident and smart students in this school.

7.4 Jinyun Changkeng Primary School: Cultivating Ethical


Citizens

Jinyun Changkeng Primary School is a rural school. Most of its students are the
children of peasants. Although this is not an elite school like Yongkang Dasixiang
Primary School, it is an award-winning school for excellent moral education. The
media literacy education program here is integrated with moral education.
For Liu Yongwu, the principal, learning how to become a good person comes
before acquiring academic knowledge. In the past, this school paid great attention
to arts education since this subject helped to shape the personalities of students. In
recent years, it found that the mass media and new media exercise great influence
on students value judgments. Moreover, the large amount of information coming
from the media is much more influential than what is taught by teachers. In light of
this, Liu decided to include media literacy education in his schools curriculum.
Moral education is the strength of this school. From the school managements per-
spective, using media literacy training to further develop moral education is good
for the school and good for the students (Liu Yongwu, personal communication,
November 4, 2014).
Teaching and Learning Media Literacy in China: The Uses of Media Literacy Education 25

The education authority has praised this school as the National Advanced
Institution in Moral Education. Therefore, the school has to keep up its good repu-
tation for moral education while keeping abreast of the times. Introducing media
literacy education can benefit the schools future development of moral education.
Liu emphasized that all skills and knowledge should serve social practice.
Students should apply what they have learned from the media to their everyday
lives. The media literacy education curriculum of this school puts great effort into
teaching rural students how to make good use of different media; cultivating stu-
dents moral virtue is a major goal of the media literacy education program. From
the student survey findings, students who have taken the media literacy education
course are more knowledgeable than other students about media characteristics.
Only 10 % of the students said that they were not familiar with the unique charac-
teristics of various media, and only 24 % of students said they did not know what
media ethics are. In the student focus group, a girl said the most attractive part of
course is to understand public service advertising. She said learning how to do
something good for society is important, and she wanted to be a better person. Thus,
media literacy is considered helpful in further strengthening the moral education
agenda (Liu Yongwu, personal communication, November 4, 2011).
The above analysis shows that the four schools basically adopted a utilitarian
approach to introduce media literacy education in their school curricula. Although
ZUMC developed a set of media literacy curriculum material for these four schools
reference, the schools have a different emphasis on the use of this material according
to their particular media literacy education mission. School principals are important
agents for shaping media literacy education program, and they are strongly motivated
by the development needs of their own schools.

8 Nurturing Ethical Media Users

Although different stakeholders have different agendas, our expert survey shows
that all the interviewees expressed their concern with the new digital media environ-
ment and regard media literacy as a life skill. Thus, they were asked to evaluate what
kind of media and information literacy competencies citizens need in the Internet
age. According to UNESCO, competencies in media and information literacy can
be divided into three categories: (1) access media and information and be aware of
its impact; (2) understand the media and develop analytical skills; and (3) use the
media wisely and communicate well. The findings of this study are also analyzed
according to this framework (see Table 2).
The results show that media literacy education advocates and media literacy
education practitioners emphasize greatly the use of the media and communication
capability. They particularly stress the ethical use of the media. The second impor-
tant category refers to the young peoples ability of accessing information and their
awareness of the influence of the media on individuals and society. The last category
is the critical understanding and analysis of the media. Creative express with the
26 A.Y.L. Lee and W. Tiande

Table 2 Expert ranking on the importance of young peoples media and information Literacy
Competencies in the Internet age
Marks
Media and information literacy competencies Functions of the competencies (out of 7)
Ethical use of media and information Use/communicate 6.64
Understands the world through the media Use/communicate 6.18
Effectively and safely uses various communication Use/communicate 6.18
means (e.g., telephone, blog, social media)
to communicate with other people and share
information
Applies what has been learned from the media Use/communicate 6.14
to everyday life
Searches effectively and efficiently for useful Access/awareness 6.09
media messages and information
Recognizes the effect of the media and Access/awareness 6.05
information on individuals and society
Critically analyzes and evaluates the content Analysis/understanding 6.05
of media messages and information
Understands how to select, organize, and Analysis/understanding 5.86
synthesize media messages and information
Understands how different format of the media Analysis/understanding 5.64
(e.g., newspaper, radio, TV, Internet) will present
an issue or event in a different way
Monitors media and information content and urges Use/communicate 5.59
improvement
Understands the nature, functions, and operation Analysis/understanding 5.5
of media and information institutions (e.g.,
Peoples Daily, CNN, Google, Baidu, Wikipedia)
Appreciates media and information content and Use/communicate 5.18
format in an aesthetic way
Uses various tools for the creation and aesthetic Use/communicate 4.77
presentation of media and information in a variety
of formats

media is generally regarded as less important. On the whole, the research findings
illustrate that the major curriculum objective of the media literacy project is to guide
students to make good use of the media. Critical analysis and creative expression
are less emphasized.

9 Conclusion and Discussion

In the context of mainland China, university members are at the forefront of media
literacy education, being the most knowledgeable group in the field and also being
enthusiastic in launching the media literacy education movement. Their active pro-
motion of media literacy education in schools and communities helped media
Teaching and Learning Media Literacy in China: The Uses of Media Literacy Education 27

literacy education get a stronger foothold in Chinese society. With the support of the
universities, more schools are now able to set up a school-based media literacy
curriculum.
Our case study indicates that the university-driven media literacy model has a
number of characteristics: (1) The project is initiated and led by academics; (2)
partnership schools are lined up and form a media literacy community; (3) the
media literacy curriculum is originally designed by university members but is later
redeveloped by individual schoolteachers to fit their schools particular needs; (4) as
most schoolteachers do not have media literacy knowledge, professors and univer-
sity students travel to schools to teach media literacy courses in the initial stage but
turn the courses back to the teachers in the later stage; (5) there is no direct teacher
training, but the school teachers learn media literacy teaching skills through attend-
ing media literacy classes; (6) the program aims at two levels of media literacy
training: one for university students who serve as volunteer teachers, while the other
is for teachers and students in local schools; and (7) the media literacy project is run
on a voluntary basis at low cost.
In-depth examination of the implementation of the university-driven media
literacy project in Zhejiang Province shows that it is actually the outcome of the
agency effort of the university members and school principals under the structural
regulation of the sociopolitical situation in China. From the states perspective,
nurturing good citizens, training media sophisticated government officials, and
cultivating ethical media practitioners are the goals of media literacy education.
Media literacy education is for social stability and prosperity. As to the media
advocates and the media literacy practitioners in this project, they have their own
agendas and put more emphasis on school development and students personal
growth. Yet at the same time, the media literacy advocates also tried their best to
meet governments media literacy education expectation. As our findings reveal, in
China, media literacy education is apolitical. The media literacy education program
very often puts emphasis on the constructive utilization of the media and ethical use
of information. Critical analysis is not a major focus.
The social use of media literacy education has many facets. From this study, we
can see that the social use of media literacy is the result of compromise among
major stakeholders. It is the outcome of the structuration process. Nevertheless, the
Zhejiang media literacy education case shows that with rigorous agency effort, it is
possible to initiate the media literacy project in the province and keep it running in
a diversified way.

Appendix 1: List of Cited Interviewees

Cai Wenxiang
Vice Principal, Jiaxing Xiushui Senior High School
Cheng Xiaoding
Media Literacy Education Teacher, Hangzhou Xiayan Middle School
28 A.Y.L. Lee and W. Tiande

Liao Qianting
University Student, Zhejiang University of Media and Communications (ZUMC)
Member, Media Literacy Volunteer Teaching Association
Liu Yongwu
Principal, Jinyun Changkeng Primary School
Liu Yue
University Student, ZUMC
Vice Chairperson, Media Literacy Volunteer Teaching Association
Luo Zhongcheng
Vice Principal, Hangzhou Xiayan Middle School
Peng Shaojian
President, ZUMC
Wang, Jianhong
Principal, Jiaxing Xiushui Senior High School
Wang Weixing
Principal, Yongkang Dasixiang Primary School
Zhang Zehan
University Student, ZUMC
Chairman, Media Literacy Volunteer Teaching Association

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Bringing Media Literacy Education into
the School Curriculum: A Trilevel Adoption
of Innovation Model

Alice Y.L. Lee, C.K. Cheung, and Meily Cheung

Abstract This study views media literacy education as an educational innovation


and examines what factors affect the adoption of media education in secondary
schools in Hong Kong. Diffusion of innovations and the sociology of consumer
behavior constitute the theoretical foundation of this study. Findings indicate that
although teachers are important agents in the adoption of a media literacy education
initiative, they are also under school resource constraints and affected by the social
climate of education reform. This study further develops the theory of diffusion of
innovations by adding the societal factor into the traditional model. It proposes a
holistic innovation adoption model in which individual, organizational, and societal
factors all contribute to the adoption of media literacy education in Hong Kong
schools.

Keywords Secondary schools Hong Kong Innovation model Diffusion model

1 Introduction

Media literacy education has been a well-developed field in Western countries for
many years, but in Hong Kong, it only emerged after the handover of sovereignty to
China in 1997 (Lee 2003a). Over the years, media literacy education in Hong Kong
has been conducted outside the official curriculum. However, the recent education
reform and subsequent curriculum changes have provided an excellent opportunity

A.Y.L. Lee (*)


Department of Journalism, School of Communication, Hong Kong Baptist University,
Room 1025, 10/F, Communication and Visual Arts Building 5 Hereford Road, Kowloon,
Hong Kong
e-mail: alicelee@hkbu.edu.hk
C.K. Cheung
Faculty of Education, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong
e-mail: cheungck@hku.hk
M. Cheung
School of Communication, Hang Seng Management College, Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2016 31


C.K. Cheung, Media Literacy Education in China,
DOI 10.1007/978-981-10-0045-4_3
32 A.Y.L. Lee et al.

for media literacy education to penetrate into the official curriculum (Cheung
2009a). This study investigates the adoption of media literacy education in second-
ary schools in Hong Kong.
Education reform and related curriculum change are usually regarded as golden
opportunities for an education initiative to be introduced into the school curriculum.
In the recent education reform in Hong Kong, a new core secondary school subject
called Liberal Studies (LS) was launched in which the study of media was listed
as an elective. Yet, it is still up to individual teachers and schools to decide whether
they would like to teach it.
The mechanism which influences the adoption of an educational innovation in
schools is an issue of interest to many education scholars and practitioners. In Hong
Kong, media literacy education advocates are particularly interested in finding ways
to encourage wider adoption of media literacy education in Liberal Studies (Cheung
2009b). The purpose of this study is to examine the individual factors (teachers),
organizational factors (schools), and societal factors (educational environment) which
affect the adoption of media literacy education in local secondary schools.

2 Education Reform, Liberal Studies, and Media Literacy


Education

The twenty-first century will be the epoch of the knowledge society, and the Hong
Kong government is fully aware that successful transition to a knowledge-based
economy requires the restructuring of its education system. In 2000, the Hong Kong
SAR government published two documents, namely, Review of the Education
System: Reform Proposals (Education Commission 2000) and Learning to Learn:
The Way Forward in Curriculum Development (Curriculum Development Council
2000), to launch the reforms. The aim of the reforms is to increase the quality of
education, develop all-round students, and lay the foundations for lifelong learning
(Chan 2000a, b). The traditional Hong Kong school curriculum has been widely
described as a spoon-feeding model, which allows little room for creativity and
critical thinking. The proposed reform, with its focus on student-centered learning,
puts the emphasis on learning how to learn and is an attempt to improve Hong
Kongs human resources by cultivating future knowledge workers. Media literacy
education is basically a student-oriented subject, and local research has demon-
strated that it is helpful in cultivating the nine generic skills needed in a knowledge
society (Lee and Mok 2005). Its key elements, such as media awareness, critical
thinking skills, creative expression, and information technology skills, fit the
demands of the new age. Local educators are beginning to pay attention to media
literacy education because it matches the spirit of the reform (Yiu 2001).
In line with the education reform initiation, in 2005, the Education Bureau
(EDB) stated in its report that the senior secondary school structure would be
changed from 4 to 3 years. The Bureau also proposed the inclusion of Liberal
Studies as a core subject in the senior secondary school curriculum starting from
Bringing Media Literacy Education into the School Curriculum: A Trilevel Adoption 33

2009, with the aim of broadening students knowledge base and enhancing their
social awareness (CDC 2005).
During the consultation period for this new core subject, media literacy education
advocates in Hong Kong lobbied the EDB hard for media literacy education to be
included in Liberal Studies as one of the compulsory modules. The Hong Kong
Association of Media Education (HKAME 2005) took the lead by submitting a
brief to the government calling for the inclusion of media education in the LS
curriculum. Although the lobby failed to have media literacy education mandated as
a compulsory section of the subject, it succeeded in having media included as an
elective part of the LS curriculum.
In the LS curriculum, all students are required to conduct an Independent Enquiry
Study (IES) which aims at providing an opportunity for students to learn to become
self-directed learners. Six themes were put forward for students to develop their IES
titles, and media was one of the elective themes (CDC 2007). However, although
media is expected to be a popular theme, there is still no guarantee that this will
be chosen. Therefore, media literacy education advocates are seeking ways to
encourage teachers to adopt the media themes.
Moreover, LS adopts an issue-enquiry approach, and students are expected to use
the media extensively to conduct research and inquiries. Since media messages
contain ideologies and values, a critical understanding of the media becomes
extremely important. Students need to master the skills of critically selecting and
analyzing media messages; otherwise, they will be easily misled by the media
instead of gaining useful information, knowledge, and viewpoints through the
media. In the view of media educators, wise use of the media can certainly facilitate
learning in the subject of LS, and so they advocate that media literacy training
should be the prerequisite of LS.

3 Studies on the Adoption of Educational Innovation

This study views media literacy education as an educational innovation and tries to
identify the factors predicting the adoption of media literacy education in schools in
Hong Kong in the social context of education reform. An innovation is commonly
defined as an idea, practice, or object that is perceived as new by an individual or
other unit of adoption (Rogers 1995: 11). An innovation is also expected to create
a new dimension of performance, meaning a positive change resulting in new
products, services, or processes (Drucker 1985). Therefore, newness and improved
outcome are the features of an innovation. In this respect, media literacy education
in Hong Kong can be regarded as an educational innovation for the following
reasons: (1) Media literacy education is new to local teachers and students, and it
treats media as a subject matter for study; (2) Its pedagogy is student-centered and
it encourages self-discovery learning. It is quite different from the traditional top-
down teaching mode, but in line with the spirit of education reform; and (3) it helps
students to develop critical thinking and creative skills which match the need of the
rapidly changing society.
34 A.Y.L. Lee et al.

The theory of diffusion of innovations developed by Rogers is widely used to


examine the adoption of innovation (McQuail and Windahl 1993). Many profes-
sionals from different sectors are using this theory in the hope of increasing the
implementation and utilization of innovative products or practices. This study also
applies this theory to investigate the adoption of a media literacy education initia-
tive. Rogers (2003) defines diffusion as the process in which an innovation is com-
municated through certain channels over time among the members of a social
system. Diffusion study has a wide range of aspects, but this study only focuses on
the innovation-decision process. For Rogers (2003: 168), the innovation-decision
process is the process through which an individual (or other decision-making unit)
passes from gaining initial knowledge of an innovation, to forming an attitude
toward the innovation, to making a decision to adopt or reject, to implementation of
the new idea, and to confirmation of this decision. In this process, an individual or
a unit evaluates a new idea and decides whether or not to incorporate the innovation
into current practice. The model of the innovation-decision process consists of five
stages: knowledge, persuasion, decision, implementation, and confirmation.
There have been a number of diffusion studies in education. Early researchers in
educational diffusion concentrated on the innovativeness of education initiatives
and their rate of adoption (Rogers 1995), while later research projects have focused
on the diffusion of instructional technologies. As an example, the study of Bussey
et al. (2000) identifies the factors predicting the adoption of technology education
in New Mexico public schools based on Rogers framework. These factors include
perceptions of the attributes of technology and the influence of change agents and
opinion leaders on adoption. Groves and Zemel (2000) study the adoption of
instructional technology in higher education and find that perceived advantages and
cost and personal comfort are important predicting factors. Surry and Farguhar
(1997) also study the diffusion of instructional technology and argue that the
technological view (instrumentalism or determinism) of educators plays an impor-
tant role in its adoption. These studies share the common characteristic of putting
emphasis on individual variables, but they neglect possible institutional factors.
In fact, previous literature indicates that most of the early diffusion studies
emphasize individual variables and fail to provide a holistic view of the innovation-
decision process. Later on, social system variables (organizational variables)
are added. The items included are social system norms, tolerance of deviancy, and
communication integration (Rogers and Shoemaker 1971). The social system refers
to the bounded community in which the innovation diffuses (Rogers 1995), which
can mean a group or an institution.
In studying educational innovation, Rogers (1995) particularly highlights the
importance of the organizational factor for educational diffusion: teachers work in
organizations and have to face institutional constraints. He points out that organiza-
tions are involved in one way or another in the adoption of educational innovations.
For example, while US farmers can make optional innovation decisions, most teachers
and school administrators are involved in collective or authority innovation decision.
With the organizational factor in mind, Dooley (1999 ) examines the diffusion
of computer technologies in schools. She compares the relative importance of
Bringing Media Literacy Education into the School Curriculum: A Trilevel Adoption 35

individual variables and organizational variables in affecting the adoption decision


of teachers and examines how individuals make their choices of adoption in different
organizational contexts. The present study follows this line of analysis and exam-
ines the media literacy education innovation-decision process from both individual
and organizational perspectives. Yet, there is still a missing piece in the analytical
framework. Current innovation studies have paid little attention to the social context
in which the adoption of an innovation takes place. In order to fill this theoretical
gap, this study brings in the societal variable to form a more holistic model of media
literacy education adoption in schools.
Wallendorf and Zaltman (1984) study consumer behavior from a sociological
perspective and their work provides insights into the modification of the current
adoption model. For them, the buying decision is not only the outcome of a personal
choice but also the result of group dynamics or even societal influence. Their
sociology of consumption examines consumer behavior from three different levels.
First, they look at the personality of the consumers, their needs and motivations, and
their buying attitudes. Then they investigate group norms and roles in consumer
behavior as well as family and organizational consumption patterns. One step fur-
ther, they also examine the societal bases of consumer behavior, asking research
questions such as: Do changes in cultural values lead to increasing briefness of
womens swimwear? Wallendorf and Zaltman point out that consumers live in
larger social systems, and consumption activities may be guided by institutional
norms that are bounded by cultural values. Under some circumstances, cultural
values can even guide some consumption activities directly rather than through
intervening social mechanisms. In sum, social climate has a close relationship with
consumer behavior (Zaltman and Wallendorf 1983). This study applies the idea of
sociology of consumption to examine the adoption of media literacy education from
all three levels and argues that the adoption of media literacy education in school
is a mixed outcome of individual, school, and societal factors. It is a three-tier
adoption decision-making mechanism.
Regarding individual factors, this study examines a number of variables including
secondary schoolteachers demographic characteristics, their teaching attitudes, and
their perception of the functions of media literacy education. Rogers (1995) believes
that the potential adopters perception of the attributes of an innovation affects its
rate of adoption. Findings of the study on adoption of instructional technology
conducted by Surry and Farquhar (1997) also show that users perceptions of the
role of technology in school influence the adoption outcome. Therefore, this study
pays special attention to the teachers perceptions of the use of media literacy
education. Besides, media literacy education is expected to bring in changes not
only at the curriculum level but also at the pedagogical level. Teachers constructive
teaching attitudes may affect their tendency to adopt media literacy education. Thus,
this study will examine whether a reflective teaching attitude may play a role in the
adoption process.
Since the publication of Schons (1983) book, The Reflective Practitioner, reflec-
tion has come to be widely recognized as an important element in the professional
growth of teachers (Heng and Khim 2004). Reflective teaching aims at enabling
36 A.Y.L. Lee et al.

teachers to analyze, discuss, evaluate, and change their own practice. It encourages
teachers to take greater responsibility for their own professional growth and to
acquire some degree of professional autonomy. It also facilitates teachers develop-
ment of their own theories of educational practice (Calderhead and Gates 1993).
Reflective teachers have a greater tendency to adopt an analytical approach toward
teaching (Cole and Knowles 2000) and are expected to pay greater attention to the
social and political contexts in which they work. Since reflective teaching empowers
teachers to take a more active role in educational decision-making, it is highly
relevant to the adoption of an educational innovation like media literacy education.
Referring to the organization level, this study examines the innovativeness of the
school, the existence of related media literacy education activities, the workload of
the teachers, and school support for the implementation of media education. With
respect to the last factor, McLaughlin (1990) suggests that teachers may decide not
to adopt an innovation because the school setting is not so supportive. A number of
previous studies also show that lack of support from the administrative staff, school
principal, and peers becomes an obstacle to getting teachers involved in introducing
change (Fullan 1991; Ornstein and Hunkins 1993).
As for societal factors, this study investigates the educational and media environ-
ment of Hong Kong society. From 2000 onward, the education reform has domi-
nated the educational scene, and the teaching of LS will soon become a reality for
many teachers. Meanwhile, the media environment of Hong Kong society has been
deteriorating (Lee 2007), and the social climate is expected to exercise a certain
influence on the adoption of media literacy education in Hong Kong.
Theoretically, this study aims at further developing the theory of diffusion of
innovations by adding the societal factor into the current model. It proposes a holistic
innovation adoption model, in which individual, organizational, and societal factors
all contribute to the adoption of media literacy education in Hong Kong schools. In
practice, this study identifies the important factors predicting the adoption of media
literacy education so that advocates can develop better strategies to promote wider
adoption of media literacy education in the new school subject of LS.
Since 1997, media literacy education has been gradually developing in Hong
Kong (Cheung 2004, 2009c). Compared with other Asian countries, Hong Kong is
unique in its development of media literacy education. In countries and regions such
as Japan, Taiwan, and the Philippines, media literacy education is advocated by one
or two enthusiastic organizations and its development pattern resembles a spoke
wheel, in the sense that media literacy education programs are generated and pro-
moted by a powerful center. In contrast, however, media literacy education in Hong
Kong is a multi-source voluntary grassroots movement, which expands more like a
network. In Hong Kong, media literacy education initiatives come from different
sectors of society. Institutions that are interested in promoting media education
include youth organizations, religious organizations, media professional groups,
schools, social welfare organizations, government departments, and media
organizations. All the interested organizations interact with each other and have
formed an informal network (a net) of media education. Thus, the development of
media literacy education in Hong Kong takes the form of what is called a network-
Bringing Media Literacy Education into the School Curriculum: A Trilevel Adoption 37

ing pattern (Lee 2002, 2003b). Since media literacy education provided by various
institutions for young people in Hong Kong is outside the official curriculum, it is
piecemeal in nature and fails to provide continued and comprehensive media literacy
training. Advocates in Hong Kong would like to take the opportunity of education
reform to bring media literacy education into the school system so that all young
people could acquire media literacy in a more systematic way.

4 Methodological Note

This study was conducted through a territory-wide survey among secondary school-
teachers in Hong Kong, most of whom are likely to teach LS in the coming years.
About 600 questionnaires were sent out, and 471 were successfully collected. The
return rate was around 78.5 %. The survey respondents were from schools of all
bandings (bands 1, 2, and 3). Band 1 schools refer to schools whose students have
the best academic performance, while band 3 schools have students with the lowest
academic achievement. The respondents were from schools located in different
districts. In Hong Kong, the quality of the schools varies and this is related to the
different districts in which they are located.

5 Schoolteachers Adoption of Media Literacy Education


in Hong Kong

In the survey of secondary schoolteachers, 40.8 % of the respondents said that they
did not have much knowledge about media and information education, and so they
did not have the confidence to teach it well. Yet another 28 % said that they thought
they understood media education and had the confidence to do it properly. In fact,
29.8 % said that they had already tried to conduct some kind of media education
activities in their schools. The mixed feedback shows that in the mid-2000s, media
education has found its way into the school system in a small-scale and informal
way. However, its further penetration needs to be strengthened.
In fact, many teachers have already heard of media education. Our survey
indicates that there are multiple communication channels for the diffusion of media
literacy education knowledge among schoolteachers in Hong Kong: about half (50.4
%) of the respondents had learned about media literacy education and obtained
related information through various education profession channels, 49.8 % had
obtained information about the innovation from the mass media, and 40 % of them
had obtained it through personal channels. This means that in the past few years,
professional training workshops organized by various media education organiza-
tions have been able to pass media literacy education message to the teachers. The
mass media have also played a promotional role.
38 A.Y.L. Lee et al.

In the questionnaire, two key statements were put forward to test teachers
willingness to adopt media literacy education. The first statement was: I am willing
to adopt media literacy education in LS in order to enhance students media liter-
acy. The second one was: Even though my school does not adopt media literacy
education as a formal curriculum, I will try to provide some media literacy training
for my students. In response to the first statement, 70.6 % of the teachers expressed
that they were willing to teach media literacy education. For the second statement,
54.3 % of the teachers said that they would try to teach media literacy education on
their own even though their schools had not formally launched a media literacy
education program. The latter represent the highly motivated teachers. Tables 1 and
2 identify the factors which influence teachers adoption of media literacy education
and also show the difference between the generally willing group and the keenly
willing group.
Table 1 illustrates the factors predicting the willingness to conduct media literacy
education. In this table, we can see that a number of variables at the individual,
organizational, and societal levels are significantly correlated with willingness to
adopt media literacy education. This supports our holistic analytical framework that
many factors at various levels together contribute to the adoption of the media lit-
eracy education innovation in Hong Kong schools.
Table 2 shows the stepwise regression analysis results for willingness to conduct
media literacy education. The analysis aims at identifying the most important pre-
dicting variables. Among all the variables, understanding media literacy education is
the most important predictor in the generally willing group and is also ranked fourth
in the keenly willing group. Understanding media literacy education involves a num-
ber of factors including: (1) media literacy education can help cultivate in students
nine generic skills; (2) media literacy education can help students discriminate nega-
tive media messages; (3) media literacy education guides students to enjoy the fun of
the media; (4) media literacy education can teach students to analyze media mes-
sages and discover their underlying values; (5) media literacy education can enhance
students civil consciousness; and (6) media literacy education is close to liberal
studies in terms of objectives and pedagogy. These results clearly indicate that if a
teacher better understands the functions and advantages of media education, he/she
will have a greater tendency to adopt media literacy education in his/her teaching.
Apart from understanding media literacy education, Table 2 also shows that the
following are significant predictors for ordinary teachers to adopt media education:
seeing the benefit of media literacy education for teaching Liberal Studies
(beta = .177), teaching in an innovative school (beta = .173), gaining support from
the school (beta = .152), school banding (beta = .142), enjoying participating in
campus radio/TV (beta = .125), and teaching experience (beta = .106).
For those highly motivated teachers (keenly willing group), contributing factors
to the promotion of media literacy education in their classrooms are having a
reflective teaching attitude (beta = .231), school support (beta = .178), understanding
media literacy education (beta = .152), having time to do media literacy education
(beta = .167), and seeing the benefit of media literacy education for teaching
Liberal Studies (beta = .139).
Bringing Media Literacy Education into the School Curriculum: A Trilevel Adoption 39

Table 1 Variables predicting willingness to promote media literacy education


Willingness to do Will try even without schools
ME formal curriculum
Predictor variable Cramers V Cramers V
Individual level:
Understanding media literacy education .322 *** .266 ***
Reflective teaching .210 *** .226 ***
Media hobby: campus radio/TV .192 *** .162 ***
Media hobby: film .153 *** .069 (ns)
Media hobby: magazine .130 ** .105 *
Media hobby: music .089 (ns) .105 *
Media hobby: video .115 * .079 (ns)
Sex .117 * .024 (ns)
Year of teaching .109 * .088 (ns)
Major subject taught .154 * .076 (ns)
Organizational level:
No school support .236 *** .298 ***
No time to do media literacy education .211 *** .163 ***
Innovativeness of school .129 ** .097 (ns)
Media literacy education activities in .044 (ns) .044 (ns)
school
Banding .118 (ns) .141 *
Societal level:
Understanding Liberal Studies .258 *** .181 ***
Liberal Studies ability .206 *** .212 ***
Benefit to Liberal Studies .230 *** .174 ***
Media environment (self-perception) .123 ** .093 (ns)
Media environment (colleagues .100 (ns) .110 *
perception)
Media environment (overall) .090 (ns) .108 *
Usefulness in media literacy education .330 *** .267 ***
(Understanding media literacy education + benefit to Liberal Studies)
Note: *p < .05, **p < .01, ***p < .001

6 Reflective Teachers and the Adoption of Media Literacy


Education

From Table 1, we can see that at the individual level, the most important predicting
variables for adopting media literacy education are understanding media literacy
education (CV = .322), reflective teaching (CV = .210), and participation in campus
radio/TV (CV = .192). We have already discussed the importance of understanding
media literacy education. Now we look at the next important predictor, the reflective
40 A.Y.L. Lee et al.

Table 2 Stepwise regression analysis of willingness to do media education


Stepwise regression Beta t value Significance
Willingness to do media education:
Understanding media literacy education .312 5.545 ***
Benefit to Liberal Studies .177 3.275 **
Innovativeness of school .173 3.215 **
No school support .152 2.863 **
Banding .142 2.671 **
Love to do campus radio/TV .125 2.340 *
Experience in teaching .106 1.982 *
Will try even without schools formal curriculum:
Reflective teaching .213 3.683 ***
No school support .178 3.072 **
No time to media literacy education .167 2.818 **
Understanding media literacy education .152 2.559 *
Benefit to Liberal Studies .139 2.446 *
Note: *p < .05, **p < .01, ***p < .001

teaching variable. This study finds that teachers with a reflective teaching attitude
have a greater tendency to adopt media literacy education.
In this study, teachers with a reflective teaching attitude share the following char-
acteristics: (1) They always analyze, criticize, and reflect on their teaching methods.
(2) They always think hard about how the social, political, and cultural environment
of Hong Kong society affect their teaching. (3) They always participate in courses
and talks which can enhance their teaching performance. (4) They actively develop
their own educational philosophy and unique teaching style. (5) They like to adopt
new ways for teaching. (6) They are very eager to learn various kind of new ideas
and things. (7) If the curriculum instructions do not fit their teaching philosophy,
they will voice their opinions. Apparently, reflective teachers are active and critical;
they like innovations and are willing to become change agents. Therefore, it is quite
natural for reflective teachers to adopt media literacy education, which is nontradi-
tional, at both the curriculum and the pedagogic level. Reflective teachers are
certainly early adopters of media literacy education. For the keenly willing group in
this study, reflective teaching has an even higher correlation (CV = .226) with
adoption of media literacy education. This means that reflective teachers are more
willing to try out media literacy education even if their schools have not adopted it
formally. In Table 2, we can see that for the keenly willing group, reflective teaching
is highly correlated with adoption of media literacy education.
Teachers media use seems to have no strong association with the adoption
behavior. Nevertheless, in terms of media as a hobby, it was found that teachers who
were interested in participating in campus radio and television had a greater ten-
dency to adopt media education. Teachers who enjoyed watching films and videos
and reading magazines were also more enthusiastic adopters. Teachers demo-
graphic characteristics had no strong correlation with the adoption of media literacy
education. However, data showed that male teachers were slightly more willing than
Bringing Media Literacy Education into the School Curriculum: A Trilevel Adoption 41

female teachers to adopt the media literacy education innovation, while younger
teachers were somewhat more likely than older teachers to do so. English teachers
were more willing than mathematics teachers to teach media literacy education.
Teachers are organizational persons. Many educational decisions are actually
made at the institutional level. As Rogers (1995) has pointed out, the adoption of
educational innovations in schools usually involves collective or authority innova-
tion decisions. Therefore, it is worthwhile studying what organizational factors can
influence a teachers adoption of media literacy education. It was expected that
teachers in schools with existing media education activities such as media produc-
tion might have a greater chance of adopting media literacy education. Contrary to
our expectations, the association was not statistically significant. However, the inno-
vativeness of the schools did have a significant impact on the adoption of media
literacy education. School innovativeness is defined as the willingness of a school to
promote critical thinking and introduce new curriculum and new teaching methods.
Findings also showed that teachers teaching in band 1 school were more likely to
introduce media literacy education than those working in band 2 and band 3 schools.
In fact, two very significant organizational variables affecting the adoption of
media literacy education were found to be school support and school workload (see
Table 1). According to the teachers, school support means financial resources,
teacher training mechanism, and provision of teaching materials. In our teacher
survey, 46.2 % of the respondents agreed that if there were no school support, they
would not consider conducting media education in their schools at all. Only 24.5 %
of the respondents disagreed. The other significant organizational variable was the
teachers workload. About 60 % of the respondents agreed that if they introduced
media literacy education, they would worry that they would not have enough time
to do their routine teaching work. Therefore, heavy workload and teaching time slot
arrangements are major concerns for teachers in their decision whether to adopt
media literacy education. Media curriculum has to be updated frequently and media
teachers need a lot of time to do the preparation work.

7 The Social Context of the Adoption of Media Literacy


Education Innovation

Studies on diffusion of innovations have long neglected the social context in which
an innovation is adopted. When an adoption takes place, it actually happens within
a particular context, and therefore, it is worthwhile examining how the social cli-
mate influences an adoption decision. For example, the social climate of a society,
that is, whether there is high or low concern for environmental protection, may
influence the inclusion of environmental studies in the school curriculum.
This study investigates the social background of the adoption of media literacy
education in Hong Kong and identifies two possible societal predictors: the intro-
duction of LS as part of the education reform and the deterioration of the media
environment. Survey results indicate that LS is related to the adoption of media
42 A.Y.L. Lee et al.

literacy education. In Table 1, variables like understanding LS (CV = .258), LS


ability (CV = .206), and benefit to LS (CV = .230) are all significant factors.
According to the EDB, by 2009 all secondary schools will introduce the new
subject Liberal Studies in their senior forms, and it is estimated that 1,700 school-
teachers will be engaged in teaching this new subject. Although the new subject is
only mandated in the senior secondary curriculum, many schools are also launching
LS in their junior forms in order to let their students get used to this subject earlier.
In this case, the number of teachers involved in teaching LS will be much higher
than the official estimate. Many teachers who are currently teaching history, geog-
raphy, economics, and other school subjects will be transformed into LS teachers.
Under the educational environment of education reform, introducing LS will
become a reality for every secondary school; teachers have to prepare well for the
new challenge, and many of them are already taking relevant professional develop-
ment courses.
Media literacy education is closely associated with LS in many ways. First,
media will be an elective component of LS. Second, many students are already
engaged in LS through newspapers and other media, and media literacy is important
for LS learners. Third, the objective and pedagogy of media education are similar to
those of LS. For example, while critical thinking skills and issue inquiry skills are
essential to LS, they are also core concepts in media literacy education.
This study finds that the teachers who endorse the idea of education reform,
understand LS well, and are able to master the skills of LS are more likely to adopt
media education. Particularly if they see the contribution of media literacy to the
study of LS, they are more willing to adopt media literacy education. Here, benefit
to LS means that media literacy is a prerequisite of studying LS. Without media
literacy, students may study LS in the wrong way as they may be misled by mass
media messages. Apparently, the education reform and the inclusion of LS in the
school curriculum constitute an educational environment that has a significant
impact on the teachers adoption of media literacy education.
Moreover, the media environment also plays a role. Although its correlation with
the adoption of media education is not very high, it is still one of the social factors
significantly predicting the adoption of media literacy education. In our survey, 96
% of the respondents thought that the media were an important social force, while
95.5 % considered that students personal growth was greatly influenced by the
media. In addition, 83.5 % of them even disagreed that the media environment of
Hong Kong had not deteriorated. Schoolteachers are in fact very concerned about
building a healthier media environment for their students.

8 Conclusion

The diffusion of innovations is a research tradition which has a strong foothold in


communication studies. Many researchers in the field of education have applied the
theory to examine the adoption of educational innovations. However, previous
Bringing Media Literacy Education into the School Curriculum: A Trilevel Adoption 43

studies put too much emphasis on teachers personal characteristics and school
constraints while ignoring the social context of the adoption. This study shows that
the adoption of an educational innovation is in fact a complicated process, which
involves individual, organizational, and societal factors.
Yates (2004) suggests applying diffusion theory to promote the adoption of
media literacy programs in American schools. He thinks that the rational approach
of the diffusion model can increase the adoption of media literacy education.
Therefore, this study tries to identify the factors which can predict the adoption so
that media advocates can develop better strategies to promote media literacy pro-
grams in schools. Findings in this study indicate that understanding media literacy
education, reflective teaching, school support, innovativeness of the school, and the
benefit of media literacy education for LS are the more prominent predictors.
It is suggested that media literacy education advocates should formulate action
plans based on these significant predicting variables. More professional develop-
ment courses which introduce the functions and advantages of media literacy educa-
tion should be conducted for schoolteachers. Advocates of media literacy education
should identify reflective teachers and innovative schools so that they can build up
the necessary networking links in order to promote wider introduction of media
literacy education into the new school subject, LS. Furthermore, more channels
should be used to inform potential LS teachers about the benefits of media literacy
education for teaching LS. Of course, it is also important to persuade school admin-
istrators and principals about the merits of media literacy education so that they can
offer more school support to teachers to adopt media literacy education. While
doing this, it is obviously not good enough simply to tell school administrators that
media literacy education can benefit students learning; it may also be necessary to
highlight the contribution of media literacy education to the smooth launch of LS.
In the 1990s the driving force for developing media literacy education in Hong
Kong was the deteriorating media environment. Now in the 2000s, the engine for
driving the growth of media literacy education is the introduction of LS. Media lit-
eracy education advocates treasure the education reform opportunity, and they are
making efforts to bring media literacy education into more schools. Advocacy
strategies should be informed by research, and so further studies on the relationship
between Liberal Studies and media literacy education should be carried out in Hong
Kong.

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Digital Media Use by Chinese Youth and Its
Impact

Guofang Wan, Ellen Yeh, and Hong Cheng

Abstract As the world continues to be wired up electronically and as people con-


tinue to move their daily lives online, electronic media become more and more
prominent in China. This chapter presents the latest statistics about the media use by
Chinese young people, describes the unprecedented growth trends of media useage,
and outlines the reasons why young people in China are so enthusiastic about new
gadgets and embrace activities on the Internet, as well as some potential impact of
their media use. Results of the study indicate immediate needs for enhanced media
literacy education in China, which will enable Chinese young people to become
mature users of new media and will help avoid the issues that media use may bring.

Keywords Chinese youths media use Impact of media use Media literacy
education

1 Introduction

We have probably all encountered some of these scenes: people on a metro train
deeply engaged in fun activities with their smartphones, attending a friends wed-
ding from the other side of the earth via Skype, a two-year-old girl showing grandpa
how to use an iPad, grandparents baffled by a family dinner interrupted by constant
phone rings and instant messaging (IM) beeps, and texting friends sitting across the
room. We marvel, but also become bewildered by what is happening to us and what
is going on in the world. This chapter attempts to answer some of the questions that
we have about the use of media by young people in China.

G. Wan (*) H. Cheng, Ph.D.


Virginia Commonwealth University,
1015 West Main Street, Olive Hall 2119A, Richmond, VA 23284, USA
e-mail: gwan@vcu.edu; hcheng2@vcu.edu
E. Yeh, Ph.D.
Columbia College Chicago,
33 E. Congress Parkway, Room 300-V, Chicago, IL 60605-1996, USA
e-mail: eyeh@colum.edu

Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2016 47


C.K. Cheung, Media Literacy Education in China,
DOI 10.1007/978-981-10-0045-4_4
48 G. Wan et al.

As the world continues to be wired up electronically and as people continue to


move their daily lives online, electronic media become more and more prominent in
our society. Chinas Internet savvy population has soared to the top in the world,
followed by the United States (Internet World Stat 2012). Internet users in mainland
China grew from 22,500,000 in 2000 to 620,907,200 in 2014, Internet users in Hong
Kong grew from 2,283,000 in 2000 to 5,329,372 in 2014, and Internet users in
Taiwan grew from 6,260,000 in 2000 to 18,687,942 in 2014 (Internet World Stats
2014). There are currently 2,730,000 Chinese websites out there in the cyberspace
(CNNIC 2014b).
The rapid growth of Digital Age has also made media use an indispensible way
of life for Chinese people (Liu et al. 2012). Chinese school-age children (611 years
old), adolescents (1218 years old), and young adults (1924 years old) have
become the largest population of Internet users. According to CNNIC (2014c), by
the end of December 2013, a total of 256 million Chinese adolescents are Internet
users, which is 45.8 % of the total population of Internet users in China. However,
as national survey research indicates that Chinese children and adolescents spend
more and more time using media at a progressively early age on the Internet (DeBell
and Chapman 2006; Lei et al. 2009; CNNIC 2014c), public attention and concerns
have appeared about the media use by Chinese young people.
Appropriate use of the Internet can be beneficial to childrens development in
self-identity, cognitive skills, and social skills (Liu et al. 2012). However, research
reported that children and adolescents with excessive use of the Internet usually
struggle with poor academic performance (Liu et al. 2012), family relationship
problems (Yen et al. 2007), social skill problems (Lam 2012; Leung and Lee 2005;
Li and Chen 2014), and health problems (Yen et al. 2007). Chinese parents seek
professional consultation for their children who are addicted to the Internet (Liu
et al. 2012). Research also revealed that few mass media showed traditional Chinese
culture and norms (Liu et al. 2012), and sometimes it undermined the values of
Chinese culture. Commercials on television and the Internet delivered concepts of
materialism and carried violent messages.
Currently, limited research is available that focuses on the use of media by
Chinese children, adolescents, and young adults (Gibson and Oberg 2004).
Accordingly, it is important to investigate and gain a better understanding of the
characteristics of Chinese youths media use, factors that may affect their media
use, and the potential impact of the media use on their lives. In order to prepare
Chinese students for their life and work in the twenty-first century, to educate chil-
dren and youth to become mature consumers of media, to help teachers, parents,
and society better understand Chinese youth and their uses of digital media, this
chapter reviews and reports findings from academic studies over the past 10 years
(20042014) in the area of media use by Chinese youth and the impact of their
media use.
The following paragraphs describe some key terms that we refer to in the chapter
and some digital media that Chinese youth enjoy using:
Digital Media Use by Chinese Youth and Its Impact 49

Media by definition means tools used to store and convey information and data.
Different media, digital media, advertising media, mass media, news media, and
social media, etc., each fulfill different purposes for their users. As the twenty-
first-century Digital Age continues to permeate our world, and as individuals
become more and more dependent on the use of digital media, in this study, the
word media mainly refers to digital media, including the Internet, computers,
smartphones, social media, and all the amenities that technology gadgets afford
us.
Media literacy by definition means the understanding of the use of media and being
able to use media as a source of information, entertainment, empowerment,
enrichment, and communication (Wan and Gut 2008a). More specifically, it is
important to learn how to use information technology instead of being manipu-
lated by technology (Wan and Gut 2008a). Media literacy also emphasizes (1)
focusing on accessing and absorbing the information on media and technology;
(2) developing critical thinking and analysis skills of the content, form, and con-
text of media messages, systems, and institutions; and (3) the capability of creat-
ing information or messages through the use of digital, electronic, and visual
technological tools for communication and expressing ones opinions (Hobbs
2008; Wan and Gut 2008b).
Social network refers to web-based services that allow individuals to (1) con-
struct a public profile in a bounded system, (2) develop a list of other users with
whom they share a connection, and (3) view and edit the list of connections and
those made by others within the system (Boyd and Ellison 2007). Various types of
social networks reach different groups of users based on their interests and needs.
For instance, social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, and
Google + solicit broad audiences. Professional social networks such as LinkedIn
focus on business people. Furthermore, websites focused on media sharing have
implemented social network features and become social network themselves,
namely, Last.fm (a music listening/sharing site) and YouTube (a video sharing site).
IM is a text-based real-time communication that is computer and smartphone
generated over the Internet. Conversation on IM shows right after it is created and
sent (line by line). Therefore, its texting application makes it more like a telephone
communication than correspondence (Lo and Leung 2009). Tencent QQ, also called
QQ, is an instant messaging software tool used widely in China. QQ provides vari-
ous features, such as music, online social games, shopping blog, and voice chat
(Tencent QQ n.d.). A blog, also called weblog, is a website that maintains an ongo-
ing chronicle of information. Blog feature offers links to news, articles, and images
on other websites. The information usually is shown as a list of entries in converse
chronological order. Blogging is a behavior that bloggers do on the blog. The skill
that bloggers need to manage a blog is called blogging. Blogging includes writing a
blog, editing, posting, designing, and maintaining the websites (Blog n.d.). WeChat
is a mobile application that supports text, photo, voice and video messaging, voice
and video calls, and group chat. It is a web-based communication software widely
used in China (WeChat n.d.).
50 G. Wan et al.

2 Design of Study

2.1 Research Questions

The study aims to answer the following questions: (1) What are some characteris-
tics/trends of Chinese youths media use? (2) What factors affect Chinese youths
media use? (3) How do Chinese youths media use impact their lives?

2.2 InclusionExclusion Criteria of Literature

Given that little research has been conducted in the area of how Chinese youth use
media and the impact of their media use, the inclusion criteria were liberal, includ-
ing mainly journal articles, conference papers, as well as official national research
reports. Studies that focus on media literacy, Internet use by Chinese youth, factors
that affect Chinese youths media use, and the impact of Chinese adolescents media
use are examined; studies about Chinese children, adolescents, and young adults,
i.e., K12 school (618 years old) and college students (1925 years old), are
included; studies of media use and impact in the Greater China, i.e., mainland
China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan, are selected; and studies written in both
English and Chinese are included. The selection criteria for content are as follows:
1. Discussion about the characteristics of the media use by Chinese youth
2. Investigation into factors that affect Chinese students use of media
3. Discussion about the impact of Chinese students media use

2.3 Literature Search

Basic searches were performed using four databases, Education Resources


Information Center (ERIC), Education Research Complete, JSTOR, and Google
Scholar. As technology advances every day and students media uses change accord-
ingly, in order to keep the report current, we decided to include only studies con-
ducted over the past ten years, i.e., from 2004 to 2014.
Keywords search was performed to seek articles published between 2004 and
2014. The keywords China/Chinese + young children/adolescents/college stu-
dents + media, media literacy, media uses, Internet use, social networking sites, and
factors affecting media use, as well as parental involvement and impacts of media,
were entered on the Internet and educational data sources. Forty-four related articles
were generated in 17 journals and four government official websites. Among them,
32 articles were in English and 12 articles were in Chinese. However, only 18 out of
44 articles met the above listed selection criteria. After back-checking each relevant
Digital Media Use by Chinese Youth and Its Impact 51

study, five additional pertinent resources were identified. Finally, the study included
23 articles. Nineteen articles are in English and four are in Chinese (see Table 1).

2.4 Data Analysis

The researchers read through the included articles carefully and coded them inde-
pendently and examined for common and major themes; then they discussed and
compared their findings and collaboratively identified the common themes pre-
sented in the findings section.

3 Results

3.1 Characteristics of Media Use by Chinese Youth

The result drawn from current research (CNNIC 2014a, 2014c; Li et al. 2007; 2009;
Liu 2010; Wan and Gut 2008a) about the use of digital media by Chinese youth
shows a general trend of significant growth, especially in younger users, in the num-
ber of mobile phone access to the Internet and in the time Chinese youth spend
online; three major reasons for going online, i.e., entertainment, information seek-
ing, and chatting online; the narrowing of the digital divide, but still existing in
China; and that the group of 1825 years old makes the largest Internet population
in China.
The latest research shows that Chinese school-age children, adolescents, and
young adults have become the largest population in media use in China. According
to CNNIC (2014c) report by the end of December 2013, a total of 256 million
Chinese youth are Internet users, which is 71.8 % of the total number of Chinese
youth population and makes 41.5 % of the total Chinese Internet users. Eighty-eight
percent of the Internet users are from the 1224-years-old group; however, CNNIC
(2014c) revealed that more than 14 million Internet users are less than 12 years old.
Growing up with screens of smartphone and tablet PCs as toys, the 612-years-old
group becomes the new Apple Generation, different from the TV and Computer
Generations, and believes the web knows more than their parents (Guangzhou
Municipal Committee of the Communist Youth League and Guangzhou Children's
Palace (GMCCYL and GCP) 2013).
The statistics (CNNIC 2014c) also show that the time these children and adoles-
cents spent online is rising. By the end of December 2013, Chinese adolescents
spent 20.7 h per week using the Internet, an increase of 2.3 h compared with that at
the end of 2012.
The use of the Internet has become a favorite and dominant activity among
Chinese adolescents. Li et al. (2007) investigated how Chinese elementary school
52 G. Wan et al.

Table 1 Major themes and studies included


Questions Themes Studies Methods No. of subject/site
Use: Largest group of CNNIC Quantitative: 60,000/China
Characteristics user: youth (2014a) phone and
online surveys
Growth in: no. of CNNIC Quantitative: Fr CNNIC, 2014a- (624
young users, (2014c) phone and years. old)/China
time spent, online surveys
mobile phone
access
Top three reasons GMCCYL Quantitative: 3306 (612 years.
for use: & GCP survey old)/15 cities, China
entertainment, (2013)
information
seeking,
socializing
Digital divide: GMCCYL Quantitative: 3306 (612 years.
urban/east vs. and GCP survey old)/15 cities, China
rural/west (2013)
Wan and Quantitative: 955 (secondary)/China
Gut survey
(2008a)
Wan and Quantitative: 955 (secondary)/China
Gut survey
(2008b)
Li et al. Quantitative: 19,229 (elementary)/
(2007) survey China
(continued)
Digital Media Use by Chinese Youth and Its Impact 53

Table 1 (continued)
Questions Themes Studies Methods No. of subject/site
Factors: Affect Sociocultural Yen et al. Quantitative: 3662 (secondary)/Taiwan
uses context and (2007) survey
family Liu (2010) Qualitative: 25 (1619 years. old)/
environment in-depth China
interview
Liu et al. Quantitative: 3556 (secondary)/China
(2012) survey
Chang and Quantitative: 1500 (5th and 6th
Liu (2011) survey grades)/Taiwan
Wan and Quantitative: 955 (secondary)/China
Gut survey
(2008b)
Uses and Sheer Quantitative: 248 (912 grades)/Hong
gratification (2011) survey Kong
Shen et al. Quantitative: 637 (elementary)/China
(2013) survey
Personality traits Leung Quantitative: 532 (college)/Hong Kong
(2007) survey
Wang Quantitative: 265 (college)/China
et al. survey
(2012)
Wang and Quantitative: 268 (college)/study
Sun survey abroad in the United
(2009) States
(continued)
54 G. Wan et al.

Table 1 (continued)
Questions Themes Studies Methods No. of subject/site
Impact of uses Sociocultural Leung and Qualitative: 696 (1564 years. old)/
and intercultural Lee interview Hong Kong
aspects (2005)
Li and Quantitative: 854/China
Chen survey
(2014)
Lo and Quantitative: 236/Hong Kong
Leung survey
(2009)
Sheer Quantitative: 248 (912 grades)/Hong
(2011) survey Kong
Wang and Quantitative: 268 (college)/study
Sun survey abroad in the United
(2009) States
Wang Quantitative: 265 (college)/China
et al. survey
(2012)
Liu et al. Quantitative: 455 (elementary)/China
(2013) survey
Longitudinal
study
Technology: Lei et al. Quantitative: 114 (1214 years. old)/
motivation and (2009) survey China
learning Lam Survey and 312 (1864 years. old)/
(2012) interview Hong Kong
Shen et al. Quantitative: 637 (912 years. old)/
(2013) survey China
Health issues Chang and Quantitative: 1,539 (elementary 1213
Liu (2011) survey years. old)/Taiwan
Liu et al. Quantitative: 3556 (secondary)/China
(2012) survey
Yen et al. Quantitative: 3662 (secondary)/Taiwan
(2007) survey

students spent their spare time, and the results showed that using the Internet has
become one of the most popular leisure activities among these students, followed by
watching television and reading. Further, using the Internet has become a more dom-
inant activity than outdoor activities. Entertainment use of the Internet has become
popular among Chinese youth (Liu 2010). They download music, play online video
games, watch movies and videos, and read literature online (CNNIC 2014c).
Compared with the use of the Internet by other age groups in China, Chinese adoles-
cent Internet users are 11 % higher in online gaming and 10.3 % higher in download-
ing music. Other studies (Lei et al. 2009; Wan and Gut 2008a, 2008b) also validate
the findings that using computers, searching for information, chatting, gaming
Digital Media Use by Chinese Youth and Its Impact 55

online, and downloading music, movies, and pictures from the Internet are favorite
pastime for Chinese youth.
CNNIC (2014c) also showed that China has had 221 million mobile Internet
users, a growth of 12.8 % compared with that in 2012. Among all the Chinese ado-
lescent Internet users, the proportion of those using mobile phones to access the
Internet rose to 86.3 %, which is 5.3 % higher compared with the mobile phone uses
(81 %) by the general Chinese Internet population. Chinese adolescents use mobile
phones for social networking, searching for information, and online entertainment.
CNNIC (2014c) showed that the top three usage of mobile phones are texting or IM
(90.6 %), searching for information (79.4 %), and downloading music (70.2 %).
The differences between young childrens (611 years old) uses and adolescents
(1218 years old) uses lie mainly in the numbers of users, what they use the Internet
for, how they access the Internet, and the places where they use the Internet. The
largest population of Internet users among Chinese youth remains with the
1924-years-old group (45.5 %), the second goes to the 1218-years-old group
(42.9 %), and the 611-years-old group remains the last (11.6 %). However, the
611-years-old group saw the largest growth (5 %) over the last year jumping from
7.8 to 11.6 % (CNNIC 2014c). Mobile Internet access is young childrens main
equipment for Internet use (79 %), Internet gaming is more in population among
young children (70.5 %) than adolescents (65.7 %), and more young children access
the Internet at home and at school than adolescents (CNNIC 2014c).
Research (GMCCYL and GCP 2013) shows that in Chinese urban households
with children ages 612 years old, mobile phone penetration rate is the highest (97.8
%), followed by TV (97 %), and computers (95.4 %); and 44.5 % of children own
cell phones, 67.7 % use tablet PCs, and 65 % play games online. Data also show that
kindergarteners can skillfully operate smartphones and tablet PCs. Technology
becomes young childrens (612 years old) choice of means for communication:
with 69.7 % use QQ daily, 51.4 % use blogging, and 45.7 % use WeChat.
Research (CNNIC 2014a, c) also indicates that there still exists a digital divide
between the urban/developed Eastern areas and the rural/developing Western areas
in China although the gap is narrowing. Penetration of the Internet is more extensive
and quality of the broadband is better in the developed areas than in the developing
areas in China (CNNIC 2014a, c). Only 28.6 % (CNNIC 2014a) of the total Internet
users in China live in rural areas with 71.4 % living in urban and more developed
areas. While 195 million (CNNIC 2014c) Chinese youth Internet users reside in
urban areas, 61.4 million are from the rural areas. The frequency of various Internet
uses is higher for urban youth than that of rural youth except IM, which is used more
often by rural youth than urban youth.
56 G. Wan et al.

3.2 Factors Affecting Chinese Youths Media Use

To understand the behavioral, attitudinal, and intentional reactions of Chinese youth


toward the ever-changing innovations of technology, studies indicate the various
factors that may affect how Chinese youth view and use digital media. The perspec-
tives they take include sociocultural context and family environment (Liu 2010; Yen
et al. 2007; Liu et al. 2012; Wan and Gut 2008b; Chang and Liu 2011), psychologi-
cal perspectives of uses and gratifications (Sheer 2011; Wang and Sun 2009), and
personality traits (Leung 2007; Wang et al. 2012).
One set of studies, standing out, shows the importance of sociocultural embed-
dedness and the roles played by family environment in Chinese youths relationship
with the Internet. Through the lens of Schutzs social-biological situation, Liu
(2010) reports Chinese youth see the Internet as a leisure device (toy) more than an
aid to their academic performance and tend to use the Internet as an escape from
their real world. The unique socio-biological context of everyday life that shapes
Chinese youths relationship with the Internet includes their perceived pressure to
do well in school, life opportunities, family structure, intergenerational relation-
ships, and the educational system (Liu 2010) with the high-stake national entrance
examination for college.
While proper Internet use can facilitate the personal and cognitive skill develop-
ment and socialization for youth (Jackson et al. 2011), excessive and compulsive
Internet use may be detrimental (Greenfield and Yan 2006). Studies (Yen et al.
2007; Liu et al. 2012), exploring the association of family environment with Chinese
youth pathological Internet use (PIU), suggested that youth with supportive family
and quality parent-children communications are less likely to develop PIU, and
parental norms and Internet use predict Chinese youths PIU and attitudes to the
Internet. The findings of Liu et al. (2012) revealed that the more parent and adoles-
cent communicate with each other, the lower the likelihood for adolescents to
develop PIU. Quality communication with parents can decrease the risk of having
problems with Internet use. Adolescents who have more parental support are more
likely to have positive social connections online. Parents use of the Internet has a
strong impact on adolescents attitudes and behavior toward the use of the Internet
(Liu et al. 2012).
Media literacy education provided at school and home may exert positive social
and family impact on Chinese youth. Wan and Gut (2008a) suggested to empower
students with the three stages of media literacy education described by Thoman
(1995): (1) making wise choices and managing the amount of time spent, (2) criti-
cally analyzing and questioning the information, and (3) exploring deeper issues of
who produces the media and for what purposes. Chang and Liu (2011) validated
that media literacy education taught in schools enhances students abilities to access,
analyze, and evaluate information in a variety of forms and encouraged educators to
integrate media literacy education into school curriculum.
Studies (Leung 2007; Shen et al. 2013; Wang and Sun 2009; Wang et al. 2012)
guided by a well-established social psychological approach to examine media, uses
Digital Media Use by Chinese Youth and Its Impact 57

and gratifications (U&G), focus on how individual uses media to gratify personal
needs and emphasize on individual differences during the process of media uses.
This line of research (Leung 2001; Leung and Wei 2000; Papcharissi and Rubin
2000) identified some broad motives that people have for using digital media: infor-
mation exchange, to pass time, convenience, entertainment, socializing, education,
and escape and diversion. Research reported it is the psychological motivations and
factors that attract Chinese youth to digital media, which satisfy their basic needs
(Shen et al. 2013). Leung (2007) claimed that college students favor Short Message
Service (SMS) for its convenience, low cost, and utility for coordinating events. The
media richness, for example, webcam, self-presentation, and communication con-
trol, explains why teenagers use the Microsoft Network (MSN) to develop online
friends (Sheer 2011).
Personality traits were found to affect how one uses the digital media. People
who are socially anxious and unwilling to communicate face-to-face spent less
time, not more on SMS (Leung 2007). Students who are in chronically lonely, situ-
ationally lonely, and non-lonely groups were different in their motives for Internet
use: non-lonely Chinese students were more likely to use the Internet for accultura-
tion and less likely to use it for passing time and companionship than did chroni-
cally lonely Chinese students (Wang and Sun 2009). Wang et al. (2012) investigated
the relationships among the Big Five personality factors, self-esteem, narcissism,
and sensation seeking to Chinese adolescents use of social networking sites (SNSs).
The results indicated that different personalities apply different approaches to form
their social relationships on SNSs. For instance, individuals with high self-esteem
are more likely to comment on other friends profiles or pictures, individuals who
are more open to sensation seeking tend to play online video games on SNSs, and
individuals who are narcissistic tend to post attractive pictures of themselves on
SNSs and are more likely to update status for self-presentation.

3.3 Impact of Media Use on Chinese Youth

The impact of Chinese adolescents media use provides important information for
parents, educators, and policymakers to assist children to appropriately use digital
media. To understand the effects of media on Chinese youth, three main media
impacts are introduced: (1) sociocultural and intercultural aspects (Leung and Lee
2005; Li and Chen 2014; Lo and Leung 2009; Sheer 2011; Wang and Sun 2009;
Wang et al. 2012); (2) technology, motivation and learning (Lei et al. 2009; Lam
2012; Shen et al. 2013); and (3) health issues (Chang and Liu 2011; Liu et al. 2012;
Yen et al. 2007).
58 G. Wan et al.

3.3.1 Sociocultural and Intercultural Aspects

The sociocultural and intercultural concepts are a growing concern for twenty-first-
century citizens and communities pursuing for sustainable life satisfaction and
global awareness in a digital world. Intercultural competency refers to how people
from diverse backgrounds and cultures communicate and interact with others and
become competent in acquiring a foreign language (Byram 1997; Kramsch 1995).
According to Trilling and Fadel (2009), to become a twenty-first-century citizen, an
individual should acquire a variety of skills and a wide range of knowledge. These
skills and techniques identified as global literacy skills in the twenty-first century
(Yeh and Kessler 2014) can be divided into three types: (1) learning and innovation
skills; (2) information, media, and technology skills; and (3) life and career skills
(Trilling and Fadel 2009). This sociocultural and intercultural section discusses the
impact of Chinese youths media use in terms of (1) social support (Leung and Lee
2005; Wang et al. 2012), (2) interpersonal communication (Lo and Leung 2009;
Sheer 2011), and (3) intercultural competency (Li and Chen 2014; Wang and Sun
2009).
Social supports and social relationships are essential elements that can enhance
quality of life. Use of media and new technologies do play significant roles in
enhancing the quality of life (Leung and Lee 2005) as people connect with each
other online or offline; receive and give love, affection, sympathy, guidance, and
information; and spend time with others. For instance, individuals enjoy listening to
music, watching movies, chatting online, and searching for information and news
on the Internet. Liu et al. (2013) reported that seeking school- and life-related infor-
mation on the Internet predicted more life satisfaction and less loneliness through
improved self-esteem for Chinese youth. As parents, educators, and policymakers,
it is imperative to understand the social relationships and social interaction of the
Chinese youth on the Internet and to provide social supports and guidance of using
media appropriately online.
Interpersonal communication is one of the most important elements in develop-
ing social skills. As the Internet continues to transform computer-mediated com-
munication (CMC), Internet-mediated interpersonal communication has progressed
from traditional technological tools (i.e., e-mail, telephone) to instant messaging
(IM) (Lo and Leung 2009) and the versatile WeChat. Studies suggested that IM has
become one of the most commonly used tools of computer-mediated interpersonal
communication among Chinese youth (Lo and Leung 2009; Sheer 2011). The fea-
tures that IM provides are more advanced and convenient. For instance, compared
with traditional telephones, IM is less expensive. Compared with e-mail, IM offers
more features synchronically and more interactions. Studies also suggested that
Chinese adolescents preference of using IM is closely related to sociability (Lo
and Leung 2009). Adolescents claim that they feel less lonely while engaging in IM
chat because IM is more spontaneous regardless of receiving feedback and
responses. Further, users are able to see who in their buddy list is available online
to interact with them. Sheer (2011) supported the findings of Lo and Leung (2009)
that interpersonal communication online is a commonly used approach to develop
Digital Media Use by Chinese Youth and Its Impact 59

their social networking skills and forming friendships. Sheer (2011) claimed that
the impacts of media richness and communication opportunities on the use of IM
enhance adolescents self-presentation and friendship development. The rich fea-
tures and applications on IM, namely, webcam and messaging functions, encourage
the making of new friends, acquaintances, and opposite-sex friends. Moreover, pre-
dominantly text-based messages helped with the development of close friendship.
Studies also show that the use of media helps Chinese youth to not only under-
stand cultures from other countries but also understand the culture of their own (Li
and Chen 2014; Wang and Sun 2009). Social networking sites (SNSs) are signifi-
cant tools for Chinese youth to develop intercultural competency and bridge socio-
cultural perspectives with friends from other cultures (Li and Chen 2014). Li and
Chen (2014) suggested that for Chinese international students who study overseas
to build intercultural competency in the host country, Facebook is more effective
than the indigenous Renren. The use of host country and coethnic language media
indicates that host country media play a significant role in conveying information
about the host countrys culture and customs.

3.3.2 Technology: Motivation and Learning

Motivation is one potent element for any learning process and success. As technol-
ogy is changing the way we teach dramatically, this section discusses how to benefit
from online learning platforms and social media to motivate Chinese youth in
learning.
Studies claim technology helps adolescents learn more effectively and efficiently
(Lei et al. 2009; U.S. Department of Education 1996, 2000, 2004), and as a result,
it enhances student academic achievement and prepares them for careers. Due to the
increasing Internet use among Chinese students, one of the important efforts to
improve education in the last decades has been the investment in technology inte-
gration in school settings. China had invested 100 billion RMB (i.e., twelve billion
USD) in integrating technology in education (Lei et al. 2009; Zhao 2012). The
Chinese government has made significant progress, from no Internet on K 12
school settings a decade ago to 86.2 % of urban schools and 41.8 % of rural schools
having access to the Internet (Lei et al. 2009).
Studies show SNSs are effective tools for motivation in learning. Lam (2012)
studied whether incorporating Facebook in teaching with its four benefits, (1) inter-
action, (2) communication, (3) social relationship, and (4) participation, would
motivate Chinese youth in learning and received positive results. This generation of
youth has grown up with digital media and is used to using them in their daily lives.
It makes sense for schools to capitalize on students nature of interest in digital
media to teach and to motivate them to learn. CNNIC (2014c) reported that while
searching for information online independently, Chinese young children are found
reading materials that are more advanced for their age.
Regarding the effects of media use on pedagogical practices, Lei et al. (2009)
examined the differences of interest in various subject matters and motivations of
60 G. Wan et al.

learning among Chinese youth. Students claim that science and social studies were
taught in a traditional teacher-centered learning environment, and technology was
usually used by teachers in instruction rather than by students in learning activities
in the classroom. The study also showed that foreign language is one of the least
favorites for Chinese students. However, these adolescents assert that they would be
more motivated and interested in learning foreign languages if their teachers inte-
grated technology in the curriculum. With many valuable English resources online,
integrating them into the classroom would definitely provide a motivating learning
environment for Chinese adolescents in learning the English language (Lei et al.
2009).

3.3.3 Health Issues

When used appropriately, the Internet can be beneficial to adolescents, developing


their socializing and cognitive skills and self-identity (Liu et al. 2012), providing
entertainment, and facilitating learning (Shen et al. 2013). However, pathological
Internet use (PIU) is a serious problem nowadays, especially for adolescents.
Adolescents with PIU suffered from physical health problems, poor academic per-
formance, and problems with social life, depression, loneliness, and failure at school
(Shen et al. 2013). Previous studies suggested that Chinese adolescents parental
involvements are significant predictors of adolescent PIU (Yen et al. 2007; Liu et al.
2012). Therefore, Liu et al. (2012) proposed that parental involvements including
(1) parental Internet use behaviors, (2) parent value regarding adolescents Internet
use, and (3) parent-adolescent communication should be further investigated in
order to understand adolescents with PIU. With healthy relationship between par-
ents and children, with positive role models at home, young Internet users should be
able to make healthy and proper use of technology.
For people who are introverts and neurotics, the Internet provides them with
opportunities to express their real me in the virtual world, which may potentially
help prevent them from suffering serious psychological disorders and have an
impact on their well-being (Amichai-Hamburger et al. 2002). A large national study
by medical doctors in China (Li et al. 2007) reported that the presence of a TV or a
computer in a childs bedroom and the use of them have a negative effect on chil-
drens sleep/wake patterns and duration of sleep and may bring on sleep disorders
for children. Media literacy education including managing time and making choices
for Chinese children may assist them with self-regulation and discipline in their use
of media. These skills allow them to become twenty-first-century citizens, informed
decision-makers, and critical thinkers, as well as have healthy lifestyles (Chang and
Liu 2011).
Digital Media Use by Chinese Youth and Its Impact 61

4 Discussion and Conclusion

This chapter presents the latest statistics of Chinese young peoples heavy media
use and describes the unprecedented growth trends of the Internet and its young
users in China. To explain why young people are so enthusiastic about new gadgets
and embrace activities on the Internet, this chapter indicates that the use of digital
media by Chinese youth is affected by the sociocultural context they live in as well
as their immediate family environment and school media literacy education, by the
various psychological gratifications they experience from using digital media, and
by their personal characteristics. The chapter shows that technology is going to stay
and play continuing important roles in everyones life, and technology is a double-
edged sword. While media use develops young peoples social and cognitive skills,
provides entertainment, and facilitates their learning, pathological Internet use may
lead to various social and health issues. Media use comes with great potential to
benefit Chinese youth, but on the other hand, if not used appropriately, it could be
harmful in many ways.
The question for parents, educators, and policymakers is: What can we do to
capitalize on the enthusiasm and interest of young people for technology and guide
and educate them so they will be able to enjoy the amazing things that new inven-
tions offer and avoid the potential harms? According to Katz et al. (1974), psycho-
logical dispositions, social factors, and environmental conditions together shape
and regulate individuals media use; we believe it is imperative to work with young
people, families and parents, and educators to create a healthy home and positive
school environments and model and teach media literacy skills to children. If stu-
dents are to use new media to their own greatest advantage, they too must learn to
creatively and critically browse, research, organize, select and produce communica-
tion forms that use the full spectrum of literacy tools available to them (Tyner
2003, p. 374). Adults in society have a twofold responsibility: educate young people
in appropriate and ethical use of media and find creative and interesting ways to
utilize new media to teach students at home and in the classroom. Through media
literacy education, we help young people learn how to deal with information over-
flow and how to make smart choices, teach them critical thinking skills and ways to
stay away from age-inappropriate content and unsafe behaviors online, and guide
them in their learning through the Internet. Moreover, as media literacy has been
identified as an essential skill for students to succeed in the twenty-first century
(Partnership for 21st Century Skills n.d.), it is crucial that schools assist students in
acquiring the skills.
The study found emerging efforts in China advocating for media literacy educa-
tion. For example, the website (SMSE 2010) with information for teachers and
schools to integrate media literacy education in their teaching and childrens centers
in some major cities like Guangzhou (GMCCYL and GCP 2013) took the lead in
educating children about critical use of media and experimenting with media liter-
acy curriculum in schools. Currently, media literacy is not taught systematically in
62 G. Wan et al.

schools in China. Advocacy and implementation for media literacy education in


school curriculum will benefit the Chinese society as a whole.
There exist informal and anecdotal reports on issues and problems of childrens
Internet use, such as becoming overindulged on the Internet and neglecting school
work and sharing private information online, and there are reports on responses to
concerns for young childrens Internet use, such as regulations made by law enforce-
ment agencies in China and shutting down of Internet cafes and websites containing
cyber violence and pornographic content (Wan and Gut 2008a, 2008b). However,
this study did not find systematic research on issues related to the Internet use by
Chinese children. Future studies on safe Internet use and longitudinal studies on
impacts of childrens media use in terms of their human development would become
valuable contributions to the field.
Further, this study found very limited formal and well-designed studies assessing
childrens knowledge on media literacy, assessing effect of media literacy education
on childrens use of media, and assessing parents and teachers knowledge on how
to teach media literacy to children. Future research along these lines is needed and
will certainly benefit Chinese youth while new technology and inventions continue
to attract their eyeballs. Studies should also be conducted to explore ways to inte-
grate technology in teaching and in enhancing students learning. Professional
development for teachers to learn to integrate media literacy education into their
existing curriculum and using technology to teach should also be considered.

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Confidence Building, Empowerment,
and Engagement: An Argument for Practicing
Media Literacy Education in Special
Education Settings in Hong Kong

C.K. Cheung

Abstract Today, the mass media are now regarded as essential for keeping people
up to date with the world around them. In order to combat the negative influences
media may have on youngsters, media literacy education has been called upon and
was implemented in some primary and secondary schools in Hong Kong. However,
the benefits have not been extended to the field of special education. This paper
attempts an argument for the incorporation of media literacy education into the
special education curriculum. Here special education means education for children
and adolescents with various physical disabilitieshearing/visual impairments,
mobility impairment, and so forth. The paper argues that media literacy education
can help students with disability combat media stereotypes, actively participate in
society, and become engaged in media production.

Keywords Special education Hong Kong Media literacy Stereotyping Media


production

1 Introduction

Today, the mass media are now regarded as essential for keeping people up to date
with the world around them. In order to combat the negative influences media may
have on youngsters, media literacy education has been called upon and was imple-
mented in some primary and secondary schools in Hong Kong (Cheung 2004,
2005). However, the benefits have not been extended to the field of special educa-
tion. And the question must be asked, What does media literacy education have to
offer? Is there really a need at all for teaching disabled students how to critically

C.K. Cheung (*)


Faculty of Education, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong
e-mail: cheungck@hku.hk

Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2016 65


C.K. Cheung, Media Literacy Education in China,
DOI 10.1007/978-981-10-0045-4_5
66 C.K. Cheung

analyze and create media messages? Will they ever benefit from learning such kind
of skills?
The answer, I will attempt to show, is a resounding yes. Not only do special edu-
cation students need to be taught media and information literacy skills for the same
reason general education students do, but in many cases, children with disabilities
are more susceptible to media influence and manipulation than their nondisabled
peers and thus are more in need of the ability to resist these influences.

2 Disability as We Understand It: Medical Model


versus Social Model

I want first to examine briefly the question What constitutes disability? in the
hope that it might shed some light on the nature of disability and the way in which
it should be addressed. Traditionally, disability was understood using the medical
model of disability. According to this view, disability is the result of illness and
impairment and entails suffering and social disadvantage (Thomas 2004). The med-
ical model of disability helps justify large-scale investment in medical technologies
and research designed to cure or improve the disabled individuals condition and
well-being.
The medical model stands in sharp contrast to what in the field of disability stud-
ies is termed the social model of disability, which emphasizes the social causes of
disability. This social view does not deny that physical impairments are directly
linked to disability, but stresses that people are disabled not so much by their physi-
cal conditions as by the existing social and organizational barriersfor example,
absence of subtitles on television programs, building entrances without wheelchair
ramps, etc.which are derived ultimately from peoples view of disability as an
abnormal or defective condition, a condition to be cured but not recognized.
This social interpretation of disability is summarized well by Finkelstein, one of the
cofounders of UPIAS (Union of the Physically Impaired Against Segregation), who
sees disability as something imposed on top of our impairments by the way we are
unnecessarily isolated and excluded from full participation in society (UPIAS
1976, cited in Thomas 2004).
This social model raises a crucial point which is relevant to our present discus-
sion: while impairments are clearly physical, objective conditions with limited
room for improvement, disability is more properly seen as a subjective construction,
one that changes over time as peoples subjective perceptions evolve. But then there
is the question, Whose subjective perception? It is clear that disability policies are
largely shaped by the perceptions of nondisabled people, but does that tell the whole
story? I will attempt to show, in the following sections, that there is a significant
psychological aspect to this problem and how it might be solved through the appli-
cation of media literacy education.
Confidence Building, Empowerment, and Engagement: An Argument for Practicing 67

3 Disabling the Publics Perceptions of the Disabled: Twisted


Images from the Media

There is ample evidence from the literature on media stereotype and disability to
support the contention that disability is associated with negative and unrealistic
media portrayals (Dahl 1993; Norden 1994; Harnett 2000). Disabled individuals
have been depicted as pitiable and pathetic, objects of violence, sinister and evil,
super cripples, objects of ridicule, their own worst and only enemies, burdens to
society, sexually abnormal, and incapable of participating fully in community life
(Barnes 1992). If the media portray disabled persons as violent or incompetent, the
public may be less accepting of them as colleagues, neighbors, or classmates. In
fact, studies showed that people with disabilities, as depicted in television and mov-
ies, belonged predominantly to lower social economic groups and were unemployed
and victims of abuse (Elliot and Byrd 1982; Greenberg and Collette 1997).
Moreover, even when they are represented in a positive light, the recurring image of
the disabled person is usually that of a brave, courageous figure, overcoming insur-
mountable difficulties of disability and completing heroic tasks.
These unusual stereotypes affect not only societys perception of disabled
people but the self-concept of the disabled themselves as well. The sociopsycho-
logical mechanism underlying this phenomenon is analogous to that of the famous
teacher-expectations effect experiment, in which students who were tested by
teachers who had been told of their students supposed high intelligence later per-
formed better than those students who were tested by uninformed teachers
(Rosenthal and Jacobson 1968). Positive perception of self by others (stereotype)
leads to positive self-perception (self-concept), which in turn leads to higher perfor-
mance (behavior). Likewise, negative stereotypes of disabled people lead to nega-
tive self-concepts, and unrealistic stereotypes (e.g., heroes) elicit in the disabled
person a sense of inadequacy (disabled people should be heroic), further lowering
their self-esteem (Wendell 1996) (Fig. 1).
How do we reverse this negative stereotype? It is worth noting that stereotypes
are not always unrealistic; after all, if disabled people have become what they are
portrayed to be, why alter those stereotypes when, in fact, they are true? However,
although changing the social stereotype may be difficult and problematic, we can
nevertheless initiate changes on the part of disabled individuals. If we want to pro-
duce positive behavior, we need to generate positive self-concepts; but simply tell-
ing the disabled person to feel good about yourself is surely not the way to solve
the problem. Instead, we need to alter the way in which media stereotypes affect

Social perception Self-perception


Behaviour
(Stereotype) (Confidence/Self-Concept)

If negative, behaviour reinforces stereotypes.

Fig. 1 Model of the relationship between stereotype, self-concept, and behavior


68 C.K. Cheung

disabled peoples self-concept. There is surely no logical necessity for ones self-
concept to be influenced by media stereotype, and education is one way of teaching
people how not to. Through media literacy education, teachers could help students,
both normal and disabled, develop understanding and social acceptance of students
with disabilities. It can allow educators to understand how the public perceive dis-
ability and provide clarification for these misunderstandings. Safran (2001) recom-
mended instructional strategies as a way to help students to further explore the
issues related to disability such as the evaluation of the accuracy of disability por-
trayal by researching specific disability conditions.

4 How Does Media Literacy Education Help?

4.1 Confidence Building: Combating Media Stereotypes

The media gives information, whether it is accurate or twisted, for the general pub-
lic to see the world. It is important in framing issues for the general public because
of certain natural barriers such as culture, distance, education, and communication
that limit their understanding of issues. Similarly, many people, who have no daily
contact with disabled people, may derive their perceptions, be it accurate or dis-
torted, of the disabled through the media. Riley (2005, p. 9) stated that media con-
tent plays an important role in the societal perception of disabled persons. To a
certain extent, the media defines the ways in which people with disabilities are
regarded, enforcing stereotypes.
Disabled persons inevitably have to face how they are represented in the media
or indeed, not represented at alland the normalization of disability as part of the
diversity of society has not been satisfactory. Greenberg and Brand (1994) summa-
rized a number of major studies dealing with disabilities and minorities in the mass
media. Their extensive literature review shows that far fewer studies deal with dis-
abilities and the media than with ethnic minorities. Others have noted that disabled
persons are not portrayed as part of normal society, and their opinions are rarely
sought on issues beyond those of disability that hit public awareness (Schantz and
Gilbert 2001; Schell and Rodriguez 2001).
How will media literacy education contribute to this media enlightenment? One
of the core concepts of media literacy education is all messages are constructed.
While this may appear self-evident in hindsight, it is important to recognize that this
constructedness is not at all obvious to children, especially when they are dis-
abled and depend heavily on their families in particular and society in general and
therefore are more prone to place trust in others than view them with skepticism.
The media becomes for disabled, as well as nondisabled, children their first curricu-
lum, while schooling comes second. This lack of alertness fosters an uncritical atti-
tude toward media messages and renders children vulnerable to influence and
manipulation. It is only through educating them about the complexities of the
Confidence Building, Empowerment, and Engagement: An Argument for Practicing 69

mediato know who created the message, for whom it is intended, for what pur-
pose, for examplethat we can teach them to become informed consumers of the
media, for whom stereotypes become subject to critical examination rather than
things to be blindly accepted. Safran (2000) noted that studying media content
implies an understanding that media images have some influence in society, particu-
larly if your social group is the one being portrayed. For students with disabilities,
this means they will be able to see themselves as they are, to have the will and con-
fidence to make changes in their lives, to take the initiative, and finally through their
efforts to alter some of the prevailing stereotypes about disability: is it not surprising
to see some late-night talk show host talking with his or her guests while pushing
the wheelchair around? That could only happen, however, with someone who has
the confidence to challenge rather than accept the stereotype, and media literacy
education is the first step toward confidence building.

4.2 Empowerment: Encouraging Social Participation

Not only are they passively stereotyped or influenced by the media, disabled people
are also significant, active media users. They watch television, listen to the radio,
and read magazines as much as any teenager does. With the advance of technology,
many have noted the enormous impact the Internet is having on the social and per-
sonal lives of disabled individuals (Ritchie and Blank 2003; Bricout 2004; Guo
et al. 2005). Disabled people use the Internet to interact and exchange information,
seek job opportunities, learn about the world, and seek help.
There exists, however, a digital divide between disabled and nondisabled people
and within disabled communities themselves, not only because of socioeconomic
polarization (Guo et al. 2005) but also due to discrepancies in levels of computer
literacy. Warschauer (2003) argued that the mere presence of computers is no way
to solve the problem of digital divide; what is needed is to encourage the meaningful
use of technology, and this can only be done through education.
What can media literacy education do to help disabled students to use the Internet
meaningfully? It offers a systematic knowledge of the nature of information tech-
nology and the Net, its various techniques, features, potentials, and resources. It can
teach young people, for example, how to engage in online communication effec-
tively and responsibly (Silverblatt 2000), how to search for and obtain desired infor-
mation, and how to deal with unsolicited ads and spam. Moreover, media literacy
education offers practical guidance for creating ones own media messagesweb-
sites, in this casewhich are much easier to handle and arguably more useful in
Internet contexts than in the other media forms.
All of these literacy skills are especially important for disabled children because
these skills pave the path toward a high degree of social participation. Before the
advent of the Internet, people with disabilities often lived in narrow social circles
composed of either family members or other disabled individuals. The resultant in-
group bias often led to a biased, if not hostile, attitude toward the larger society and
70 C.K. Cheung

contributed to the groups own isolation and loneliness. One of the most important
transformations of the pattern of disabled peoples social relationships in history
came with the birth of online communities. According to the systematic work of
Guo et al. (2005), 76.2 % of the respondents from an online disability community
in China agreed that they had more chances to make friends and participate in public
affairs and self-support groups, and 66.1 % agreed that the Internet could promote
social participation and increase mutual understanding between the disabled com-
munity and society at large.

4.3 Engagement Through Media Production

Media literacy education could be adopted in several forms. Having media literacy
education lessons is one and media production is another. As can be noted from the
development of media literacy education in various countries, the present period is
a phase toward a new paradigm which somehow emphasizes media production
compared with a previous protectionist approach which sees the media as harmful
and which tries to inoculate the young audience from the negative media influ-
ence (Buckingham 2003; Quin 2003; Cheung 2009). Stafford (2001) also observed
that, at present, most media courses will see the acquisition of basic skills, knowl-
edge and understanding about media production itself as a core element of
provision.
As many media educators call for a more reflexive pedagogy, the production
aspect of media literacy education is increasingly being emphasized. Buckingham
(2003) observed that there are several general reasons for this trend (pp. 1217).
First, the notion of the media as bearers of a singular set of ideologies and beliefs
which is uniformly harmful is not so easy to sustain in contemporary academic
discussions. Second, technological changes make it increasingly more difficult to
prevent children from gaining access to material that is supposed to be harmful,
and regulation may jeopardize young peoples civic participation. Third, younger
teachers today have grown up with electronic media; therefore, they are less likely
to see themselves as protectionist denouncing the negative influence of media
which they themselves enjoy; and they are more enthusiastic about teaching young
people to use media as forms of expression. Fourth, there is a global trend that
increasingly regards identity as a matter of individual choice, and thus individuals
become more diverse and autonomous in their uses and interpretations of media
goods.
Media production enables participants to create their own messages in the form
of print, audio, video, and multimedia. One of the current issues in media literacy
education in the USA is the discussion of whether practical production should be an
essential feature of media literacy education. Hobbs (1998) points out that a number
of educators believe that young people cannot become truly critical consumers of
the mass media until they have experienced practical media production.
Confidence Building, Empowerment, and Engagement: An Argument for Practicing 71

Media production also works for students with disabilities. The advances in tech-
nology make it easier for students to handle equipment. It is also important for stu-
dents to be engaged in creating their own true image of what disability is really like.
Furthermore, by engaging in media production, disabled students can develop their
career in the field of media industry after graduation. This is important as Barbara
Waters, Chief Executive of Skill, says One way of counteracting negative media
images of disabled people is by making sure that disabled people can access oppor-
tunities to work in the media themselves.

5 Conclusion

If we define a sense as a faculty of perceiving, as Websters 3rd International


Dictionary does while accepting the McLuhanian view of media as an extension of
man and a new manner of perception, then surely the media can be seen as a new
kind of sense. If the lack of a particular sense means the loss of one particular chan-
nel of information, then the development and utilization of the media sense can
legitimately be seen as a compensation for that information dearth. As with any
other sense organ, there may be problems and diseases with the media sense
vulnerability to media influence, as we have shownbut once these diseases and
problems get cured and solved, the new sense offers a clear, profound insight into
the multimedia world around us as well as a tremendous amount of novel opportuni-
ties. We cannot afford to let our standards slip in the area of special education, in the
face of todays increasingly multimedia world, which has so much to offer to our
disabled children.
The general aim of special education is to provide children having special needs
with the education necessary to help them develop their potential to the full, achieve
as much independence as they are capable of, and become well-adjusted individuals
in the community. Media literacy and information education work to help disabled
students understand how they are portrayed in the media through the decoding and
encoding of media messages. It also empowers them with a critical understanding
of their identity and representation in a confident manner. Through media produc-
tion, they can find their true voice to produce their own media messages, which will
give the general public a more realistic view of what disability is and could later on
help them pursue a career in the media industry as well.

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Using News Narratives to Learn About
Gender Ideologies in Contemporary China

Aditi Dubey-Jhaveri

Abstract This chapter examines the ideological construction of gender identities


in news narratives in China with a view to highlight the need for enhancing media
literacy in this field. Through an exploration of the intersection of journalistic and
gender ideologies, the chapter seeks to illuminate the role of media framing in
defining, establishing and reinforcing gender norms and roles in Chinese society.
Gendered frames, for instance, of motherhood or the primacy of breadwinner role,
allow journalists to simplify the complexities of the stories of men and women in
their private and public spheres. A detailed qualitative study of a corpus of 12 news
articles from China Daily using a textual analysis approach revealed that the news
texts primarily construct ideals of manhood and womanhood. Within a patriarchal
and hierarchical media, state and social structure, representations of hegemonic
masculinities persist in news narratives. With regard to women, it was found that, on
the one hand, voices of rural, migrant women were marginalised and, on the other,
urban or modern women were commodified as objects of mens desire in this age of
consumerism. These results call for critically minded, media-literate Chinese to pay
attention to the forms of transitional, as opposed to traditional, gender roles and
ideologies that are emerging slowly but steadily through the news media.

Keywords Media literacy Gender ideologies News narratives Chinese


society

1 Introduction

The purpose of this chapter is to study the representation of male and female social
actors in the online edition of the China Daily newspaper with the intention to iden-
tify gender ideologies and thereby inform a critical aspect of media literacy in
China. The study is premised on the understanding that one of the most difficult
tasks teachers face when teaching media literacy to school children is in convincing

A. Dubey-Jhaveri, Ph.D. (*)


Faculty of Arts, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong
e-mail: aditidubey129@gmail.com

Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2016 73


C.K. Cheung, Media Literacy Education in China,
DOI 10.1007/978-981-10-0045-4_6
74 A. Dubey-Jhaveri

them that society plays a large role in directing their behaviour and shaping their
lives. Chinese students brought up to recognise the importance of hard work and
imbued with values of meritocracy often view their behaviour as a matter of their
own choice and their life outcomes as congruent with their unique abilities and tal-
ents. This is particularly true for gendered behaviour because many students are
inclined to believe that differential roles in life for women and men are natural and
innate, i.e. due to biological differences, rather than as a result of social condition-
ing of human beings that takes place through various processes of socialisation.
Consequently, this chapter discusses the processes of gender role socialisation, the
formation of gender role ideologies, the role of media (especially newspapers) in
the reinforcement of prevalent gender ideologies in Chinese society and the ways in
which young adults in China can be made aware of these ideologies through media
literacy programmes, workshops or lessons.

2 Gender Role Socialisation

Theories of gender role socialisation assume that men and women receive different
socialisation (Bem 1993; Konrad et al. 2000). Generally, men are socialised into
believing that their essential role in life is to work outside the home and provide for
the family while women are taught that their main role is to be homemakers. The
assumption therefore is that men will internalise gender role expectations about
themselves and women will also internalise the expectations associated with femi-
nine gender role socialisation (Unger 1990; Wollman-Bonilla 1998). In addition,
according to gender role socialisation theory, every society prescribes appropriate
roles for females and males with varying sanctions for those who deviate from these
norms (Adomako Ampofo 2001). These norms are inculcated through socialisation
and are imbibed by the individual from early childhood. The gender role socialisa-
tion theory posits that different people and objects in the childs environment pro-
vide rewards and models that shape behaviour to fit gender role norms in a particular
society (Helgeson 2009).
Generally, socialisation agents in the environment encourage men to be agentic
and women to be communal so as to take up male and female gender roles. In many
cultures, boys are encouraged to be assertive and to control the expression of their
emotions. Girls on the other hand are socialised to express concern for others and to
control their assertiveness (Helgeson 2009). Thus, boys and girls learn to distinguish
female and male roles by watching the elders around them. These socialisation
agents usually enforce what is gender appropriate behaviour through the use of
rewards, sanctions and punishments (Nukunya 2003). These socialising agents,
which impact on the childs gender role attitudes, may include the childs environ-
ment, including parents, peers, teachers, instructional materials in school as well as
the media.
Using News Narratives to Learn About Gender Ideologies in Contemporary China 75

3 The Role of Media in the Formation of Gender Role


Ideologies

The media play a large part in the socialisation process, especially socialisation into
gender roles (Goffman 1979; Lindsey and Christy 1997; MacKinnon 1989; Strinati
1995). The media both reflect and reinforce traditional gender roles. Most people
realise that the images in the media often do not reflect reality. However, that does
not mean that these images are not influential. Newspapers, for instance, present a
microcosm of ideologies, values and beliefs from the dominant culture and fre-
quently reflect gender ideologies of people in a given sociocultural context.
Bwewusa (2008) points out that the newspaper has greatly accelerated the rein-
forcement of gender stereotypes in the society through their language of com-
munication (p. 9). In the process of framing the news or choosing a news angle,
journalists frequently use news language that is easy to understand and that easily
fits common stereotypes. This ensures that the reader gets the main message in a
quick and convenient manner, while for journalists the task of writing to gendered
frames is easier because it avoids the complexities in the story. Consequently, while
reading the print media, children and young adults cannot help but learn about cul-
tural norms, beliefs and social expectations related to femininity and masculinity.
Reading is part of the process of socialisation and an important mechanism through
which these gendered ideas and beliefs are transmitted from one generation to the
next. For example, children may use the gender scripts and ideologies in these
newspapers when they are role playing and forming an impression of the gener-
alised other and hence of femaleness and maleness (Bem 1981a, 1983; Mead 1934).
The literature affirms that many masculine and feminine characteristics are not bio-
logical at all; they are acquired. Gender schema theory, for instance, suggests that
youngsters develop a sense of femaleness and maleness based on gender stereotypes
and organise their behaviour around them (Bem 1981b, 1983; Eagly and Wood,
1999). By age seven, and perhaps as early as age four, children begin to understand
gender as a basic component of self, and later, socialising agents such as newspa-
pers become an important source of gender stereotypes that students use to emulate
the expected gender behaviour.
Since ideological messages about gender are embedded throughout culture and
reflected in almost all products of sociopolitical and economic institutions, includ-
ing media products, women and men invariably use them as standards of comparison
to make judgements about themselves and others. In other words, they can be seen
as practising gender ideology (Taylor 1988). Williams and Best (1990) define gen-
der ideology as ones beliefs regarding the proper roles for men and women, which
may be characterised as existing along a continuum from traditional to modern.
Those who hold traditional gender role ideology believe that mens and womens
spheres of work are different because men belong to the sphere of paid work outside
the home while womens sphere that of unpaid work at home (Hochschild and
Machung 1989; Levant et al. 2003). On the other hand, a modern sex-role ideology
discards the idea that there are distinctions between male and female roles and
76 A. Dubey-Jhaveri

believes in gender equality and flexibility (Barry and Beitel 2006). Egalitarian atti-
tudes or modern gender role ideology maintains that power and roles are distributed
equally between men and women and that women identify equally with the same
spheres of work as men (Barry and Beitel 2006; Hochschild and Machung 1989).
However, men and womens gender role ideologies regarding work (as well as in
other areas) have been found to be different, and these differences in perception
have been well documented in the literature (e.g., Panayotova and Brayfield 1997).
Men have been found to endorse more traditional attitudes, while women endorse
more modern attitudes towards gender roles (Barry and Beitel 2006; Chang 1999;
Whitley 1983). Yet, it is argued that most people have attitudes that lie between
traditional and egalitarian ideologies (Hochschild and Machung 1989). This led to
the identification of a third gender role ideology, known as the transitional gender
role ideology. According to this ideology, women can devote time to both work and
family domains but should hold proportionally more responsibility for the home
compared to men who should focus more of their energy on work. Thus, attitudes
towards men and womens role in society constitute an important aspect of gender
or sex-role ideology (Hochschild and Machung 1989).
With respect to mens and womens roles in society, in particular, the amount of
time they spend at home and outside, data reveals the determinants of married wom-
ens housework time in China (China Family Panel Studies 2010). Their time spent
on paid work and their absolute earnings were found to be negatively associated
with their time spent on domestic chores. This study also specifically examined the
impact of womens relative income on their time for housework. The literature in
this regard indicated that when women earned more than their husbands, they tended
not to reduce their housework time as their relative earnings increased, a phenom-
enon known as gender display. In other words, the wifes bargaining power for
housework with her relative income was constrained by the gender ideology. This
study found that there were urbanrural and regional differences in the effect of the
wifes relative income on her housework time. The results indicated that increased
relative income could help urban married women continuously reduce their house-
work time. However, for rural married women, the effect of relative income on
reducing housework time is limited by their transitional gender ideology, and the
gender display phenomenon existed.
Linking the survey data to the prefecture-level indicator of modernisation, this
study found that, in the rural areas, the effect of relative income on housework time
varied with the level of modernisation. Specially, the bargaining power of wifes
relative income in housework time was stronger when the rural areas were more
modernised. In contrast, the bargaining power was more limited in rural areas with
lower modernisation level, and gender display was more likely to exist. This goes
to show that gender ideologies are internalised as a system of signs or, in other
words, as a code. For example, women may do more housework than their spouses
despite working an equal number of hours outside home to engage in gender dis-
play and thereby conform to their expected gender role just the way they would use
cosmetics and certain styles of dresses to enhance their femininity in trying to emu-
late cultural standards of beauty.
Using News Narratives to Learn About Gender Ideologies in Contemporary China 77

4 Scales of Gender Ideology

Since the 1930s research on gender role ideology has led to the development of
many scales to measure concepts related to gender role ideology. Unfortunately, the
key concepts in this study as well as their measurements are still far from mature in
the west as well as in China. Among these scales, the four main ones are sex-role
belief scale (SRBS), sex-role ideology scale (SRIS), the attitudes towards women
scale (AWS) and the sex-role egalitarianism scale (SRES). The contents of these
scales reflect gender role ideology in areas such as family life, appearance, politics,
leadership, education, raising children and employment to name a few. Table 1 pro-
vides an overview of the four primary scales of gender role ideology developed so
far.
However, most of the above gender ideology scales are too broad and include too
many items to allow for a specific research design. Therefore, Davis and Greenstein
(2009) after reviewing ten nationally representative surveys that measured gender
ideology using at least two items, both cross-cultural and longitudinal, ended up
with a 34-item pool out of which they proposed a categorisation schema with six
items for measuring gender ideology. These six items, which still remain tentative
and debatable, include:

Table 1 Different scales of gender role ideology


Scale Underlying concept Construct Author(s)
SRBS Beliefs and attitudes Single dimension Kerr and
Sex-role belief towards the roles that Holden (1996)
scale male and female
should play in society
SRIS Ideology may be At least two dimensions Kalin et al.
Sex-role ideology described as liberal, (traditionalism and feminism) (1982)
scale modern, feminist or are included in practical
egalitarian or as application
traditional or
conservative
AWS Attitudes towards Three dimensions Spence and
Attitudes towards females role, rights Helmreich
women and responsibilities (1972)
SRES Attitudes towards the Includes two orders (formal and King et al.
Sex-role traditional and informal relationship) and five (1997)
egalitarianism nontraditional roles dimensions: marriage,
scale played by males and reproduction, employment,
females in marriage, interpersonal/intersex
birth, employment, relationship and education
interpersonal and
intersex relationship
and education
Source: Yang et al. (2013)
78 A. Dubey-Jhaveri

1. Primacy of the breadwinner role: beliefs about the man as the main breadwin-
ner of the family
2. Belief in gendered separate spheres: beliefs about men occupying the paid
work sphere and women the domestic work sphere
3. Working women and relationship quality: perceptions and ideas about the qual-
ity of a marital relationship when the woman works outside the home
4. Motherhood and the feminine self: beliefs about womans main role in family
or society as a mother or nurturer and the importance of other traits that empha-
sise her femininity
5. Household utility: beliefs about housework and/or its distribution
6. Acceptance of male privilege: beliefs congruent with the idea that boys or men
should enjoy a higher status in society and receive social, economic and political
benefits

5 Methods

The study uses Davis and Greensteins (2009) six items (as described above) as a
basis for conducting the textual analysis of gender-related articles focusing on
women to identify the gender ideologies in the online edition of China Daily
found during the week of 12 January 2015. During this period, gender-related arti-
cles with the following headlines were found on chinadaily.com.cn:
Changes in womens fashion (China Daily 3 January 2015d)
Parade of beauty at job fair (China Daily 14 January 2015f)
Sweet girls of Neijiang (China Daily 14 January 2015g)
Looking hot in the cold (China Daily 14 January 2015e)
TV drama hides assets of actresses (China Daily 3 January 2015i)
Girl copies TV character to score marks (China Daily 11 January 2015a)
Woman knelt down and pleaded with her son (China Daily 11 January 2015b)
Woman gives birth to five babies (China Daily 14 January 2015h)
Good looks earn free meal (China Daily 12 January 2015c)
Chinese singles: dilemmas in getting hitched (Wu and Liu 2014)
The price of Chinese marriage (Li and Meidong 2014)
Shopping for a mate means calculation (Zhou 2014)
A qualitative analysis of the above articles is conducted with the purpose to show
that media literacy can be acquired by students in China by learning how to unmask
gender ideologies in newspaper articles. Thus, one way of helping students learn
about how ideologies contribute to different gender roles and getting them inter-
ested in the issue is through qualitative analysis (Walzer 2001) of articles in the print
media.
Using News Narratives to Learn About Gender Ideologies in Contemporary China 79

6 Findings and Discussion

Over the years as Chinese society has undergone significant geopolitical and socio-
cultural changes, its gender ideologies have also reflected the changing times.
Confucianism has perhaps had one of the greatest impacts on the allocation of gen-
der roles in Chinese society. It stresses a hierarchical societal structure, which
assumes subordinates obedience to superiors and mens dominance over women
and children. These Confucian ethics developed a strongly patriarchal Chinese soci-
ety, which was strengthened in the feudal system in later years (Fairbank et al.
1973). Confucius maintained that only women and small children are hard to bring
up and women are more virtuous without education. Further, he asserts that Man
is honoured for strength while a woman is beautiful on account of her gentleness.
In Table 2, which provides a summary of the newspaper articles found in the
online edition of China Daily and identifies the gender ideologies within each of
these 12 gender-related articles published within the week of 12 January 2015, the
gender ideology emphasising womens gentleness can be clearly seen in news story
3 titled Sweet girls of Nanjing. Similarly, in story 4 titled Looking hot in the cold
that has a caption under the mens photo as male skiers try to prove the claim that
men are more tolerant of the cold than women while women skiers are shown in
various seductive poses highlighting their feminine prowess, the story highlights
mens strength and womens femininity.
Confucianism stresses consolidation of patriarchy by putting women at the bot-
tom of society. For thousands of years, as a result, Chinese women were virtually
excluded from the public sphere except to learn how to be good wives and virtuous
women to serve men well. Kristeva (1977) observes that Confucianism constitutes
a solid base for the construction of a rationalist morality with a strong paternal
authority and a complex hierarchy when Confucius put women in the same class
as slaves (p. 70). Even education embedded in such ideology is conducted in a
well-structured patriarchal world, in which power consolidates male dominance.
Women, henceforth, become silenced and invisible subalterns in the Confucian
paradigm. Despite the changes that have taken place as a result of interrogating the
Confucian gaze at women, traditional expectations of women are still rampant in
China today. Therefore, even in todays modern times, these ideologies are implic-
itly or explicitly reproduced in Chinese newspapers. Based on Davis and Greensteins
(2009) categorisation of gender ideologies, Table 2 shows that 11 out of 12 selected
news stories reflect the ideology of motherhood and the feminine self. All these 11
stories touch upon womens physical and behavioural attributes of femininity and
the importance of motherhood (stories 7 and 8) in womens lives or the relative less
importance of motherhood in some modern womens lives (story 10). One news
story (story 11) emphasises the acceptance of male privilege in the form of dowries,
thereby, as per Confucian beliefs, showing their higher status in Chinese society.
However, gender role expectations in China during the establishment of the
socialist system, and especially after the Cultural Revolution, changed dramatically,
particularly in terms of family and work roles in China. This illustrates that political,
80 A. Dubey-Jhaveri

Table 2 News articles and gender ideologies


News
headline News summary Pictures Gender ideology
1. Changes in Latest television drama A still shot of Femininity/feminine self
womens The Empress of China actress Fan
fashion removed from air due to Bingbing
revealing costumes that 15 pictures of
emphasised the cleavage ceramic figures and
of the female characters. paintings of women,
The story also provides their clothes and
background information make-up during the
on the changes womens different dynasties
fashion has gradually A picture of an
undergone from the Tang attractive, smiling
dynasty period until now modern woman
2. Parade of Attractive women face Smiling and Femininity/feminine self
beauty at job interview in Nanjing at an well-groomed
fair airlines recruitment fair women stand in a
for a flight attendant row with
tight-fitting shirts
with pictures
focus on an
attractive young
woman
Women stand in a
row in high heels
with only their legs
shown in the picture
Women wait for the
interview while one
puts on make-up
Smiling young man
with earphones
waits for the
interview with a
phone in his hands
A pretty girl grabs a
bite while waiting
A pretty young
woman smiles into
the camera
3. Sweet Sichuan province is Nine images of Femininity/feminine self
girls of renowned for beautiful beautiful young
Neijiang girls and Neijiang girls women in
have become especially traditional clothes
famous and feminine poses
highlighting their
grace and
slenderness
(continued)
Using News Narratives to Learn About Gender Ideologies in Contemporary China 81

Table 2 (continued)
News
headline News summary Pictures Gender ideology
4. Looking The No Pants Subway Six pictures of Femininity/feminine self
hot in the Ride that swept western girls in different
cold countries inspires seductive poses
Chinese girls to create a with their ski gears
cooler version of the and/or in the snow
attire. This was shown with their legs
during a commercial exposed
promotion at a ski resort One shot of men in
in Jiangsu province as 20 their shorts with the
models got their legs caption male skiers
out try to prove the
claim that men are
more tolerant of the
cold than women
5. TV drama A TV period drama Six screenshots of Femininity/feminine self
hides assets triggers heated debate the show with
of actresses after it was removed from three focusing on
air due to the low womens faces and
necklines displaying the other three
cleavages of actresses showing womens
cleavages
One screenshot of
the heroines
cleavage and part of
the top of the head
cut off in the new
version of the TV
drama
6. Girl copies Girl majoring in make-up Beautiful model Femininity/feminine self
TV character and costume design with make-up and
to score impresses her teacher by costume made to
marks preparing her model to look like heroine
look like a famous from TV drama
heroine The real heroine:
actress Fan Bingbing
as Empress Wu
Zetian
7. Man A young man tried to Picture of mother Motherhood
commits commit suicide in kneeling down
suicide, Liuzhou from the top of below the bridge
mother kneels the bridge after his
down to romantic relationship
implore went sour as his mother
knelt down and implored
him not to jump
(continued)
82 A. Dubey-Jhaveri

Table 2 (continued)
News
headline News summary Pictures Gender ideology
8. Woman Imagine the labour One of the Motherhood and the
gives birth to pain: a woman delivers newborns receives feminine self
five babies quintuplets in Shandong. special care in the
The chance of this is one hospital
out of 65 million
9. Good looks Restaurant offers free A young female Femininity/feminine self
earn free food to beautiful people customer scans her
meals in Zhengzhou. Customers face in front of a
have their faces scanned machine in the
and are judged by staff of hope of getting a
a plastic surgery clinic free meal in the
restaurant
Members of a plastic
surgery clinic judge
the faces of
customers
(continued)
Using News Narratives to Learn About Gender Ideologies in Contemporary China 83

Table 2 (continued)
News
headline News summary Pictures Gender ideology
10. Chinese Increase in the number of Picture of three
singles: Chinese singles due to young women
dilemmas in long-term solitude and displaying the
getting emphasis on economic Chinese Marital
hitched wellbeing and Love
Conditions Report,
which was
released in Beijing
Nearly 60 % of female Motherhood (deviance)
respondents do not intend
to have a second child,
11 % higher than their
male counterparts
Men care most about a Femininity/feminine self and
partners looks, health primacy of breadwinner
condition and romance roles
history, while women
take economic condition,
health condition and
occupation as priorities
71.8 % of female
respondents think men
should have a house before
getting into marriage, and
55 % of male counterparts
hold the same opinion
17.8 % of the female
surveyed believe car
ownership is a prerequisite
for a marriage, a dramatic
increase of 9 % from the
2012 report
Most respondents Working women and
perceive stable salary as a relationship quality
must-have for both
partners. More than 40 %
of singles want to marry
the one who has matching
conditions
(continued)
84 A. Dubey-Jhaveri

Table 2 (continued)
News
headline News summary Pictures Gender ideology
11. The price As entrepreneurs get rich, A wedding Acceptance of the male
of Chinese Chinese weddings are motorcade of privilege
marriage now often used to show classic British TX4
off wealth and opulent taxis drives along
dowries are new the street in
conventions, rather than Nanjing
traditions in places such
as Fujian provinces
Jiangsu city. With
dowries worth one billion
yuan, its joked that
marrying these golden
brides is better than
robbing a bank
12. Shopping The 2014 Chinese Couples pose for
for a mate Marriage Status Survey wedding photos
means Report shows that 44.4 % after a group
calculation of male and 49.7 % of wedding ceremony
female respondents said in Harbin after the
they would choose a International Ice
partner from a family of and Snow Festival
equal social rank
More than 70 % of Primacy of breadwinner
female respondents said roles
they would consider
marriage only if their
partner own a property.
And more than 70 % of
the women hoped their
future husbands income
would be double their
own. This phenomenon
has been characterised as
supermarket marriage
where people buy the best
products with the
money in hand. This
materialism in marriage
has replaced love and
parents decision as a
reason for choosing a
partner

economic or other dominant ideologies of the time strongly influence gender ide-
ologies too. Mao argued that times have changed, and men and women are the
same. Whatever men can do, women comrades can do as well. Here Maoism
attempted to defuse the power of patriarchy (19491978) through womens libera-
tion (women hold up half of the sky) by expounding that patriarchy was a major
Using News Narratives to Learn About Gender Ideologies in Contemporary China 85

reason for Chinas weakness. Women, like men, deserve the same access to educa-
tion and job opportunities. Accordingly, half the sky became a symbol of womens
improved social status in the socialist China. The political movement initiated
against Confucius in the early 1970s became the climax of Maoism versus
Confucianism. Under such circumstances, women were empowered to trouble the
conventional gender norms by redefining their roles and codes of behaviour in a
socialist context.
As per Table 2 (see below), Maos gender ideology is reflected in the following
sentence of story 10: Most respondents perceive stable salary as a must-have for
both partners. More than 40 % of singles want to marry the one who has matching
conditions. This shows that not only do young Chinese people want their partners
to work outside the home; they want to marry someone with similar earnings.
According to Davis and Greensteins (2009) category of working women and rela-
tionship quality, these couples believe that their relationship quality will be
enhanced if both partners worked outside the marriage and brought home a stable
income.
Beginning in the 1980s, the intervention of capitalist consumerism complicated
gender expectations and reframed gender codes of behaviour in China (Luo 2008;
Yang 2011; Yu 2014). Consumerism focuses more on femininity and beauty, for
instance, in the form of objectified beauty and youth capital. This commoditised
form of beauty and objectification of women can be seen in Table 2 in news stories
1, 2, 4, 5 and 9. While stories 1 and 5 prove that sex sells in the media, stories 2 and
4 objectify women for the male readers gaze by emphasising their youth, curves
and under clad bodies, respectively. Story 9 on the other hand draws attention to the
burgeoning plastic surgery industry, which is prompting women to use it to conform
to the beauty standards that they are held to in todays mass-media-infiltrated, com-
mercialised society. As a result, it can be seen that capitalist intervention has
impacted greatly on Chinese gender ideology.
Specifically, free flow of labour, goods and capital and the boom in information
and cultural signs and images have overwhelmed Chinese people with possibilities
to explore new landscapes beyond Maoism and Confucianism (Li 2005). Under
such circumstances, consumerism seems more an impulse of movement outward
towards the world, in keeping with the slogan zou xiang shijie (marching towards
the world). When China strives for its membership in global consumption culture,
almost everything has become commodified and takes on exchange values. Youth
and beauty are no exceptions. They have become a form of capital with which
young women can trade for the desired lifestyles by choosing from a well-off to rich
man for marriage (Yang 2000). This is abundantly clear in stories 10 and 12 in Table
2 in which young women expect potential partners to own a property and a car and
have a considerably higher income than their own. According to Davis and
Greensteins (2009) gender ideology category, these beliefs held by young Chinese
men and women are indicative of the male primacy of breadwinner role. Although
this may seem like a traditional gender ideology, in this age of consumerism and
neo-liberal, capitalist ideology, women can get plastic surgery done or buy skin-
care, slimming and anti-ageing products to look attractive and exchange their
attractiveness for a rich mans hand in marriage. Hence, news story 12 refers to
86 A. Dubey-Jhaveri

these marriages as supermarket marriages in which the man with the most money
can buy the best products.
The three different -isms clearly indicate a complex process of change in gender
codes and expectations in post-Mao China. Firstly, gender codes and expectations
started from imposing structural foot binding for women a symbol of virtue and
gender behaviour for centuries under Confucian eyes. Secondly, gender codes and
expectations modified themselves by eliminating foot binding in the name of liber-
ating women constitutionally in the Mao era. Lastly, the capitalist influence in the
post-Mao era put new restrictions on female bodies and duties. The process of
change demonstrates that womens liberation promoted by Mao is only limited lib-
eration within the patriarchal system. The interplay of the three -isms further com-
plicates Chinese womens social status and participation in social, economic and
educational activities. Therefore, the discourse of gender relations in China has
entailed one step forward, [but] two steps back (Thakur 1997, p. 34) and might be
dubbed as socialist-Confucian consumerism. Situated in such a context, therefore,
the study of gender ideologies cannot oversimplify any phenomenal facts of gender
relations. This also means that any media literacy programme should aim to analyse
gender ideologies in contemporary China as they are constructed in the patriarchal
system and complicated by the interplay of Confucianism, Maoism and, more
recently, consumerism in the post-Mao era.
Therefore, one component of a school-based media literacy programme can
include an analysis of daily newspapers which contain articles related to gender.
Students can perform a textual analysis of gender messages in the newspaper by
using a coding frame specifically developed for specific gender roles. Students then
read and examine the newspapers and record their findings, paying particular atten-
tion to characters and themes that are stereotypical in Chinese society. During the
coding process, students need to be informed that besides visual information, the
selection of the news topic and the language in the newspapers also sets the stage for
the development of particular gender-related behaviours and thoughts and enables
children/adolescents to acquire a social self (Mead 1934). When students read or
flip through newspapers, they are exposed to the cultural symbols signifying gender
roles in a particular sociocultural context. Given the assumption that language
shapes and conditions reality, then it might be useful to ask what students might be
learning about gender when they read newspapers. Consequently, as part of media
literacy programmes, students will be able to identify themselves as members of a
particular gender and think about the ways in which their gender beliefs have been
shaped and influenced by their consumption of newspapers.

7 Conclusion

Based on the above discussion, it can be seen that the media, and in particular news-
papers, have become a powerful means of shaping the perceptions of the masses and
have led to increased gender stereotyping and negative gender ideologies in Chinese
Using News Narratives to Learn About Gender Ideologies in Contemporary China 87

society. As socially constructed ideals of masculinity and femininity and male and
female roles are echoed in gendered frames of journalistic writing, the media
become instrumental in reinforcement of gender ideologies. And as these beliefs
and attitudes spread, society-allocated gender roles start to seem natural and gender
ideologies become common sense. Critical media literacy programmes focusing on
deconstruction of gender roles, stereotypes and ideologies can enable students to
question common sense and established beliefs and, gradually, to bring about a
much-needed change in gender role practice in China.

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Opportunities for Implementing Media
Literacy Education as an Obesity Prevention
Strategy in China

Yi-Chun (Yvonnes) Chen

Abstract This chapter discusses the importance of incorporating media literacy


into school and nonschool settings to combat childhood obesity in China. This
chapter begins with an introduction of the obesity epidemic and the rising medical
costs associated with obesity-related illnesses. The author then explains how food
marketing contributes to childhood obesity by discussing food advertising expendi-
tures, types of food advertising, and persuasive tactics used in food marketing to
attract childrens attention.
Although policies that restrict food marketing to children are strongly advocated
in the USA to combat childhood obesity, the author argues that such policy solu-
tions may not be easily adaptable in China due to a variety of structural barriers.
Indeed, lax food marketing regulations in China, coupled with a lack of regulations
that do not limit childrens exposure to food advertising, require integrating novel
approachessuch as media literacy trainignsinto obesity prevention. In China,
media literacy education has received burgeoning interests in school and nonschool
settings. It offers a potential solution to addressing the childhood obesity crisis by
asking critical questions to encourage reflections and by empowering children to
produce media messages to counter the impact of food advertising.
Modeling after evidence-based health-promoting media literacy interventions,
the author provides suggestions for media literacy strategies for obesity prevention.
Because advertising often reflects cultural values, the author also argues the impor-
tance of incorporating such values into the critical analysis of food advertising and
marketing activities.

Keywords Obesity Food marketing Media literacy China Cultural


dimensions

Y.-C. (Yvonnes) Chen (*)


William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications, University of Kansas,
1435 Jayhawk Blvd., Room 205C, Lawrence, KS 66045-7515, USA
e-mail: y.chen@ku.edu

Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2016 91


C.K. Cheung, Media Literacy Education in China,
DOI 10.1007/978-981-10-0045-4_7
92 Y.-C. (Yvonnes) Chen

1 The Obesity Epidemic in China

The obesity epidemic has become a global crisis. In Asia Pacific, childhood over-
weight (body mass index at or above the 85th percentile and lower than the 95th
percentile for children of the same age and sex) and obesity (body mass index at or
above the 95th percentile for children of the same age and sex) rates are rising at an
exponentially higher rate than any other regions in the globe. According to Wang
and Lobstein (2006), the number of overweight and obese Southeast Asia school-
age children rose from 12.1 % in 2002 to close to 20 % in 2006. The number contin-
ued to rise to a projected 28.2 % in 2010 (Wang and Lobstein 2006). A similar trend
was projected for school-age children in West Pacific (Wang and Lobstein 2006).
China leads the Asia Pacific region for the highest obesity rates in adults and
children. More than 28 % of Chinese adult men and 27 % of adult women are over-
weight or obese (Ng et al. 2014). The rate of obesity in children also is alarming.
This is of particular concern because children who are obese are more likely to be
obese as adults (Guo and Chumlea 1999; Freedman et al. 2005; 2001; 2009). Close
to one in five children under the age of 20 (18.5 %) are overweight or obese (23 %
for men versus 14 % for women) (Ng et al. 2014). A 2005 study examining children
living in large coastal cities also reveals a similar pattern (Cheng and Ji 2008).
Related health consequences from obesity include diabetes, cardiovascular dis-
eases, and cancers (Center for Diseases Control and Prevention 2012). In China, the
projected rate of Type 2 diabetescaused by dietary choicesis expected to rise by
75.5 % in the next 25 years (Yach et al. 2006).
Not surprisingly, increasing obesity rates come with staggering economic costs.
The costs will continue to escalate if obesity prevention and intervention are not
implemented. According to a systematic review of 32 articles, treating obesity-
related costs account for 0.7 to 2.8 % of a countrys healthcare expenditures
(Withrow and Alter 2011). In China, the medical costs of treating chronic illnesses
(e.g., stroke, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease) attributable to
overweight and obesity were about $2.74 billion or 3.7 % of Chinas national total
medical costs in 2003 (Zhao et al. 2008). All of these suggest an urgent need to
identify key obesity factors to help inform the design and implementation of child-
hood obesity prevention programs.

2 Food Marketing and Childhood Obesity

2.1 Food Advertising Expenditures in China

Marketing energy-dense and nutrient poor foods and products to children has been
systematically identified as a key contributing factor to childhood obesity. This fac-
tor has been studied extensively in the USA. With an estimated $1.8 billion spent
per year on marketing food products to children, U.S. children see approximately
Opportunities for Implementing Media Literacy Education as an Obesity Prevention 93

4,700 food commercials a year (or 13 food commercials a day) (Rudd Center for
Food Policy and Obesity n.d.). This figure, however, does not include food market-
ing on the Internet or promotions at schools, suggesting potentially more exposure
to food promotional activities among children.
Similar to the USA, the Asia Pacific region has seen a surge of food promotional
activities. A lack of regulation of food promotion in emerging markets, coupled
with an expansion of childrens television markets, provides the food and beverage
industry an unprecedented opportunity to market its products to the young and often
vulnerable population in the Asia Pacific region (Hawkes 2002; Consumers
International 2008).
This is particularly true in China where food products account for the largest
amount of advertising spending (China Media Monitor Intelligence 2008a). For
example, food products account for more than half of the advertising seen on televi-
sion (Zhang n.d.). Recent expansion to advertise in new media platforms (e.g.,
online, mobile advertising) allows the fast food industry to start using web-based
campaign to target consumers as well (China Media Monitor Intelligence 2008b).

2.2 What Children See in Food Advertising

To better understand what children see in food advertising, content analysis allows
scholars to explore the types of foods advertised and the appeals used to attract
childrens attention. Abundant research examining the content of food advertising
in the USA consistently reveals a pattern; that is, food advertising that appeared in
childrens programming often features high-fat, high-sugar products with very little
nutrient values (Cairns et al. 2013; Folta et al. 2006; Harrison and Marske 2005;
Henderson and Kelly 2005; Institute of Medicine 2005; Powell et al. 2007).
Compared to the number of available content analysis of food and beverage
advertising in the USA, however, there is relatively limited research done to exam-
ine such content in the Asia Pacific region. Despite this, limited evidence still
reveals similarities in content and types of products (core and noncore products)
advertised. According to a large-scale content analysis of food advertising in
Australia, Asia, Western Europe, and North and South America, noncore food
advertising (e.g., high in undesirable nutrients or energy) was heavily promoted
during childrens peak viewing times in China (Kelly et al. 2010). Additionally,
using food commercials recorded from three channels in six cities selected from
Asia Pacific countries (e.g., China, Indonesia, Malaysia, and South Korea), Kelly
et al. (2014) found that children were exposed to an overwhelming amount of food
commercials. In particular, more than one-fourth of the commercials were cen-
tered on food and beverage products (27 %). Within this category, sugar-sweet-
ened beverages (SSBs) are the most frequently advertised (Kelly et al. 2014). This
is of particular concern because SSBs are the primary cause of overweight and
obesity (World Health Organization 2003), particularly among Chinese boys
(Li et al. 2010).
94 Y.-C. (Yvonnes) Chen

2.3 Food Marketing Tactics

Food and beverage marketing tactics in Asia Pacific are similar to the ones used in
the USA, including the use of premiums (e.g., competition, giveaways, rebates, and
vouchers) and promotional characters (e.g., celebrities, sports figures, cartoon char-
acters, and spokespersons or branded characters) (Consumers International 2008).
In a report studying Asia Pacific food marketing, advertising (TV commercials with
celebrity endorsement and cartoon characters), promotional activities (e.g., offering
free toy with childrens meal, interactive websites, and childrens clubs that offer
activities, puzzles, and tips), competition (e.g., sports-themed competition), and
sponsorship (e.g., sponsoring sporting events in schools) are immensely popular in
countries such as Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Philippines,
Thailand, and Fiji (for an extensive review, see Consumers International 2008). It is
important to note that while these tactics are frequently used in noncore foods, Kelly
et al. (2010) found that advertising of core foods (e.g., nutrient dense, low in energy)
in China also uses promotional characters (49 % of the food advertisements sam-
pled) to attract consumers attention.
The burgeoning food marketing activities in Asia Pacific are a cause for concern
as the consumer behavior of young Chinese children starts at a relatively young age.
These young Chinese children also frequently purchase food and beverage products
(McNeal and Yeh 1997). Not surprisingly, McDonalds and Pizza Hut have capital-
ized on the opportunity to target urban Chinese children. A survey of Chinese urban
children and their parents found that children spend approximately 21 % of their
money on snacks (foods and beverages) (McNeal and Yeh 1997). These children
also have a significant influence on their parents purchase behavior. For example,
children ages 412 influence on average 78 % and 73 % of parents purchases of
candy and soft drinks, respectively. This, coupled with frequent exposure to
unhealthy foods with little or no nutritional values (Kelly et al. 2014), could rein-
force childrens requests of unhealthy foods.

3 How Food Marketing Contributes to Obesity

There is a well-established link between unhealthy food advertising and consump-


tion and purchase patterns, particularly among children (Dietz and Gortmaker 1985;
Robinson et al. 2007; Veerman et al. 2009; Zimmerman and Bell 2010). Cross-
sectional studies have established a significant association between childrens over-
weight status and the numbers of low-nutrient sweet and fatty food commercials
they watched (Lobstein and Dibbs 2005; Taveras et al. 2006; Wiecha et al. 2006).
Consumption of frequently advertised high energy-dense food (e.g., sweet baked
snacks, candy, fried potatoes, fast food, salty snacks, and sugary drinks) seems to
mediate the relationship between television viewing and total energy intake among
adolescents (Wiecha et al. 2006). For example, a household survey shows that
Opportunities for Implementing Media Literacy Education as an Obesity Prevention 95

exposure to food advertising aired on popular childrens television program predicts


childrens choice of food brands and their consumption of energy-dense food
itemsthat is, sugar-added breakfast cereals, sweets, snacks, soft drinks, and items
from fast food restaurants (Buijzen et al. 2008). Types of food consumed during
television viewing also are associated with weight status (Matheson et al. 2004).
Using a 24-h dietary recall, Matheson et al. (2004) found that sugary drinks con-
sumed during weekend television viewing were significantly associated with third
and fifth graders body mass index.

4 Solutions to Childhood Obesity

Given that food advertising significantly impacts childrens consumption of adver-


tised products and obesity, scholars have proposed and advocated for a number of
policy solutions (e.g., government statutory regulations or industrys statutory regu-
lation or self-regulation) in an effort to reduce childhood overweight or obesity
(Harris et al. 2009; Hawkes 2008).

4.1 Regulatory Approaches

Regulatory approaches tend to rely heavily on the governments regulation or the


industrys self-regulation and/or voluntary efforts to restrict unhealthy food adver-
tising to children. These policy recommendations stem from the belief that chil-
drens limited cognitive development makes them more vulnerable to the persuasive
intent of food advertising (Consumers International 2008; Harris et al. 2009). These
approaches can take place at the school, regional, government, and international
level to protect children from undesirable food marketing influences (for a compre-
hensive review, see Harris et al. 2009; Hawkes 2008).
Some international organizations, such as Consumers International and the
International Obesity Task Force, and the World Health Organization, even call for
a global standard to regulate food advertising content. For example, the proposed
standard from Consumers International and the International Obesity Task Force
(2008) recommends banning and restricting childrens access to unhealthy foods.
Specific recommendations include (1) banning radio and TV advertisements of
unhealthy foods between 6 am to 9 pm; (2) banning the use of new media (e.g.,
website, text messaging, and social network sites) to market unhealthy food to chil-
dren; (3) banning unhealthy food promotion in schools; (4) excluding free gifts,
toys, or collectible items, and (5) banning the use of celebrities, cartoon characters,
competitions, or free gifts (Consumer International 2008).
Not all countries are on the same pace with regard to food advertising regula-
tions, however. Some countries are ahead of the regulatory efforts. Sweden, for
96 Y.-C. (Yvonnes) Chen

example, has banned advertising to children altogether. In Norway, the government


leads regulatory efforts to restrict advertising on certain broadcasters. Some food
and beverage companies also volunteer to offer initiatives to self-regulate their own
advertising efforts. Global companies, such as Coca-Cola and Kraft, have restricted
their advertising to children under 12 and 6, respectively (Wiggins 2007).

4.2 Problems of Implementing Regulatory Approaches

Although regulatory approaches seem to receive strong support from evidence-


based research (Harris et al. 2009) and have been implemented in parts of the world
(Wiggins 2007), mounting implementation barriers still exist. In the USA, for
example, limited regulatory authority granted to government agencies could make
the implementations more difficult (Harris et al. 2009). Evidence also suggests that
the industrys self-voluntary efforts may fall short as the industry may find loop-
holes to target children through other childrens programming (Harris et al. 2013).

4.3 Why Regulation May Not Work in China

Traditionally, the Chinese government plays a pivotal role in food regulations and
nutrition labeling; yet, no current regulations specific to childhood obesity preven-
tion are available (Hawkes 2008). For example, none of the regulations reduces
childrens exposure to food advertising, despite having the State Food and Drug
Administration (SFDA) impose strict rules on health food advertisements since
2005 (Hawkes 2008).
Relying on the food or advertising industrys self-regulatory efforts may prove to
be difficult in China as well. For example, China Advertising Association, a national
advertising trade organization, does not actively monitor or handle advertising
complaints (CAA 2007), making it more difficult for the industry to self-regulate
its claims. Fortunately, the national media also take on the role of monitoring and
censoring deceptive advertising content (Mueller 2011) that could, perhaps, com-
plement the self-regulatory efforts from the China Advertising Association.
In China, overreliance on the government and trade organizations efforts to
regulate advertising content can be risky. On the one hand, this puts the burden on
the government and trade organizations when limited resources may hinder their
efforts to reduce childhood obesity in China. On the other hand, children may never
have an opportunity to develop a sense of awareness of how advertising messages
affect their attitudes toward the advertised products and their purchase intention. In
other words, developing media awareness skillsor media literacy skillsshould
Opportunities for Implementing Media Literacy Education as an Obesity Prevention 97

become a part of the childhood obesity prevention efforts to empower children to


advocate for themselves and make conscious decisions.

5 Media Literacy as Obesity Prevention Strategy

Media literacydefined as an individuals ability to access, analyze, process, and


evaluate media messages (Aufderheide 1993)has been applied to a variety of
health contexts. Media literacy education fosters healthy skepticism, nurtures reflec-
tive thinking skills by emphasizing the importance of understanding persuasive
intent, and motivates further critical analysis and evaluation. Activities often involve
analysis of the underlying purpose of advertisements, intended target audience, per-
suasive techniques, and content elements as part of the instruction intended to
enhance media literacy skills (Austin et al. 2006; Bickham and Slaby 2012; Chen
2013; Chen et al. 2013; Hindin et al. 2004; Pinkleton et al. 2012).

5.1 Existing Media Literacy Programs in China

Due to the prevalent unhealthy food marketing and lax marketing regulations, media
literacy education is arguably the best practice that can fill the gap in China. Media
literacy has gained interests in school and nonschool settings in China (Cheung and
Xu 2014; Lim and Nekmat 2008; Tan et al. 2012). In a primary school setting, for
example, Cheung and Xu (2014) found that media literacy was able to engage stu-
dents to reflect on their media use experiences. Students also engaged with their
parents on a number of media literacy-related assignments. They were able to share
with their fellow classmates about how different generations view media. Since
media literacy encourages personal reflections, students were not anxious to provide
the right or wrong answers so ingrained in the Chinese educational system (Cheung
and Xu 2014).
Media literacy education also takes place in nonschool setting in China through
children-oriented publications. Little Masters, a popular childrens magazine that
has now expanded to other communication channels (e.g., radio, television, and the
Internet), has an estimated 2 million children and adult readers. Its content is solely
produced by 20,000 student reporters under the age of 15. The publications goal
is to equip these student reporters with solid written communication skills, provide
them with an opportunity to interview significant political figures (e.g., Bill
Clinton, Britains Queen Elizabeth, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan,
etc.), and encourage them to cover a wide range of social issues. This helps student
reporters develop media production skillsa skill set emphasized in the definition
of media literacy.
98 Y.-C. (Yvonnes) Chen

5.2 Lessons Learned from Prior Nutrition-Based Media


Literacy Programs

Even though media literacy is still in its infancy in obesity prevention and nutrition
education both in the USA and China , its significant potential lies in its capacity to
help children and their parents mitigate the negative influences from food advertis-
ing exposure. Lessons learned from a limited number of nutrition-based media lit-
eracy programs with the U.S. population could shed light on what and how to
incorporate media literacy into obesity prevention in China.
Prior media literacy programs in the USA have attempted to improve a healthy
food environment at home by reaching out to young children and their parents
(Evans et al. 2006; Hindin et al. 2004; Tanner et al. 2008). These media literacy
education curricula are often designed with the behavior change theories (e.g.,
social cognitive theory, theory of reasoned action) (Ajzen and Fishbein 1980;
Bandura 1986) and evidence-based nutrition education in mind (Contento et al.
1995; Johnson and Johnson 1985).
Using a quasi pretest-posttest repeated measure experimental design, Hindin
et al. (2004) conducted a media literacy enhanced nutrition program with 35 head
start parents who have children ages 3 to 6. Parents received materials that offer
theory-based nutrition knowledge and skill-based trainings to motivate their likeli-
hood to discuss television commercials with their children and to compare food
labels against commercials. The training taught parents knowledge-based lessons
(e.g., food labels, food advertising analysis) and helped them explore ways to talk
with their children about food requests from the marketed products. Practice ses-
sions and homework assignments were offered to reinforce key concepts. Parents
knowledge of food advertising and likelihood of discussing food requests with their
children were increased as a result of the intervention. Comparing to the baseline
data, they also had positive attitudes toward discussing television with their children
and were efficacious about the parenting practices after the intervention.
Using children-produced media campaigns to influence parental support and fruit
and vegetable availability seemed to receive some positive results (Evans et al. 2006;
Tanner et al. 2008). Yet, behavior change is still a difficult subject to change between
the treatment and the control group despite a higher level of motivation to eat more fruit
and vegetables (Evans et al. 2006). Nevertheless, these studies highlight the role nutri-
tion-based media literacy could play in terms of changing the home environment by
persuading parents directly or indirectly through reaching out to their children.
Additionally, the recent work by Bickham and Slaby (2012) provided the first look of
how an integration of critical analysis can benefit fifth graders evaluations of unhealthy
food advertising and other violent and substance abuse content in the media.
Intervention participants had an increased understanding of the represented nature of
food advertising; that is, food advertising makes products look healthier than they actu-
ally are. Designing and implementing a media literacy intervention for children who
are heavily targeted by food commercials could expand on the previous inquiries.
To summarize, these programs targeted to parents and children mainly focus on
(1) offering parents the skills and knowledge to change the food offered in the home
Opportunities for Implementing Media Literacy Education as an Obesity Prevention 99

environment, (2) teaching parents and children to critically examine and enhancing
their understanding of the representative nature of food advertising, and (3) chang-
ing parents attitudes toward television advertisements and increasing their self-
efficacy of discussing television advertisements with their children. These behavior
change-based outcomes could be easily adapted to obesity prevention implementa-
tion in China to mitigate the influences of food and beverage marketing on parents
and childrens purchase and consumption behaviors.

5.3 Opportunities for Obesity Prevention Strategy in China

Given that media literacy education has taken roots in school and nonschool settings
in China, opportunity is ripe for making it as an effective obesity prevention strat-
egy. It is important to note that although media literacy education is not a part of the
formal school curriculum in China and needs to be grounded in specific contexts
(Tan et al. 2012; Wan and Gut 2008a, b), the rising threat of childhood obesity and
a lack of food advertising regulations strongly support nutrition-based media liter-
acy education. Media literacy education could be seamlessly integrated into classes,
such as literature and health and physical education. Media literacy education not
only benefits students understanding of the subject matter but also improves their
communication skills crucial in this day and age.
To implement media literacy education outside of the school system, educators
could partner with Little Masters, for example. With its potential reach of two mil-
lion readers, Little Masters and its companion website, radio, and TV programs may
effectively complement lessons implemented within the school settings. Specifically,
Little Masters provides a platform to encourage young student writers to produce
pieces that critically examine food advertising aimed at children. Collaborating with
parents on changing the food and beverage environment at home also is recom-
mended. Media literacy educators could train parents to communicate with their
children about their media consumption behavior and deconstruct food advertising
to reflect on the content, intended target audiences, and health consequences associ-
ated with purchasing and consuming the advertised food products.

5.4 Additional Strategies for Teaching Media Literacy

Prior research offers a glimpse of how effective media literacy programs designed
with strong theoretical underpinnings could successfully enhance knowledge and
critical analysis of food advertising among lesson recipients. Behavior change theo-
ries used in prior studies reinforce the value of media literacy as an effective strat-
egy in changing attitudes and behaviors. They, however, offer little to educators
interested in designing specific advertising analysis components in media literacy
programs.
100 Y.-C. (Yvonnes) Chen

The media literacy domains developed by Primack and colleagues (Arke and
Primack 2009; Primack and Hobbs 2009) could be used as a step-by-step guide that
allows educators to engage students by deconstructing food advertisements from
different layers of analysis. These domains are Authors and Audiences (AA, how
authors target specific audiences for profits), Messages and Meanings (MM, how
advertising messages contain values and points of views and use multiple produc-
tion techniques), and Reality and Representation (RR, the extent to which messages
omit health and nutrition information). Mastery of all three domains is necessary to
develop comprehensive media literacy skill sets. Specifically, the AA dimension
describes how authors create messages for profit (AA1) and target specific audi-
ences (AA2). The MM dimension focuses on how media messages contain values
and certain points of views (MM1), how messages are interpreted differently by
different people (MM2), how messages impact attitudes and behaviors (MM3), and
how messages use multiple production techniques (MM4). The last dimension, RR,
discusses how messages filter reality (RR1) and omit important health information
(RR2). Overall, these domains offer guided questions that educators could ask in an
obesity prevention program. The corresponding subdomains within each major
domain also allow educators to tailor their curriculum design based on the key
domains they would wish to cover.

5.5 Incorporating Cultural Values and Dimensions into Media


Literacy Programs

Although modeling after successful health-promoting media literacy programs


designed and evaluated with the U.S. populations may provide a foundation for
obesity prevention in China, adapting these programs to the context of China is not
without challenge. For example, even though children in both countries frequently
see unhealthy food products advertised, there is subtle difference in the appeals used
(Kelley et al. 2010). Additionally, cultural values reflected in food advertising may
be uniquely different, suggesting a need to carefully incorporate discussions of cul-
tural values into media literacy programs in China.
Indeed, cultural elements are frequently embedded in advertising practices
(Albers-Miller and Gelb 1996; Lin 2001). In a comparative content analysis of
Chinese and American advertising, Lin (2001) found that advertising in China de-
emphasizes individual and independence appeals. A similar result was found in
food commercials targeted to children with products featuring noodles, soft drinks,
salty chips, and gelatin products (Ji and McNeal 2001). Moreover, Ji and McNeal
(2001) found that popularity appealswhich represent a need to conform and save
face in Chinese cultureare more frequently depicted in Chinese commercials than
in American commercials. Chinese commercials targeted to children also are more
likely to be spokespersons and used as voice-overs (Ji and McNeal 2001). It is
important to note that there is a slew of influence of Western values that may have
Opportunities for Implementing Media Literacy Education as an Obesity Prevention 101

shifted how advertising mirrors Chinese culture, especially in products designed to


target younger generations and in magazine advertising (Zhang and Shavitt 2003).
Nevertheless, cultural values, more often than not, are represented in commercials
and should play a role in the analysis and discussions of media literacy programs
targeted to Chinese youth.

6 Conclusion

China is not immune to the global obesity epidemic. In fact, the country has one of
the highest obesity rates in the Asia Pacific region. The economic burden associated
with obesity-related illnesses will continue to escalate if obesity prevention pro-
grams are not implemented. Obesity prevention needs to start early. Theory-
based media literacy education that incorporates discussions of cultural dimensions
in food advertising has the potential to slow the obesity epidemic trend and empower
children and their parents to outsmart the food and beverage industry.

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Media and Its Influences on Adolescents
Identity in Hong Kong

C.K. Cheung

Abstract The mass media presents both risks and opportunities for young people,
affecting their development. To protect the youth who are at risk from the negative
impact of the mass media on their identity development, more research is needed to
understand which areas they are more easily affected by in order to develop targeted
interventions to protect them. A survey measuring personality and media practices
was carried out among high school students (N = 972) in Hong Kong. Based on the
results of the survey, participant values were content-analyzed for types of media
influences. A measure was calculated for each individual by comparing the results
of the personality values with participants reported media practices and influences.
The effects of various media on eight identity factors, personal growth, community,
gender role, health, beliefs, wealth, image, and social identity orientation, were
examined. Overall positive correlations between identity aspects, such as personal
growth, health, community, and social identity orientation and media values influ-
ences, were observed. Implications of the findings are discussed.

Keywords Media Adolescents Identity Personal growth

1 Introduction

The mass media presents both risks and opportunities for young people, affecting
their development. To protect the youth who are at risk from the negative impact of
the mass media on their identity development, more research is needed to under-
stand which areas they are more easily affected by in order to develop targeted
interventions to protect them. Furthermore, the mass media also has many positive
aspects and can be used to enhance adolescent education and empower young peo-
ple. Therefore, a better understanding of how to enhance media educations effec-
tiveness is needed to build up a healthy identity development among adolescents.

C.K. Cheung (*)


Faculty of Education, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong
e-mail: cheungck@hku.hk

Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2016 105


C.K. Cheung, Media Literacy Education in China,
DOI 10.1007/978-981-10-0045-4_8
106 C.K. Cheung

With a number of factors influencing adolescent identity, previous studies have


shown that there are multiple domains, such as social and cultural influences, which
contribute to the role of identity in adolescent development (Cheung 2004). Social
critics have argued, for example, that violence on television affects children by
teaching them that aggressive behavior is an acceptable if not normative means of
problem solving (Donnerstein and Smith 1997). Roberts et al. (2004) observed that
although we are not sure that exposure to messages about sex and drugs alter ado-
lescents behavior, repeated exposure likely affects their attitudes and beliefs. For
example, adolescents who watch a lot of music videos have more tolerant attitudes
toward sexual harassment (Strouse et al. 1994).
The ever-changing role of society can often be illustrated and sometimes even
developed by the media. Because of the growing amount of time adolescents in
todays culture are exposed to its contents, the mass media is now a highly influen-
tial force in society, and thus, social influences can now be used interchangeably
with media influence. There is overall agreement that these types of mass com-
munication do exert some influence on the development of young children and ado-
lescents (Caplow and Merton 1991; Singer and Singer 2001). This paper will discuss
some of the recent research on the negative and positive aspects of exposure to the
mass media that contribute to adolescent identity formation.

2 Past Media Research

2.1 Negative Aspects of the Mass Media: Image, Sexuality,


and Aggression

For young adolescents, exposure to mass media is correlated with negative aspects
including lower self-esteem, as well as high-risk behaviors involving sexuality, drug
and alcohol consumption, and aggression. Studies discussed below have shown that
exposure to the media has led to some negative aspects of body image among both
women and men. Previous research shows that media that are often favored by teen-
age girls often contain stereotypical messages about appearance, relationships, and
careers (Signorielli 1997). These media may send girls the implicit message that
relationships are more important for women than their occupations or careers.
Although appearance has been shown to be more important for women than men,
Schooler and Ward (2006) show that males are also affected by the media messages
concerning their body attitudes. Their study examined contributions of media to
mens body attitudes and how such attitudes relate to sexual decision making.
Results showed that regular media use was related to greater acceptance of the
shape and performance of ones body, but decreased comfort with aspects of ones
real body (Schooler and Ward 2006, p. 27). Frequent media use, however, may not
unilaterally predispose men to body image dissatisfaction to the same degree as it
does women.
Media and Its Influences on Adolescents Identity in Hong Kong 107

Sexual themes are unavoidable in the mass media, with the most common mes-
sages being men seeing women as sex objects. Messages are carried in most MTV
videos in the USA where men are seen as aggressive and dominant and women are
seen as the subservient objects of mens sexual advances (Roberts et al. 2004).
Exposure to sexually explicit materials in the mass media is therefore naturally an
important concern, as there is evidence that such exposure is related to greater sex-
ual uncertainty and more positive attitudes toward uncommitted sexual exploration
among youth in the USA.
Another danger of exposure to the mass media is the potential risk of aggressive
behaviors or thoughts. A study conducted among college students shows that those
who listened to a violent song felt more hostile than those who listened to a similar
but nonviolent song. Effects were replicated across songs and song types, suggest-
ing the potential role of lyric content on aggression in short-term settings (Anderson
et al. 2003).

2.2 Positive Aspects of the Mass Media

Todays media offers girls many positive role models such as independent women
who rely on themselves to solve their own problems. Women are shown to be self-
reliant, using their intelligence, honesty, and efficiency to achieve their goals. Teen
magazines also reinforce these messages by encouraging readers to rely on them-
selves and resolve situations in honest and direct ways. The dual role that the media
plays in womens lives is clearly illustrated. Signoriellis (1997) study on reflections
of girls in the media shows that while appearance is more important to girls, it also
indicates that media plays a role in reinforcing empowering messages to young
adolescents. Another study, conducted by Jennings et al. (1980), investigating the
impact of television commercials on womens self-confidence and independence of
judgment, showed what a positive power the media has. This study indicated that
women who were exposed to more nontraditional commercials were more indepen-
dent of judgment in a conformity test and displayed greater self-confidence when
delivering a speech. This also supports the hypothesis that commercials function as
social cues to trigger and reinforce sex role stereotypes, and even if women do not
buy advertised products, they are influenced by the implicit images conveyed by the
commercials. This in turn suggests that television commercials in which females
behave in a powerful way may be more effective in the long run than discussions
about gender role changes, giving much credit to the value of mass media on sex
role identity development.
108 C.K. Cheung

2.3 Mass Media Influences on Adolescents in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is no exception in the amount of influence that the mass media has on
the lives of adolescents. Different forms of media have penetrated into many house-
holds, and the level of consumption of media, especially television, radio, newspa-
per, and magazines, is very high among young people (Cheung 2007, 2012). With
the variety and vast amount of technology Hong Kong offers its society, adolescents
are open to all sorts of mass media influences, positive or negative, daily.
At present, for example, it is considered fashionable to communicate through
short message services through mobile phone devices, also known as SMS. The
large amount of influence SMS has over the population can be seen from an incident
that took place in Hong Kong on July 1, 2003, when many young people expressed
their dissatisfaction with the government by participating in a mass march involving
more than half a million people. With Hong Kong young people constantly being
criticized for being passive and indifferent to situations around them, it was surpris-
ing that so many young people, including secondary and primary school students,
participated in this demonstration. It was later found that the use of e-mail and SMS
had facilitated the spreading of news about the march (Cheung 2007). Another
example of the positive influence that mass media has been seen to have on young
people in Hong Kong can be found in Chans (1998) study on the use of mass media
and environmental knowledge. Chan found that there was a positive and linear rela-
tionship between students environmental knowledge and use of mass media, more
specifically, television news viewership. This shows that mass media is effective in
communicating positive messages it presents to young adolescents, influencing
their knowledge and views, and contributing to their development.
Although the mass media has a number of positive influences on adolescents in
Hong Kong as seen above, young people are also susceptible to the more negative
effects of the media. This can be seen in Cheungs (1997) study which examined
family, school, peer, and media as predictors of adolescent deviant behavior in Hong
Kong. In this study, a strong association between media and adolescent deviant
behavior was found. It was also observed that preference for violent/obscene con-
tent and imitation of media characters were significantly associated with deviant
behavior, which shows the impact that TV and other media have in reinforcing devi-
ant values and behaviors in adolescents with a deviant disposition. Because sex
education in Hong Kong has long been a controversial topic in homes and schools,
with both parents and teachers avoiding sensitive topics such as premarital sex,
contraception, and abortion, adolescents often turn to the media for information
regarding this topic. This information influencing the thoughts and development of
young viewers can often be misleading or incorrect when not discussed with parents
or teachers, illustrating the negative aspects that exposure to the wrong types of
media contents have on young adolescents.
Media and Its Influences on Adolescents Identity in Hong Kong 109

3 Overview

The present study aims to identify and pinpoint any specific traits that adolescents
take in and imitate from the various sources of media they are exposed to, incorpo-
rating it into their sense of self. Recognizing the positive and negative traits that
media has an impact on allows us in turn to understand adolescent development and
improve media education within a developmental context. Studying the medias
influences on adolescent identity within todays social context will also be advanta-
geous in improving the understanding of identity development, as well as develop-
ing functional educational programs. In other words, because the media is influential
in some way in the identity development of adolescents, it is important that educa-
tors and parents understand its role in the transition from adolescence to adulthood
in order to promote personal and social growth, in this way creating a coherent
sense of identity (Cheung and Liu 2012).
Development continues across a persons life span, and so, the stage-salient task
of adolescent identity formation proposed by Erikson (1968) is of critical impor-
tance because it is the selection of an identity that determines how one will eventu-
ally view the self and how one will interact with others in society. The media can be
seen as a positive and useful tool in introducing ideals and controversial as well as
challenging subjects to people, including students and young adults. Mass media
devices have become one of the most prevalent ways in which adolescents gather
information about their environment, including societal attitudes toward high-risk
behaviors involving sexuality, drug and alcohol consumption, and smoking. In the
present study, adolescents surveyed were exposed to the following media on a regu-
lar basis: books, Internet, magazines, mobile phones, movies, music, radio, televi-
sion, video games, and others accessible through various means, all affecting some
aspect of their identity development.
Identity itself has many components for which theorists have developed their
own functions and definitions. For example, Blos (1962, 1968) uses the term char-
acter to refer to what is denoted by many other researchers as identity; Sullivan
(1953) looks to interpersonal relationships to help explain the self; and Erikson
(1968) refers to identity as adolescents active search for their role, contemplation
of personal strengths and weaknesses, and simultaneous synthesis of past, present,
and future life experiences (Waterman 1988). Given all the definitions of identity
thus far, for the purpose of measurability, identity in this present study was broken
down to be defined as the composition and internalization or externalization of dif-
ferent components, such as personal growth, community, gender role, health,
wealth, image, beliefs, and social identity that are valued by adolescents. These
aspects of identity could then be divided into two categories: extrinsic (e.g., wealth,
fame, and image) and intrinsic (e.g., meaningful relationships, personal growth, and
community), all of which can be observed by the mass media present in todays
culture. Research has revealed that having strong relative aspirations for extrinsic
outcomes is negatively associated with mental health indicators, whereas placing
more importance on intrinsic aspirations has been found to be positively associated
110 C.K. Cheung

with mental health indicators (Kasser and Ryan 1993, 1996). Therefore, when eval-
uating a sense of identity, the value and internalization of meaningful relationships,
personal growth, and community mentioned above are factors to observe in deter-
mining a mentally healthy identity development in adolescents.
Not all adolescents are influenced by the media to the same degree. It is impor-
tant to remember that researchers have found both genetic and environmental influ-
ences accounting for personality (e.g., Rose 1988). It is possible for individuals to
inherit temperamental tendencies that can be observed earlier on in life and become
internalized into identity partially in response to the environment (Caspi 2000; Gest
1997; John et al. 1994), for example, a natural tendency to be socially active. This
suggests that there is a bidirectional link between individuals and the environment.
While adolescents differ in terms of reasons for listening to music and watching
television, they will also be influenced differently by the same media message due
to developmental factors including age, gender, as well as individual differences.
Another external factor which affects identity development is gender. For example,
studies have shown that girls in early adolescence are more vulnerable to an unsta-
ble view of their self-image than boys of the same age group. An adolescents social
class (defined by his/her parents occupations, education, and income) has also been
shown to be an important influence of identity development. Each of these individ-
ual characteristics (age, gender, class, etc.) plays a role in the cognitive processing
of media images and thus needs to be taken into account when studying the influ-
ence that the mass media has on the formation of adolescents identity in todays
society.

4 The Study

4.1 Procedures

A total of 2074 questionnaires were sent out to secondary students through teachers
attending the postgraduate diploma in education program at the University of Hong
Kong taught by the researcher, and 972 participants responded. The respondents
were from Hong Kong local schools, equally divided between the three bands of the
education system, with band 1 being the most academically prestigious. The ques-
tionnaire requested that participants provide demographic as well as quantitative
and qualitative information as openly and honestly as possible, based on their cur-
rent lifestyles and practices. The questionnaire collected demographic, as well as
quantitative and qualitative, information about each participant and his/her percep-
tion of the media. Participants were also told that the study was examining types of
media that appealed most to adolescents in society today to avoid any confirmation
bias.
Media and Its Influences on Adolescents Identity in Hong Kong 111

4.2 Participants

Of the 972 participants, 75.4 % were in form 3 and 4, with the majority aged from
13 to 15. There were more female participants (59.5 %) than male (40.5), which
potentially affected certain qualitative results of the study, such as the types of
media contents and the reasons for enjoying them.

5 Results and Discussion

5.1 Time Actively Spent on Media per Week and Types of Mass
Media Exposure

Because of the amount of time adolescents spend in the presence of mass media, the
impact of the media on teenagers behavior and development has been the subject
of much research. Table 1 shows the amount of time adolescents in this study
actively dedicate themselves to the media per week.
With the great variety of media present in our society, it is important to recognize
the specific types of media that young adolescents are exposed to and influenced by,
with the goal of facilitating healthy social influences, contributing to stable identity
development through more interesting and direct means, based on the preferences
of adolescents themselves. Participants of the study were asked what types of media
they were exposed to on a regular basis, and the results can be seen in Table 2.
The Internet, television, and music are the most popular forms of mass media
that adolescents of this study are exposed to. While the Internet, television, and
music can offer an unlimited source of potentially helpful influences (i.e., introduc-
ing healthy habits, challenging concepts such as different religious beliefs about the
world), they can also be potentially unlimited sources of harmful influences (i.e.,
introducing misinformation and the world of sex and drugs). The extent to which
the information is harmful or helpful to adolescents is not known. Current research
indicates that ego-identity achievement, the resolution of Eriksons adolescent-
stage conflict resulting in an established sense of self in middle school students, is
negatively related to pathological and extreme Internet use (Lei and Ma 2008;
Zhang et al. 2008). Other negative effects most commonly associated with Internet
addiction are related to academic studies (a drop in grades), family relations (having

Table 1 Time actively spent Percent (%)


on media per week
010 h 25.0
1120 h 18.8
2230 h 31.3
4140 h 14.3
40 h or more 10.7
112 C.K. Cheung

Table 2 Types of mass media exposure


Percent (%) Mean Sd
Book 66.2 .69 .692
Comics 28.3 .28 .451
Games 40.1 .40 .491
Internet 83.8 .84 .369
Magazine 63.2 .63 .483
Mobile 70.6 .71 .456
Movies 50.7 .51 .501
Music 78.7 .79 .410
Radio 22.8 .23 .420
TV 82.4 .82 .382
a
Others Car .4
Computer .7
Game Boy .4
a
As listed by participants of the study

to hide their excessive Internet use from parents), physical health (sleep deprivation
due to long hours of Internet use), mental health (depression), and finance (cost of
accrued Internet expenses) (Chou et al. 2005; Kraut et al. 1998; Tsai and Lin 2003).

5.2 Contents of the Mass Media

The mass media presents society with a wide variety of contents from informational
to reality programs to entertainment subject matter. It is important for young adoles-
cents to realize the contents of what they are exposed to, because these are the
materials that exert influence on identity development. For example, adolescents
who watch a lot of music videos have more tolerant attitudes toward sexual harass-
ment (Strouse et al. 1994). Participants of the study were asked what types of media
contents they were exposed to most often, including those that they chose not to
watch. The most regular and frequent subject matters they were exposed to are
shown in Table 3.
The type of media content that adolescents of this study were most exposed to is
under the category of reality. Arts, culture, and music were seen as the next most
exposed to category of contents followed by love and romance. Sex, controversial
topics, and violence and aggression were the contents shown to be the least exposed
to. Reality programs can often be used as means to explore different roles of iden-
tity. Reality contents introduce many possible identity alternatives to adolescents,
inevitably portraying some as desirable and others as not so desirable. Therefore,
danger arises when adolescents come to accept the ideas of certain roles without
first having questioned how these roles can potentially affect them. Thus, educational
programs such as media literacy education can be used as means to educate teenag-
Media and Its Influences on Adolescents Identity in Hong Kong 113

Table 3 Media contents


Percent
Frequency (%) Mean Sd
Arts, culture, and music 60.7 .61 .489
Controversial topics (religion, politics, etc.) 27.9 .28 .450
Fantasy/make-belief 44.1 .44 .498
Lifestyle 48.2 .48 .501
Love and romance 51.5 .52 .501
Reality programs 65.1 .65 .477
Relationships 32.4 .32 .469
Sex 16.5 .17 .373
Violence and aggression 28.3 .28 .452
a
Others Animal program .4
Cartoon .7
Documentary .7
Entertainment .4
News .4
Philosophy and cartoon .4
Science .4
Scientific fiction .4
Sports .7
Variety show .7
a
As listed by participants of the study

ers, allowing them to be free to make choices in what to believe based on their own
beliefs about the world instead of being blindly influenced, allowing for a healthier
social identity development.

5.3 Reasons for Media Choices

We asked participants of the study to think of some of the reasons why they admired
and spent time on the media programs, artists, and music of their choice. These
reasons are seen listed in Table 4.
Attitude, personality, and image were some of the most frequent reasons why
adolescents admired the celebrities and programs of choice, while political or reli-
gious views seemed to be overlooked by the majority. While more extrinsic factors
were considered important when it came to media preferences, personality, an
important intrinsic factor, was also seen to be highly valued by young adolescents
of the study. Research has revealed that having strong relative aspirations for extrin-
sic outcomes is negatively associated with mental health indicators, whereas placing
more importance on intrinsic aspirations has been found to be positively associated
with mental health indicators (Kasser and Ryan 1993, 1996). Therefore, when eval-
114 C.K. Cheung

Table 4 Reasons for Percent


enjoying media of choice (%)
Attitude 56.3
Background/biography 29.0
Career/fame 25.0
Fashion statements/image 54.0
Intellect 42.3
Lifestyle 34.2
Lyrics 47.8
Personality 52.9
Physical appearance 49.3
Political/religious views 10.3
a
Others All .4
Attraction .4
Character .7
Drama .4
Entertainment .4
Exciting .7
Fashion 1.1
Fashion and .4
talent
Knowledge .4
Laugh .4
Learn new .4
Movie .4
Outlook .4
Random .4
Singing 3.3
Skills .4
Talent 1.8
a
As listed by participants of the study

uating a sense of identity, the strong value for personality in these results suggests
potential mentally healthy identity development in adolescents.

5.4 Personal Identity vs. Media Values

When evaluating a sense of identity, the value and internalization of personal


growth, community, and gender role mentioned above are important to observe
when determining a mentally healthy identity development in adolescents. Through
a series of questions, participants completed two different sets of evaluations: one
exploring their own personal values and the second exploring the influence and
Media and Its Influences on Adolescents Identity in Hong Kong 115

Table 5 Personal values and media influences


Mean1 Sd1 Mean2 Sd2
Personal growth 4.09 .831 3.55 .91
Community 3.73 .869 3.18 .938
Gender 2.92 1.04 2.71 .982
Health 4.32 .762 3.1 1.002
Wealth 3.32 .985 2.7 1.046
Image 2.84 1.03 2.61 1.055
Beliefs 2.92 1.15 2.55 1.078
Social identity orientation 3.35 .959 2.94 1.027
Mean1/Sd1 = personal; Mean2/Sd2 = media

importance of those values in the media. Table 5 shows the comparison between
personal values and media influences of intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Personal
growth, community, and gender role can be seen as intrinsic values, while wealth,
image, and social identity orientation are regarded as extrinsic values.
Four main points can be observed from the results in Table 5, providing the most
insights into the correlation between adolescent identity and media.
The first important point to observe is the relatively high value of social identity
orientation that adolescents placed on their personal lives. Social identity orienta-
tion describes a sense of self within an individual that reflects more of an external
emphasis, based on interactions with and the reactions of others (Carducci 2009).
Adolescents who place a high value on this are relatively susceptible to having their
social identities influenced by others, such as the media. Examples of this are ado-
lescents placing importance on social behavior when meeting people (My social
behaviour, such as the way I act when meeting people) and observing how celebri-
ties present themselves in front of others (I observe how celebrities present them-
selves in front of others).
Because adolescents scored highly in this aspect in both sets of evaluations
(61 % from questionnaire part 1 and 33.8 % from questionnaire part 2 a relatively
high percentage of people compared to those that disagreed), a positive correlation
can be made to illustrate the influence media has on social identity orientation val-
ues and vice versa.
Another central observation to be made from Table 5 is the high value that ado-
lescents of this study placed on personal growth and community, both of which are
intrinsic values that have been shown to be important and strong indicators of a
healthy identity development and personal well-being. Research has revealed that
having strong relative aspirations for extrinsic outcomes is negatively associated
with mental health indicators, whereas placing more importance on intrinsic aspira-
tions has been found to be positively associated with mental health indicators
(Kasser and Ryan 1993, 1996). In the current study, personal growth and commu-
nity were most highly valued in both sets of evaluations. For example, adolescents
claimed in the first set of evaluations that it was important to grow and learn new
116 C.K. Cheung

things, and in the second set, adolescents agreed that I grow and learn a lot of new
things from various media.
This implies that while some intrinsic aspects such as personal growth and com-
munity contribute to a healthy identity development and are seen to be highly val-
ued, the media is also seen to contribute to the development of this aspect, illustrating
a dual role.
Next, the internalization of certain beliefs, such as beliefs about religion, God,
and other concepts that start to become more salient during the course of adoles-
cence, was not valued or seen as influential by adolescents in this study. This implies
that perhaps adolescents of this study are not yet aware of or simply do not value the
idea of the rationalization or commitment to certain beliefs at this stage of their
lives. Thus, they are subject to being blindly influenced by these ideological com-
mitments, affecting their identity development.
Finally, no value in Table 5 from this study is seen as higher in the second set of
media evaluations than in the first set of personal evaluations This implies that the
adolescents were either not aware of or simply did not look to the media more than
themselves when determining the importance of specific values in their lives con-
tributing to their identity and overall development.
The above results show significant correlations between many aspects, such as
personal growth, health, community, and social identity orientation, which imply
that media does in fact have an impact in these specific aspects on the lives of ado-
lescents of this study. However, one great problem in interpreting the studies of
media use and adolescent development is that it is extremely difficult to disentangle
cause and effect, because adolescents choose which mass media they are exposed to
(Roberts et al. 2004). It is also important to note that other factors, such as experi-
ences in the family or community, likely play a far greater role in serious violence
than does media exposure (Strasburger and Donnerstein 1999). Despite this prob-
lem, it can be inferred from the study that the media does play a significant role in
positively or negatively influencing young adolescents identity development.

6 Conclusion

As technology and media are becoming more integrated into the daily lives of ado-
lescents today, the media can be seen as a useful tool for introducing ideals, as well
as controversial and challenging subjects to society, including students and young
adults. The impact of these messages learned from the media can begin to become
more salient during adolescence, especially if the images are being discussed and
socially reinforced within peer groups. This study shows that there are certain types
of media content which exert a greater influence on specific aspects in the lives of
adolescents in Hong Kong compared to others. For example, the present study
shows that the value of community in the personal lives of adolescents positively
correlated to the value of community illustrated in the media of choice (both are
important), whereas although the value of health is not seen as important in the
Media and Its Influences on Adolescents Identity in Hong Kong 117

choice of media, it is the highest valued in the personal lives of the participants of
this study. This suggests that certain types of media content are not as influential as
others in the identity development of adolescents in Hong Kong.
Jennings et al.s (1980) study investigating the impact of television commercials
on womens self-confidence and independence of judgment reflects the positive
power that the media has on identity. Findings from this present study too show the
positive impact that the media has on identity values such as personal growth and
community. Along with these positive influences also comes the more arguably
negative or unhealthy impact seen in the value of social identity orientation, as it
reflects more of an external emphasis in adolescents.
The findings from this present study have obvious practical implications that can
be applied to develop and encourage the facilitation of healthy identity development
among adolescents in Hong Kong. Since media can be seen as a tool in facilitating
certain areas of healthy identity development, schools, parents, and teachers should
use these implications to their advantage. Media education, for example, is useful in
helping children to become more critical and informed and can be a starting point in
encouraging more healthy aspects of identity development in adolescents. It can be
used as means to educate teenagers, allowing them to be free to make choices in
what to believe based on their own beliefs about the world, instead of being blindly
influenced, allowing for a healthier social identity development.
Despite strong correlations and implications from this present study, it is always
difficult to determine causation between media and identity. For example, do ado-
lescents who value personal growth choose media programs which encourage it, or
do those media programs which emphasize personal growth facilitate this aspect of
healthy identity development? This question is one that can be explored in future
research, allowing the effectiveness, if any, for media literacy education on healthy
identity development in adolescents to be illustrated.

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School Initiative of Media Literacy Education
in the Context of the National Curriculum
Reform

Wen Xu

Abstract The chapter will unfold the school initiative of media literacy education
in a Chinese primary school. In the context of the national curriculum reform, media
literacy education became an alternative way for the school to conduct curriculum
innovation. By analyzing the tenet of the national curriculum reform and the prin-
ciple of media literacy education, it explains the confluence of these two factors for
the educational initiative, in which media literacy education is also a consistent
component of the schools educational philosophy. The reform provided an oppor-
tunity for media literacy education to be introduced in the school. The two
approaches of media literacy education were encouraged in curriculum reform,
which the school made use of to begin the independent media literacy education and
the integrated one. Through the changes in the reform and curriculum standards, the
school officially got support to promote its development through media literacy
education, particularly to make curriculum innovation. However, the school prac-
tice depended mostly on its own initiative, with the efforts from school leadership
and teachers.

Keywords Media literacy education Curriculum reform Primary school China

1 Introduction

Media literacy education in China has a short history in comparison with other
countries such as the UK, USA, and Canada. It went through three stages. The first
was an introductory period. Some scholars introduced the definitions and principles
of media literacy education (Bu 1997; Song 2000). In the second stage, theory
exploration was stressed much more than the practice (Zhang and Xu 2004).
However, the purpose of media literacy education at this stage was to protect stu-
dents from negative impacts of the media, and for this purpose, it was relatively easy
to get approval from teachers to practice media literacy education. In the third stage,

W. Xu (*)
Institute of Higher Education, Communication University of China, Beijing, China
e-mail: sunnyxuwen@gmail.com

Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2016 119


C.K. Cheung, Media Literacy Education in China,
DOI 10.1007/978-981-10-0045-4_9
120 W. Xu

both practice and theory emerged as being critical. Some studies, focusing on the
exploration of theory for media literacy education, have attempted to construct theo-
retical models for Chinese practice (Bai and Yan 2008; Lu 2010; Shao 2006; Zhang
2006).
Media literacy education mostly depends on personal interest or projects con-
ducted by particular organizations. The fixed agenda for curriculum and a lack of
trained teachers in Chinese schools blocked the development of media literacy edu-
cation. Media literacy education has been conducted in some Chinese schools, but
more effort is needed to establish its legitimacy in a broader context. Furthermore,
studies on school practice are insufficient. To address this need, the case selected for
this study was that of a primary school with long-term media literacy education,
which would offer a dynamic process from initiation to implementation in China.
The examination of media literacy education in a Chinese primary school in this
study will broaden the view from the perspective of a specific setting.
This study attempted to illuminate the beginning of media literacy education in a
Chinese primary school in the context of the national curriculum reform. Media
literacy education is an innovation in educational practice, and the qualitative case
study is a tool that helped the researcher to understand its dynamic process in a
specific setting. In order to obtain holistic pictures of the practice in the HZMHT
primary school, various sources of data collection were adopted, including observa-
tions, interviews, group meetings, and document analyses. These data collected
were cross-referenced for verification, and they provided rich information for the
researcher to explore the depth of a school practice from multiple perspectives.

2 The Background of the Primary School

The primary school in this study is a high-quality urban public school with a history
of over 80 years. It is located near the center of Beijing. The school is equipped well
with modern technology, including TVs installed in every classroom and a studio
for recording lessons and activities. During this study, media literacy education, as
an experimental course, was delivered in the studio most of the time. Occasionally
it was delivered in classrooms when the studio was not available. The studio arrange-
ment was well suited for group activities, with five to eight students sitting around
a desk. The students were familiar with the surroundings in the school and the tech-
nological application was commonly a tool to facilitate teaching and learning.

2.1 The Educational Philosophy of the School

Educational philosophy is used both in academic and in practical field. Here it refers
to the schools philosophy of education in practice. It can be defined as a way to
education that is based on the policies, planning and implementing of curriculum,
School Initiative of Media Literacy Education in the Context of the National 121

and school practice. The primary schools educational philosophy can be recog-
nized from the sculpture of a Chinese educator Tao Xingzhi and his words displayed
on the campus. The school complies with Tao Xingzhis educational philosophy,
which was influenced greatly by Deweys progressive philosophy. He believed that
school must connect closely to society. He argued that students should not be con-
fined by what the school teaches them and advocated life as education, society as
school, and the unity of teaching, learning, and reflective acting (Hu 2007). Tao
Xingzhis educational philosophy is used in the primary school to direct the schools
mission and is embedded in the school practice everywhere. The school principals
thought that media literacy education totally embodied life is education, being
connected closely with the students real lives from the point of view of school cur-
riculum development based on this educational philosophy (Du and Wang 2009).
Both Tao Xingzhis educational belief and media literacy education emphasize stu-
dents real lives with social development. From this point, the educational philoso-
phy underpinned the practice of media literacy education in this school. The students
were not limited to classroom learning and their media experience beyond the class-
room became an educational resource.
When media literacy education was introduced, it was acknowledged in the
school as being inseparable from the school discourse, including the technology
environment, educational philosophy, and the principals support mentioned above.
In this study, the media environment inside and outside school caused the princi-
pals determination to do media literacy education.

3 Media Literacy Education in the Context of Curriculum


Reform

Media literacy education was introduced to the school in 2008. The principal
thought that media literacy education would be good for both students and teachers,
since media were not only a part of the students lives but was also a part of the
teachers. She believed that teachers should study media literacy to catch up with
developments in technology. Teachers should know about their students out-of-
school media experiences, which had a great influence on their learning in school.
At the start, it was important to have top-down leadership for the educational inno-
vation. Cheung (2004) pointed out that continuous support from the school authori-
ties is critical for media literacy education to survive in a school. The principal was
in charge of the school development; therefore, her approval would be the driving
force to implement media literacy education in the school.
Furthermore, as the new technology is advancing speedily, educators have to
rethink the role of media technology in schooling and to improve the existing cur-
riculum to meet the requirement of a new technology era. Media literacy education
began to get legitimacy in formal schooling in some countries and regions (Cheung
2009). It is difficult for the development without any official support. Hence, the
appeal for the support from the national curriculum reform would be a channel to
develop media literacy education.
122 W. Xu

3.1 The National Curriculum Reform as an Agent for Media


Literacy Education

The basic education curriculum reform was set out in 1999 in China. The existing
curriculum was criticized as isolating students growth from social development.
The new curriculum reform mentioned that the curriculum should be comprehen-
sive and pragmatic. The curriculum management system was also suggested at three
levels: national, local, and school-based curriculum (The State Council of PRC
1999). In 2001, the Basic Education Curriculum Reform (Trial) and Curriculum
Standards of Eighteen Subjects were issued by the MOE. There were many changes
compared with previous curriculum guidelines. The new curriculum guideline was
more flexible. In the curriculum policy, media literacy education was not mentioned
officially. However, there were important related items that could facilitate the
implementation of media literacy education. For example, the following could be
found from the Basic Education Curriculum Reform (Trial) (MOE 2001a):
To make more integrated curriculum, particularly in the primary school, and to
change the situation of subject-based study
To change the difficulties, complexity, partialness, and oldness of curriculum
content, to reduce the emphasis on the textbook knowledge, to strengthen the
connection between curriculum content and students lives and social and tech-
nological development, to focus on students interest and experience, and to
choose basic knowledge and skills necessary for students lifelong learning
To conduct a national, local, and school curriculum system and make the curricu-
lum fit the local schools and students better
The first aim proposed the adoption of an integrated curriculum in primary
schools in order to avoid students learning the fragmented knowledge and separated
subjects in the lower grades in basic education and changed the subject-oriented
teaching and learning, which had been the main track of the original curriculum
framework, to the learning as a whole. To achieve this, schools are encouraged to
develop their own school-based curricula, based on the local social-economic status
quo, traditions or advantages, and the students needs and interests (MOE 2001a).
The MOE formulated policies on curriculum and determined the subjects and class
hours. It shouldered the duty to supervise the practice of the national curriculum
standards and executed new curriculum evaluation systems. The schools responsi-
bility was to exercise the national and local curricula and choose and develop cur-
ricula appropriate to the school context. That provided a great opportunity for the
development of media literacy education in the school context.
In the new National Curriculum Standards of Eighteen Subjects in China, the
expansion of literacy was visible to include media either as a learning tool or as a
learning object. The national curriculum reform and curriculum standards offered
an official support for media literacy education when it was still developing as an
educational innovation. In the curriculum reform, specialists, scholars from institu-
tions of higher education, and teachers in primary and secondary schools were
School Initiative of Media Literacy Education in the Context of the National 123

encouraged to involve in the textbook reform for basic education. It opened the door
for scholars in universities to go into the schools and develop collaborative studies.
These highlighted items from the official documents facilitated the development of
media literacy education in the primary school. The Table 1 showed the connection
between the reform and media literacy education.

3.2 The Objective of Media Literacy Education in the Primary


School

The general aim of media literacy education is embedded in its definition. It aims to
cultivate students ability to access, evaluate, analyze, and communicate media in a
variety of forms (Aufderheide 1992). However, this definition is too general to
direct teachers in a real setting. In the primary school, the objectives of media lit-
eracy education were:
To help students understand media and make them realize the relationship
between media and economy, politics, and social culture
To help students get information from various channels and analyze media mes-
sages from different perspectives and to foster better learning attitudes toward
media and popular culture
To help students express themselves freely through media and to get familiar
with the skills of using media (Zhang 2008)
The objectives were the intended learning outcomes and they were also the
guidelines for the practice. In order to reach the objectives, the conceptual under-
standings were classified as media language, representation, audience, industry, and
access and expression, which formulated the curriculum framework (Table 2).
These points were described in details in the curriculum framework, correspond-
ing with those in Western discourse, although they were expressed in different ways.

Table 1 Related elements of the national curriculum reform with media literacy education
Related elements of the national Media literacy education in the primary
curriculum reform school
School-based curriculum As an educational initiative in the form
of a school-based curriculum
Integrated curriculum Across multiple subjects to do
integrated curriculum
Collaboration between scholars, To collaborate with a team from the
specialists, and teachers university
Textbook reform To publish materials to supplement the
school-based and integrated curriculum
124 W. Xu

Table 2 The conceptual understandings of media literacy education in the primary school
Conceptual
understandings The specific objectives of media literacy education refer
Language To know media language and conventions in representation,
To understand media genre and how media narrative makes
meaning, and
To understand media techniques and apply them
Representation To recognize stereotype in media,
To compare the difference between media presentation and reality,
and
To analyze the value and ideology in media
Audience To reflect personal media behaviors,
To understand the negotiation between individual and media text,
To know the meaning of audience in the commercial context, and
To know the terminology in advertisements and their social-cultural
meaning
Industry To know the relationship between media industry and media
production
To know the ownership of media industry and its power on media
text, and
To know the difference between public and private media
Access and expression To understand the meaning of citizenship,
To access various media,
To become active audiences, and
To advocate privacy in media and free expression

3.3 Media Literacy Education in Response to the National


Curriculum Reform

An examination of the changes in curriculum reform and the aim of media literacy
education were found to share the same ideas for students development. In curricu-
lum reform, there was much emphasis on the students real lives and interests, while
media literacy education focused on students media culture and their interest to
media technology. The curriculum reform advocated integrated curriculum in the
primary school and changed the subject-based study. It attempted to change the
isolation and segmenting of knowledge in the lower grades. However, for teachers,
it was still a challenge to change the subject-based teaching to an integrated
approach. By nature, media literacy education advocated an interdisciplinary
approach, which indicated that topics related to media could be integrated with
every potential theme in existing subjects. In traditional literacy, reading and writ-
ing were required in every subject including language arts, math, science, social
studies, and so on, and it was the same with media literacy. Wan (2006) addressed
the nature of integration between media literacy and other subjects by showing
classroom practices that could enable teachers to make connections across content
areas by teaching with media and about media. From this point of view, media
School Initiative of Media Literacy Education in the Context of the National 125

literacy education could realize the integrated curriculum that was encouraged in
the national curriculum reform.
As mentioned above, media literacy education was also taken as a school-based
curriculum. For the school, it became an alternative way to construct school-based
curriculum under the background of the national curriculum reform. As for how to
make use of the national curriculum reform to begin media literacy education, the
principal said:
In the past, there were several reforms, but the curriculum reform this time improved a lot.
The most important thing was that there were autonomous lessons. We could have 16 %-17
% autonomous lessons for our own school. It requested the administrators to provide stu-
dents with good lessons that had benefits for the students development. We called it school-
based curriculum. The textbook for the school-based curriculum is not a must, but I wanted
to take advantage of this chance to promote my school holistically. Since media literacy
education is still new, we explore it while we do it. We hope we can provide some experi-
ence and suggestions to our educational policy.

With the promulgation of the Compulsory Education Law of the Republic of


China (PRC) in 1986, efforts for educational reform were mainly concentrated on
reorganizing the educational structure and adjusting educational management sys-
tems. The changes at the school level did not gain much attention, but the Communist
Party of China Central Committee and the State Council jointly promulgated the
Decision on the Deepening of Educational Reform and the Full Promotion of
Quality Education in 1999, which mandated changes in educational structures, sys-
tems, aims, curricula, and methods to meet the needs of social development (The
CPC Central Committee and The State Council 1999). Since then, the national cur-
riculum reform has begun to make changes at the school level. As the principal
mentioned above, the Basic Education Curriculum Reform (Trial) in 2001 prag-
matically provided more power for the school to construct its own curriculum. The
principal is empowered with more flexible leadership. She wanted to develop a
school-based curriculum to satisfy the students requirements and social develop-
ment. She could not anticipate what the practice would be like at the beginning and
did not know where media literacy education might lead in the future. However, she
thought it was indispensable for students in the digital age, and she wanted to
explore something new beyond the traditional teaching and learning.
Media literacy education aims to explore students media culture beyond the offi-
cial textbook. It matches the aim of curriculum reform, which requires changes to
the difficulties, complexity, partialness and oldness of curriculum content and to
change the emphasis on textbook knowledge (MOE 2001a). The national curriculum
reform encouraged schools to address students development by adopting knowl-
edge and skills beyond the existing textbook. It did not require textbooks for school-
based curricula. Media literacy education goes beyond students textbook knowledge,
and it can be regarded as an extended field for existing subjects. McClure (2001),
Share (2009), and Zhang (2006) agreed that media literacy is an extension of tradi-
tional literacy. The principal stressed that the textbook for school-based curriculum
was not necessary which was helpful for a new teaching and learning area. Media
literacy education in the primary school brought about some teaching materials,
126 W. Xu

especially the curriculum design; these were not taken as a form of textbook. The
curriculum design was based primarily on different types of media or themes such as
games, advertisements, and TV dramas. The curriculum content tried to take full
advantage of the students prior media knowledge and experience. In addition, stu-
dents were expected to explore new knowledge actively, and teachers could deliver
the content creatively with reference to these teaching materials. Teachers could
select topics from the material or supplement other themes in which they felt inter-
ested. They investigated more topics and related themes to design their own teaching
plans for students.
The principal and teachers in the primary school were aware of the significance
of media literacy in a digital world. They would like to explore the educational
innovation with scholars from the university. When the researcher asked about the
relationship between curriculum reform and media literacy education, the teachers
usually answered from the perspective of their teaching subjects. What they talked
about most was the fast-changing media environment and the significance of media
literacy education in schooling. One teacher even mentioned that media literacy
education should be not only for students but also for all citizens surrounded by
media. Another teacher who taught information technology thought that media lit-
eracy education strengthened the connection between existing curriculum content
and students lives and social and technological development. Media literacy educa-
tion focused on the students interests and media experiences, which were necessary
for their lifelong learning. After integrating media literacy into information technol-
ogy, she said:
Media literacy education explores some teaching content that benefits students life-long
learning with curriculum standards. I think media literacy education can help achieve the
curriculum standard and it is good for students life-long development, which conforms to
the rationale of curriculum reform.

This teacher also studied media literacy education while she taught it. In the field
study, there were many chances for the researcher to talk with her besides the formal
interview. According to her understanding, media literacy education could promote
the existing curriculum to achieve the curriculum standard in the curriculum reform.
The researcher found that the more the teacher practiced, the more she understood
the relationship among curriculum reform, the existing curriculum, and media lit-
eracy education.

4 Media Literacy Education as a School Initiative

There are three main reasons for the primary school to begin media literacy educa-
tion. First, students media culture influences their learning in school, and teachers
have to understand students real life in a digital age. Second, the educational phi-
losophy in this school is in accordance with the theoretical requirement behind
media literacy education. Third, the national curriculum reform provides policy
support for this educational innovation in a primary school. By analyzing the
School Initiative of Media Literacy Education in the Context of the National 127

objectives of curriculum reform and media literacy education, it is noted that the
principle for curriculum reform and this educational practice is in common.
Therefore, it is inevitable for the school to begin its curriculum innovation with
media literacy education. The practice not only promoted school development in the
context of the national curriculum reform but also involved teachers in the primary
school to make changes in their teachings.

4.1 School Promotion via a Grassroot Collaborative Project

The school experienced an exploratory way to make use of curriculum reform to


develop a school initiative. In return, the school developed media literacy education
to respond to the curriculum reform. Because of the educational management hier-
archy in China, schools were following the state policy strictly. The school had
limited power to introduce any curriculum innovation before the national curricu-
lum reform in 2001. In particular, since the curriculum was exploratory, the school
was cautious about the practice. This was why the principal mentioned several times
that she was shouldering a great pressure in taking up this educational innovation.
Pungente et al. (2005) mentioned that media literacy education should be a grass-
root movement and gain legitimacy in the process of movement. In China, it was
assumed that it would be easier to carry it on in the school if the centralized govern-
ment had accepted media literacy education. It was difficult to initiate an educa-
tional innovation in the school without official support. The primary school,
therefore, took advantage of the national curriculum reform to promote the school
comprehensively by practicing media literacy education. The school did not follow
the national curriculum reform passively. When the state stressed that the local cur-
riculum, school-based curriculum, and integrated practical activities should occupy
1620 % of all class hours (MOE 2001b), the school implemented school-based
media literacy education, highlighting students lives and the media culture. Media
literacy education solved the issue about how to take the students media culture to
the classroom and relate it closely to the social development. The students media
environment was changing while the school lagged behind in responding to the new
situation and was still focusing on literacy studies with printed media. The practice
in the primary school became an active movement to connect students media expe-
riences with traditional schooling in the digital age. It was also an alternative way to
prepare and empower students social lives. The school fully showed its expectation
for students growth and its ability to have a grassroot activity from its own base.
Besides top-down educational reform from the government, grassroot educa-
tional initiatives by schools and the university-school collaborative projects could
also make changes to the school curriculum. Media literacy education in this school
was implemented not only as a school initiative but also a collaborative project
between a university and the primary school. This kind of project was commonly a
long-term collaborative inquiry between university scholars and school teachers in
one or several schools or in several school districts. It was referring particularly to
128 W. Xu

projects concerned more with school improvement, starting from one educational
theme such as curriculum and then extending to holistic strategies for school pro-
motion. In this primary school, media literacy education was not an innovation
required by the national curriculum reform. However, the school initiated it to pro-
mote school development, combining the educational philosophy of the school and
the objectives of the curriculum reform. The teachers in the primary school collabo-
rated with the university researchers to do the practice and theory exploration. This
was a grassroot school initiative with efforts from both the teachers and the univer-
sity scholars.

4.2 The Effort from the Principal and Teachers


for Curriculum Innovation

An educational innovation such as media literacy education requires that teachers


take great initiative in their practice and then lobby for it (Pungente 1996). Several
teachers in this primary school adopted media literacy education through the inte-
grated curriculum. They observed the practice of media literacy education and were
eager to know more about it. Therefore, the team organized teacher-training work-
shops for the teachers. For those who thought they had already integrated media
literacy into existing subjects, the training made them practice it consciously and
skillfully. Those who never practiced before could get some basic ideas and skills to
do so. Lake (1994) suggested that it was better for the school to make gradual
changes and to make sure that the participants committed to the changes in the pro-
cess of moving from a traditional and subject-centered curriculum to an integrated
one. The principal encouraged the teachers to integrate media literacy education
into their teaching subjects to promote their professional development through this
educational innovation. Some interviewed teachers did not recognize the connec-
tion between media literacy education and their professional development at the
start. However, media literacy education promoted their teaching skills, which could
be observed when they participated actively in some seminars or conferences to
demonstrate their integrated approach. The teachers who practiced integrated cur-
riculum attentively not only told the researcher how they did this but also summa-
rized their thinking and practices in teaching plans and research papers. When they
met others doing media literacy education as they were, they were motivated by the
chance that it provided them to direct the school and classroom to a place where
students voices were valued and respected, where schooling was connected with
students lived experiences, and where students could be confident to express them-
selves with a wide variety of media technology (Hobbs 2004).
The principal and teachers participated actively in media literacy education, but
the role of educational administrators outside school was also significant.
Educational administrators manage and supervise schools in the educational sys-
tem. Once did they understood media literacy education, it was easier for the school
School Initiative of Media Literacy Education in the Context of the National 129

to get official support. When the researcher began the field study, the school was
getting support from some educational administrators in the course of practice. The
team and the principal joined in a seminar for the principals and educational admin-
istrators to discuss the curriculum construction. The curriculum practice in primary
school was selected as an example to some representatives in the seminar. In addi-
tion, the principal sometimes invited the educational administrators to sit in the
lessons and asked for suggestions. Outside school, the principal and teachers advo-
cated media literacy education, which also gave it more attention in the educational
system.
As a grassroot initiative, the practice involved much effort from the school itself.
To gain official support, the role of the principal became critical. The principal, the
teachers in the primary school, and the educational administrators outside the school
were brought fully into play for the development of media literacy education. The
effort not only promoted the curriculum practice in the primary school but also
influenced other schools. This suggests that, particularly at the initial stage, the col-
laborative effort among the principal, teachers, research scholars, and educational
administrators is necessary.

5 Approaches of Media Literacy Education in the Primary


School

5.1 As an Independent School-Based Curriculum

Considering the students cognitive development and media experience, the princi-
pal and the team from the university agreed to have media literacy education for the
senior primary students. According to Piagets (1969) four stages of cognitive level,
the fifth and sixth graders should commonly be at the concrete operational or formal
operational stages. At these stages, they typically begin to understand symbols
related to abstract concepts which, according to the team members and the princi-
pals understandings, made it feasible from a cognitive perspective to study media
literacy. Piagets concept of schema pointed out that students learn new knowledge
with schema in which their existing knowledge is related. The more knowledge they
have beforehand, the easier and faster students acquire new knowledge. However,
there were numerous academic requirements for the sixth graders and no additional
time available for them to study media literacy, since they were preparing to go to
secondary school. Ultimately, media literacy education was determined as an inde-
pendent curriculum targeting at fifth graders. The assumption for fifth graders was
that they already had a lot of prior media experience and these experiences would
provide a better basis for media literacy education.
The school arranged one lesson for each class every week for the course. Each
theme would take one to three sessions/lessons, depending on the students interest
and performance. For the first trial, the course consisted of 15 lessons for one semes-
130 W. Xu

ter in total and then extended to 30 lessons in an academic year, with 15 lessons per
semester the year later. More topics were involved in the curriculum and some spe-
cific themes required more sessions. The team from the university was in charge of
the curriculum design and delivery.

5.2 As an Integrated Part Across Multiple Subjects

After media literacy education had been practiced as an independent school-based


curriculum, some teachers began to integrate it into their teaching subjects. At first,
teachers were not familiar with the concept and rationale of media literacy educa-
tion. When it was delivered as a school-based curriculum, they were encouraged to
listen to this course. Some teachers told the researcher that they were overwhelmed
by the idea of media literacy education before they listened to the class and talked
with the team. When they began to know media literacy education gradually, several
teachers thought that the integration actually existed in their teaching or that there
was potential for integration in practice, but they had not known that there was a
specific term called media literacy education.
Four subjects were integrated with media literacy education. They were informa-
tion technology, math education, moral education, and integrated practical activi-
ties. In the real situation, the integrated curriculum was not only confined to the
subjects mentioned above. It could also be integrated into other subjects according
to Western experience.

6 Conclusion

This chapter has mainly analyzed how the school initiated media literacy education
in the context of the national curriculum reform. The reform provided an opportu-
nity for media literacy education to be introduced in the school. Through the changes
in the reform and curriculum standards, the school officially got support to promote
its development, particularly to make curriculum innovation. However, the school
practice depended mostly on its own initiative, with the efforts from school leader-
ship and teachers. The two approaches of media literacy education were encouraged
in curriculum reform, which the school made use of to begin the independent media
literacy education and the integrated one.

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Integrating Media Literacy Education into
the School Curriculum in China: A Case
Study of a Primary School

C.K. Cheung and Wen Xu

Abstract With the changing media environment, media literacy education begins
to be an emerging field in China. This research is a case study on how media literacy
education is implemented in a primary school. It is shown that the implementation
is consistent with the national curriculum reform, and with the full support of the
school, university teachers are called upon to collaborate with the teachers from the
school. They designed the curriculum and taught in different lessons. The results
showed the success of implementing media literacy education as an integrated com-
ponent of different subjects, namely, ethics and life, mathematics, information tech-
nology and integrated practical activity.

Keywords Media literacy education School curriculum Integration Primary


school China

1 Introduction

People nowadays learn what is happening around them through the radio, televi-
sion, newspapers and Internet. The impact of the media has been particularly pro-
nounced on children. As technology continues to develop, children at an early age
are exposed to media messages. Today even a 3-year-old child is able to turn on the
TV and sit in front of it for hours. Postman (1982) discussed the disappearance of
childhood in the 1980s, and Buckingham (2000) lamented the death of childhood in
the turn of the millennium.
What can be done when the mass media exert such a great influence on young
people? There has been a call for media literacy education to be implemented in
primary education (Craggs 1992; Cheung 2005). Australia has mandated media
literacy education from kindergarten through twelfth grade, while in Finland, media

C.K. Cheung (*)


Faculty of Education, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong
e-mail: cheungck@hku.hk
W. Xu
Institute of Higher Education, Communication University of China, Beijing, China

Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2016 133


C.K. Cheung, Media Literacy Education in China,
DOI 10.1007/978-981-10-0045-4_10
134 C.K. Cheung and W. Xu

literacy education was included in the official curriculum as a cross-curriculum sub-


ject at the primary school level in the 1990s (Tuominen 1997; Kupiainen 2010). In
Asia, media literacy education becomes more and more important and gained its
recognition in the curriculum (Cheung 2009). Could this also happen in China?

2 The Arguments for Implementing Media Education


in the Primary Curriculum

2.1 The Increased Use of Media and Technological Advances

A study of young people in 12 countries by Livingstone and Bovill (2001) showed


that the media shape the meanings and practices of young peoples everyday lives
and childrens access to and use of both traditional media and digital media have
drastically increased. The trend continues to be worrying. Todays kids in the USA
spend around 8 h a day consuming mediawatching TV, listening to music, surfing
the Web, social networking and playing videos (Common Sense Media Research
Study 2013). The trend is similar in the UK (Oxform 2014). In the case of China, it
has the largest number of children viewing TV in the world. In addition, the quantity
of Internet usage is increasing. In 2012, the number of netizens in China reached
564 million (CNNIC 2013). Among these, secondary school students spent 9.5 h
per week on the Internet, and primary school students spent 5.7 h per week (CNNIC
2011).
Exposure to the media has now become the primary learning route for most stu-
dents, supplanting traditional formal education. The media portrayal of society has
become the constructed reality perceived by children, affecting their values and
ideologies. Television, film, songs and MTV have become the storytellers for our
generation; these stories define our identity, our beliefs and our values in life.
Many people are worried about the influence of media on children, particularly
in view of the dramatic advances in technology. Besides the traditional mass media
such as television, radio, films and newspapers, digital media such as the Internet
and mobile phones are widely used not only in companies but also at home.
Advanced technologies are also breaking down the traditional boundaries between
telecommunications, broadcasting and computing. It is therefore necessary for peo-
ple to understand what messages the mass media produce and how they are influ-
enced by these messages.
This is a difficult task for educators, but it is our responsibility to encourage stu-
dents to decode media messages and question the values, both obvious and hidden,
behind media messages. Several studies demonstrated that primary students were
already able to critically evaluate television programmes and advertising contents
(Roberts et al. 1999; Alvermann et al. 1999; Cheung 2005; Chang et al. 2011). It is
thus the responsibility of educators to make use of media literacy education to pre-
vent the further exploitation of children by the media.
Integrating Media Literacy Education into the School Curriculum in China: A Case 135

2.2 Media Literacy Education as Motivation in Childrens


Learning
2.2.1 Motivational Learning

Students are motivated to learn things that are important and meaningful to them.
As learning is a goal-oriented activity, the task for teachers is to involve students in
the search for meaning and importance in learning materials so that the journey
towards the goal becomes a pleasurable experience. Furlong and Maynard (1995)
mention that teaching materials should be something that students can relate to
and be within their interest level. Students should be able to see that the activity
is useful to them. Since children are exposed to media messages regularly, teach-
ers can make use of examples of media messages in a teaching context, so that stu-
dents find a need to learn and have something to achieve. The use of media messages
in teaching creates an environment that enhances learning. When students see that
their own experiences are reflected and the work they do meets their needs, learning
is more likely to occur (Cheung 2004b).

2.2.2 Developing Media Pedagogy through Media Literacy Education


Lessons and Media Production

Media literacy education requires an approach very different from the traditional
chalk-and-talk method. Students are encouraged to find information through the
encoding and decoding of media messages and by engaging actively in media pro-
duction to become critical viewers of the media. In media education, the main focus
is on child-centred learning, which requires a media pedagogy that encourages
investigation and critical and reflective thinking on the part of students. Children
learn how materials and knowledge are selected and constructed for media texts.
They have to ask questions to help them clarify issues that have value
implications.
Learning by doing is important as students are encouraged to explore learning at
a deep and meaningful level. Media production provides a platform for students to
immerse themselves in learning through exploring and doing. Frechette (2002)
states that media production is vital to all pedagogy: Just as it is necessary for
pupils to learn to write as well as to read, it is invaluable for teachers to allow stu-
dents to produce media texts as well as deconstruct them through their own voice,
ideas, and perspective (realizing of course the partial subjectively from which these
voices emanate) (p. 114).
Media educators believe that media production is a desirable form of media lit-
eracy education (Buckingham 2007; Peppler and Kafai 2007). Media production
gives students a sense of satisfaction when products are created. The traditional
mode of learning, in which teachers delivered knowledge in a dialectic manner, has
changed. Students can now hold the digital camera, or sit in the control room to
136 C.K. Cheung and W. Xu

operate the panel, and feel that they have some control over what they learn.
Furthermore, as the syllabus does not set limits to the scope of media education,
students have the flexibility to explore, thereby discovering further learning oppor-
tunities (Cheung et al. 2011).

3 The Development of Media Literacy Education in China

There have been three stages in the development of media literacy education in
China. The first was an introductory period, in which scholars introduced the defini-
tions and principles of media literacy education (Bu 1997; Song 2000a, b). In the
second stage, theories of media literacy education were stressed much more than its
practice (Zhang and Xu 2004). The purpose of media literacy education is to protect
students from the negative effects of the media, so it was relatively easy to get teach-
ers to agree to practise media literacy education. In the third stage, the present stage,
both practice and theory are seen as equally important. While the process of theory
exploration is still going on, scholars prefer to carry on the practice of media liter-
acy education and conceptualize the theory from the practice. During this stage,
theory exploration has begun to diversify, with scholars studying media literacy
education from different theoretical perspectives (Li and Ban 2009; Lu 2010; Yang
2011).
There are several ways in which media literacy education is practised in China.
First, it can involve a collaborative project between primary or secondary schools
and universities, as in the case of this study. In such a collaborative project, scholars
design the curriculum for school teachers, or school teachers and scholars do it
together. Scholars supervise the practice of media literacy education and offer
teacher training for school teachers. However, there has been little research on the
practice of media literacy education in schools. Second, some teachers voluntarily
practice media literacy education in their everyday teaching, combining media lit-
eracy with existing subjects. Third, some organizations (mainly those concerned
with child and youth development), like the China Childrens Press and Publication
Group (CCPPG), have designed media literacy programmes to involve childrens
participation in media production.
In China, media literacy education mostly depends on personal interest or proj-
ects conducted by particular organizations. Although media literacy education has
been implemented in some Chinese schools, much effort is needed to establish its
legitimacy in a broader context. Some studies focusing on the theory of media lit-
eracy education have attempted to construct theoretical models for media literacy
education in China (Bai and Yan 2008; Lu 2010; Zhang 2006). These scholars have
designed media literacy education curricula and evaluated the effectiveness of these
curricula in practice (Liu and Chen 2011). However, studies on the practice of media
literacy education in schools are insufficient. There is a need for investigations into
the interactive process of teaching and learning of media literacy in schools. To
address this need, we conducted a case study to examine the practice of media lit-
Integrating Media Literacy Education into the School Curriculum in China: A Case 137

eracy education in a primary school in China. The school selected for this study was
a primary school with a long history of media literacy education, as it offered an
example of a dynamic process from initiation to implementation of media literacy
education in China.

4 The Case Study

The implementation of media literacy education in the HZM primary school is con-
sistent with the national curriculum reform, which provides an opportunity for the
development of media literacy education. As a result of changes in management
structure and curriculum standards, the HZM primary school receives official sup-
port to promote its curriculum innovation through media literacy education, which
in turn is a response to curriculum reform. In this case, the curriculum practice is a
result of collaborative efforts between a university and a primary school. With the
endeavour of teachers in the HZM primary school and the team members from the
Communication University of China (CCU), media literacy education was imple-
mented both as a school-based curriculum subject and as an integrated component
of multiple subjects.

4.1 The Background of the Primary School

The HZM primary school is a high-quality urban public school with an eighty-year-
old history. It is located near the centre of Beijing in a traditional hutong neighbour-
hood. The school is well equipped with modern technology.
Most of the students involved in this study lived in this district and were very
familiar with the hutongs around them. The teacher designed a topic for sixth grade
students on hutong culture. The aim of this was to give the students some systematic
knowledge about life in the hutongs through inquiry-based learning, which was
what integrated practical activities involved. This topic required the students to
carry out a field study by going around the hutongs. The lesson involved exploring
hutong culture around this primary school.
Different groups found information about the hutongs through various media
such as newspapers, video recordings and pictures. In the final presentation, the
students submitted their reports in the formats of newspapers, drawings, photo-
graphs and videos made by themselves. They shared their understanding by present-
ing their final assignments in various forms.
The teacher combined media literacy education with integrated practical activi-
ties. The elements of media literacy were reflected in how the students recorded and
represented hutong culture through media according to their perceptions. By using
media to collect, record, organize and present what they wanted to express, students
138 C.K. Cheung and W. Xu

were using their abilities to access, evaluate, analyse and communicate media in a
variety of forms.

4.2 Data Collection Procedures

The methods of data collection used in this study included observations, interviews,
focus groups, group meetings and document analyses. Specific information con-
cerning these methods is listed in Table 1.
By using these methods, the researcher was able to examine the practice of
media literacy education from different perspectives. The students were the focus
of classroom observation, and class activities indicated directly how media liter-
acy education was practised. At the end of semester, the researcher organized a
student focus group to elicit students perceptions of studying media literacy.
Another focus group, comprising parents, was arranged to collect information
about the students media experiences and feedback on the practice. One of the
researchers interviewed the team, the school principal, and some teachers, some
of whom practised integrated media literacy education and some of whom did not.
The purpose of these interviews was to learn how the interviewees understood the
practice and how some of them practised it. One of the researchers joined in the
group meetings every week to gain insights from the discussions with the team
members. In addition to using these methods in the field, the researcher reviewed
related documents such as curriculum materials, videos, teaching plans and offi-
cial documents for data triangulation.

Table 1 Methods of data collection


Methods Sources Remarks
Observation School and classroom practice 45 lessons in total (15 lessons
for each class)
Interview Teachers and team members 12 teachers and 6 team
members
Group meeting Team members 4 members
Focus group Students and parents 8 students and 7 parents
Document Official documents, curriculum
analysis materials, teaching plans, etc.
Integrating Media Literacy Education into the School Curriculum in China: A Case 139

Table 2 Media literacy education across multiple subjects


Identifiers Original subjects Integrated themes Grades
KX Ethics and life Rational shopping Second
YY Mathematics education Cartogram and life Fourth
LXY Information technology Magic flash layers: to be a director Fourth
HJ Integrated practical activity Beijing hutongs Sixth

4.3 Media Literacy Education as an Integrated Part


across Multiple Subjects

The subjects most devoted to media literacy education in the HZM primary school
were moral education, information technology, mathematics and integrated practi-
cal activity. These four integrated curricula were analysed as examples to show how
media literacy education was combined with existing subjects (Table 2).

5 Results

5.1 Moral Education

The use of media literacy education in the teaching of moral education is supported
by Cheung (2007). Media are a part of students lives, and their characters and
morality are influenced by it. Both media literacy education and moral education
relate to students daily lives. When the researcher interviewed several teachers in
the HZM primary school, they thought that media literacy education should connect
with moral education. One teacher stated:
Since media literacy education is a kind of life education, it goes well with moral education,
which is also based on students lives. Although they differ from each other, both of them
focus on life. Media literacy education is a form of life education. Ethics and society really
match with media literacy education. Ethics and society focuses on life, while media are
also a part of our lives, so they are naturally the same. (HJ)

When media have a stronger influence on students daily lives, the content of
moral education has to be updated to meet the requirements of a modern society.
The combination of the two can contribute to satisfying this requirement.

5.2 Mathematics Education

The media provide many opportunities for students to apply mathematics by select-
ing and judging data or information; therefore, it is possible to integrate mathemat-
ics with media literacy education. Wan (2006) noted that many topics are covered
140 C.K. Cheung and W. Xu

by media related to problem-solving mathematics questions such as statistics, audi-


ence rate, graphic displays and other related scientific studies. In this case study, the
school-based media literacy curriculum had already involved mathematics educa-
tion coincidently. When the students studied advertisements, they were introduced
to a new term, audience rate, and were asked to calculate the audience rate for
media programmes, which referred to the study of percentage in mathematics.
Regarding the elements of media literacy in the integrated curriculum, the teacher
who taught this lesson stated:
I compared this integrated lesson with pure math teaching. Students know the advantage of
using cartograms in various ways by comparing different media from the perspective of
collecting and analyzing information. It impressed students much and the atmosphere in the
classroom was very lively. At the same time, they also got to know the characteristics of
words, images, and newspapers. (YY)

She thought it was helpful to incorporate media literacy education into mathe-
matics by taking students lives and interests into consideration. Another mathemat-
ics teacher tried to teach an integrated curriculum by connecting the new curriculum
standard with media literacy education. She said:
I think the new teaching plan for math is very impressive. It requires teaching to be based
on students life experiences and practice. It should come from students lives and serve
their lives. I think it is very helpful to direct teachers teaching from this angle. Students
now live in a media-saturated world and when I integrated media literacy into math., their
learning motivation was aroused. (SWW)

5.3 Information Technology Education

According to the Ministry of Education (MOE) in China, information technology


education aims to promote students interest and awareness, their understanding and
mastery of basic knowledge and skills concerning information technology and their
knowledge about the development of information technology and its role in every-
day life and scientific methods. The goal of information technology education is to
develop students ability to access, transmit, process and apply information; to
understand the related cultural, ethical and social issues through the use of informa-
tion technology; to be responsible for using information and to develop information
literacy in order to use information technology as a means to facilitate lifelong
learning and collaborative learning and to lay the necessary foundation to acclima-
tize themselves to the information society for study, work and life (MOE 2000).
The objectives of information technology overlap quite a lot with those of media
literacy education. For example, both information technology education and media
literacy education involve understanding culture, ethics and social issues through
the use of media technology. They also require students to be responsible for infor-
mation delivery and to make use of information technology.
When media literacy education was introduced into this school, some teachers
doubted whether it was the same as information technology. Later, with help from
Integrating Media Literacy Education into the School Curriculum in China: A Case 141

the team, the teacher who taught information technology recognized the differences
between media literacy education and information technology. Based on her own
practice and study, she said:
The integration between media literacy education and information technology was natural,
but it expanded the original lessons. For example, when I taught flash layers, I had to deliver
one more lesson to integrate media literacy into information technology. I offered the stu-
dents more time to practise making flash layers by themselves and to make them be direc-
tors in the classroom activity. The students explored how to make a good flash and present
a good story via flash. This required a process of exploration and self-learning. (LXY)

The integrated curriculum stimulated students motivation and collaboration in


the classroom. The teaching content became richer, and students were more engaged
in the activities. This also motivated the teacher to keep on practising media literacy
education.

5.4 Incorporating Media Literacy Education into Integrated


Practical Activities

Integrated practical activity is a compulsory subject in primary schools, which


stresses students awareness of exploration and creation. Students study scientific
methods and develop the ability to use knowledge comprehensively. Since the
school and the teachers have the power to decide the teaching content of this sub-
ject, the study of integrated practical activities is more flexible than some other
subjects. In addition, integrated practical activity is an activity-based curriculum,
which is designed around students life experiences and community issues.
Most of the students involved in this study lived in this district, and they were
very familiar with the hutongs around them. The teacher designed a topic for sixth
grade students on hutong culture, with the aim of giving the students some system-
atic knowledge about life in the hutongs through inquiry-based learning, which was
what integrated practical activities advocated. This topic required the students to do
a field study by going around the hutongs and exploring hutong culture around this
primary school.
Different groups found information about the hutongs through various media
such as newspapers, video recordings and pictures. In the final presentation, the
students submitted their reports in the formats of newspapers, drawings, photo-
graphs and videos made by themselves. They shared their understanding by present-
ing their final assignments in various forms.
The teacher combined media literacy education with the integrated practical
activity. The elements of media literacy education were reflected in how the stu-
dents recorded and represented hutong culture through media according to their
perceptions. By using media to collect, record, organize and present what they
wanted to express, students were using their abilities to access, evaluate, analyse
and communicate through media in a variety of forms.
142 C.K. Cheung and W. Xu

6 Discussion

Most of the interviewed teachers in the HZM primary school indicated that they
preferred to incorporate media literacy education into existing subjects rather than
teaching it as an individual subject, particularly since it was still an educational
initiative. In the first place, as media literacy education was at its initial stage and
needed more exploration for teaching and learning, some teachers felt it would be
difficult to teach media literacy as an independent course. They mentioned that they
lacked the energy and academic support to teach media literacy as a separate, indi-
vidual subject. In the second place, since media literacy education was not con-
cerned with specific knowledge and skills, according to some teachers
understanding, integrating it into existing subjects benefited both the subjects and
media literacy education. An integrated curriculum was strongly encouraged in the
curriculum reform; even if teachers did not choose media literacy education as a
component of the integration, they had to integrate other subjects or materials with
their teaching subject if they planned to follow the national curriculum reform.
Integrating the curriculum had become an alternative way to promote the curricu-
lum in this school
Whether conceptual understanding of media literacy education could be realized
in the integrated curriculum was a critical issue. In a school-based independent cur-
riculum, conceptual understanding can be realized in teaching and learning.
Teachers in this study understood that an integrated curriculum did not simply mean
a combination of two domains of knowledge. The important thing for the teachers
in implementing an integrated curriculum was to know clearly the educational
objectives for both existing subjects and media literacy education. The teachers also
noticed that students motivation and interest were aroused in media literacy educa-
tion, which indicated the positive influence on students learning.

7 The Trend towards Integrating Media Literacy Education


into the School Curriculum

Media literacy education is used widely across multiple subjects in some Western
countries. It can be integrated into any curriculum in K-12 education, and many
suggestions have been offered on how teachers can do this in practice (Scheibe and
Rogow 1999, 2002, 2004, 2008; Semali 2000). Specifically, media literacy educa-
tion has been integrated into English language teaching through a wide range of
media texts and themes and in the classroom (Goodwyn 1993; Cheung 2004b).
With the popular use of the Internet, it is exploited both for accessing resources for
teachers and students and as a tool for inquiry-based study (Hobbs 2008). In this
study, an integrated curriculum, which was encouraged in the national curriculum
reform, was another channel for media literacy education in addition to the school-
based curriculum. Media literacy education involved the students media culture
Integrating Media Literacy Education into the School Curriculum in China: A Case 143

and brought their media experiences into schooling, which is what schooling needs
in this digital age. Moreover, an integrated curriculum did not need more specialist
teachers to contribute to media literacy education as an independent course would
do. Some teachers studied media literacy education and combined it with their
teaching subjects. It depended on the teachers motivation and the school initiative.
Nonetheless, the qualifications of teachers teaching media literacy education are an
emergent issue that require future investigation. All the interviewed teachers thought
teacher training was urgently needed in order to integrate media literacy education
into the curriculum.
Most of the teachers expressed that the trend was for media literacy education to
be integrated into the existing curriculum since they could control classroom activi-
ties easily, whereas media literacy education as an independent subject may require
some systematical knowledge and skill of media on the part of teachers, which was
difficult for teachers at that stage of their development. The teachers were, however,
already good at teaching strategies. What was important for them was to integrate
their basic knowledge of media literacy education into their teaching. The teachers
were not asked to conduct every lesson in an integrated form, but they were encour-
aged to integrate elements of media literacy education into their existing subjects in
an appropriate way. Some teachers mentioned that media literacy education could
easily be connected to existing subject knowledge, and that if the teacher under-
stood the rationale of media literacy education well, it would make the study to
proceed more smoothly in the integrated curriculum. Media literacy education had
to help existing subjects to achieve their objectives in practice. When delivered as
an independent subject, it was sometimes difficult for the teachers to follow the
original principles of media literacy education in designing the teaching and learn-
ing. Some members in the team doubted whether they had fully achieved the objec-
tives of media literacy education in practice, even though these teaching points were
listed in the curriculum design. This concern is not an isolated issue for independent
media literacy education in China, since Hobbs (1998) also doubted whether media
literacy education enhanced teaching and learning or whether key concepts could be
delivered properly in an integrated curriculum based on Western discourse.

8 Limitation of the Study

The limitation of the study was that it was only possible to examine the integration
of media literacy education with respect to four subjects with respect to four sub-
jectsmoral education, mathematics, information technology and integrated prac-
tical activitiesas these were the subjects that were accessible and feasible for the
researcher to assess. As the study described, there were also other teachers teaching
an integrated curriculum, some of whom incorporated elements of media literacy
education but in an unconscious way. This study did not take these practices into
account. However, the study revealed that there was a tendency for media literacy
education to be an integrated part of existing subjects. The findings would have been
144 C.K. Cheung and W. Xu

richer if this study had been able to explore more integrated curricula for media
literacy education, instead of focusing on four existing subjects.

9 Conclusion

With the changing media environment, media literacy education is an emerging


field in China. Many studies have shown the significance of media literacy educa-
tion, but there have been few studies on school practices, and most of the existing
studies are mainly based on the context of Western discourse. This study aimed to
explore the implementation of, and approaches to, media literacy education in a
Chinese primary school. It aimed to shift media literacy education from an interna-
tional context to a local setting and offer a point of reference to enrich the theory and
practice in the process of localization.
In this study, curriculum practice was a result of a collaborative effort between a
university and a primary school. With the effort of teachers in the HZM primary
school and the team members from BBU, media literacy education is integrated
with moral education, math education and information technology. The results are
promising.

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Internationalising Chinas Digital Media
Literacy Education

Ian William Lang

Abstract Formal Chinese demand for internal cultural coherence has for the last
60 years been met by specialist training institutions working in industrial-era mod-
els of content production. This model has served Chinese national unification goals
but is less able to project Chinese cultural and soft-power values internationally in a
digital world where both Chinese and foreign consumers have increasing access to
a range of globalised and competitive cultural entertainment and information prod-
ucts from many nations.
Additionally, media once considered not employment related in mission film,
radio, television and publishing has through digitalization developed educational
and professional communications roles in a broad range of new and existing non-
entertainment industries that traditional media education providers struggle to
fulfil.
The challenge for Chinese higher education is how digital media content produc-
tion literacies may be integrated into the widest range of primary and secondary
industries in service of the nations transition to a knowledge economy, whilst pro-
jecting Chinese values persuasively on a digital world stage. Hong Kongs historical
gateway role may provide innovative and catalytic nationwide capabilities in
expressing contemporary Chinese values globally.

Keywords Soft power New media Digital education Meta-curricular objec-


tives Massive open online courses (MOOCs) Creative industries

I.W. Lang (*)


The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria 3010, Australia
e-mail: iwlang@unimelb.edu.au

Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2016 147


C.K. Cheung, Media Literacy Education in China,
DOI 10.1007/978-981-10-0045-4_11
148 I.W. Lang

1 Structural Change in Chinas Media Literacy Education

1.1 Modernisation with Cultural Authenticity

This chapter seeks to analyse structural change amongst Chinas key media literacy
education providers to provide a digitally coherent approach to training new media
content makers for both internal modernisation and employment and internationali-
sation of Chinese culture. After summarising trends in key providers and agencies
including advances in e-learning and non-entertainment-based production, the
chapter then examines digitally useful curricula mechanisms intended to shift con-
tent production from a self-centred to other-centred focus as an enabler of authentic-
ity in Chinese self-representation and knowledge transfer in foreign markets. The
conclusion then examines the type of strategic partnerships with foreign universities
and media partners that may accelerate Chinas digital media literacy within a con-
text of e-learning.
Over the last 60 years, professional media production literacies have historically
been taught at specialist tertiary institutes in modern China, with a focus on educat-
ing skilled creators of entertainment and factual narratives for mass consumption
serving national soft power and increasingly commercial objectives. Key providers
include the Beijing Film Academy (BFA), the Central Academy of Drama (CAD),
and the Communication University of China (CUC). With close links to state media
agencies and in particular the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television
(SARFT) as it was known until 2013, these academies and communication universi-
ties retain relatively high individual autonomy in setting curriculum based on his-
torical definitions of employment specialisation in radio, television, cinema and
print.

1.2 Digital Literacy Strategies

Within traditional providers, digital convergence has been an add-on rather than
game changer in terms of structural organisational change, with digitisation used to
technically enhance existing curricula rather than catalyse convergent curricula
development.
Central government has responded to digital media convergence under interna-
tionalisation directives of the 12th Five-Year Plan that recognises online media and
press sharing screen space with film and television. In March 2013, this caused the
State Administration of Radio, Film and Television to subsequently join with the
General Administration of Press and Publication, to form the more encompassing
General Administration of Press and Publication, Radio, Film and Television. The
digital convergence noted by government has also been noted by industry employ-
ers, spreading steadily beyond traditional news and entertainment industries.
Internationalising Chinas Digital Media Literacy Education 149

1.3 Employment Impacts

Employers in a wide range of government departments and private enterprise


increasingly demand innovative digital media skills as a core graduate outcome for
a wide range of knowledge-economy jobs. New but unmet national demand exists
for tertiary education providers to embed disciplinary-specific digital media skills in
a wide range of fields including science, technology, business and humanities.
Cross-cultural adaptation of these skills is further required to assist internationalisa-
tion in these fields. These new education needs are increasingly being met by a
range of established and newer regional universities and academies in China that
have developed their own digital literacy and production curricula at an internal
level. Many have also sought to benchmark their teaching and research functions at
international levels through strategic partnerships with foreign universities and digi-
tal media enterprises. This pattern is exemplified by Beijing Normal University, for
example, which has run a successful student annual film festival since 1993, attract-
ing wide national participation that has in 2012 led to road-show tours of represen-
tative works to Taiwan and then, in 2013/2014, led to additional tours in Vancouver
and New York (Lang 2014b).

2 Traditional Chinese Approaches to Media Production


Education

2.1 Traditional to Digital Transition

Because of the high costs of production and limited distribution options for finished
content in traditional media production education programs, a specialist academy
model has served China well in the post-revolutionary period of rapid development
and later in the rapid modernisation period associated with market reformer Deng
Xiaoping. However, under digital convergence, a fracturing of traditional produc-
tion methods has occurred, using low-cost technologies and quick growth of user-
generated content diffused widely by social media.
Stand-alone institutions for the performing and recorded arts in film television,
radio, theatre and journalism originally structured their training systems on Russian
pedagogies and have been increasingly localising curriculum to meet modern
Chinese needs, particularly in technology-intensive fields. An embrace of UK-inspired
creative industries rhetoric led by intellectual and politician Li Wuwei (2011) has
seen some broadening of media skill training from stand-alone national academies to
regional providers. For example, digital literacies illustrating this have been inte-
grated with traditional curricula at the Shanghai Theatre Academy where traditional
drama training has been married with sophisticated digital pre-visualisation capabili-
ties, used, for example, in virtually rehearsing and perfecting the opening and clos-
150 I.W. Lang

ing ceremonies of the Shanghai World Expo in 2010 involving complex planning of
multi-performer dance and spectacle pieces (Lang 2014a).

2.2 Employment Considerations

Yet even where curricula integration has occurred, interviews with undergraduate
students suggest that structural changes to the broader employment market make it
difficult for specialist media-teaching institutions to achieve strong graduate
employment rates although precise figures are almost impossible to obtain. As in
the West, this has driven postgraduate enrolments as students seek to gain an edge
in the market. These structural changes to traditional media employment include the
displacement of professional print production by amateur online content produced
and consumed by a demographic closely resembling average tertiary student ranges.
The ability for instantly messaged text and media clips to be easily forwarded by
Chinas 450 million online user continues to increase despite a small drop in total
online users of Weibo, reported by the South China Morning Post (January 18,
2014) as an effect of anti-rumour laws. Language issues and complex local knowl-
edge codes largely confine these posts to domestic audiences, and it is arguable that
they have little demonstrable influence on foreign perception of China.
Because the world market for content produced by digital media lies beyond any
single states jurisdiction and is driven by consumers rather than producers, it is the
appeal of content over time that ultimately determines take-up by foreign
audiences.

2.3 Internationalisation Considerations

It is implausible that narrative skills developed for traditional media in a foreign


country may be adapted to be taught in China as simple addition to new media skill
literacies in an attempt to increase the foreign appeal of content. Therefore, this
method is only likely to perpetuate national stereotyping and misunderstandings on
all sides. Rather, internationalisation through new media may be better served by
the consistent expression of high-integrity content aimed at educated foreign
decision-makers rather than mass audiences.
Whilst broadcast television employment and production remains buoyant with
over 3000 television channels being broadcast in China in 2013, very little domesti-
cally produced content reaches foreign screens with the exception of specialist
English language news services reproduced by specialist western stations catering
primarily for diasporic Chinese audiences that in Australia include the national SBS
television and radio networks. Filling the big screens of cinema remains a primary
motive for students at premium film academies like the Beijing Film Academy.
Students at the academy develop international cinematic awareness through
Internationalising Chinas Digital Media Literacy Education 151

exposure to hundreds of the worlds best short films screened at an annual interna-
tional student film festival hosted by the Beijing Film Academy and through meet-
ing visiting foreign media experts who attend the festival.
Within the import quota of 30 foreign film per year determined by the General
Administration of Press Publication, Radio, Film and Television, cinema audiences
increasingly support popular foreign films largely from the USA (Blue Book
2013); Chinas training academies are finding it more difficult for their graduates to
reach position of national social and economic influence. To compete with western
skills training in media production, Chinese academies have undertaken strategic
programs of staff and student exchange with leading foreign providers primarily in
the USA and also in the UK, Germany and Australia.

(In alphabetical order)

Beijing Film Academy,

Beijing Normal University

Beijing University of Post and Telecommunications,

Central Academy of Drama,

Chongqing Meishi Film Academy,

Communication University of China,

Shanghai Institute of Visual Art,

Shanghai Theatre Academy

Shanghai University Media Industry Research Unit,

Sun Yat Sen University School of Communication,

Yunnan Arts University,

Yunnan University East Asia Institute of Visual Anthropology,

Zhejiang University of Media and Communications

Fig. 1 Surveyed Chinese media-teaching academies 20132015


152 I.W. Lang

2.4 Survey of Twelve Chinese Media Schools

By inspection of 12 representative teaching facilities around China (Fig. 1) in 2011


and compared to earlier visits undertaken by the author in the preceding twenty
years, it is clear that inspected Chinese media-teaching academies now possess
technological facilities equal to the best in the world. As may be expected, national
academies tend to have significantly larger student and staff populations than their
foreign equivalents, whilst smaller and newer university-based media skills pro-
grams approximate their foreign equivalents in scale.

2.5 Balancing Internationalisation with National Sovereignty

From a social perspective, many parents of potential media students feel anxious
about the employability of their children once graduated. Where a prospective stu-
dent is committed to media study, risk is mitigated by attempting entry to the coun-
trys leading national providers wherever possible, leading to application rates of
more than 20,000 students in 2014 for around 250 places in sub-disciplinary pro-
grams of the Beijing Film Academy, where it is believed graduates face more secure
employment. Pedagogically, teaching programs at national academies have stronger
ideological foundations than those found in western schools and offer more pre-
scribed curricula options in creative screen writing. Aspirations towards interna-
tionalisation are mostly expressed in terms of emulating Hollywood levels of
production success with content steeped in Chinese values. This expression most
often centres on sometimes-stereotyped western models of foreign curricula avail-
able for benchmarking and localised reinterpretation.
From inspection and through student interviews, production-based teaching pro-
grams in Chinese teaching academies place a strong emphasis on the measurement
of detailed skill assessment outcomes and lower emphasis on cognitive synthesis
abilities to create new solutions to open-ended problems. This trend frequently
invites western caution over the conflation of metrics with actual performance, such
as this warning from Harvard University Research Professor Derek Bok (2014),
who, writing for Caijing, cautions, With graduation rates and government spend-
ing easy to calculate, educational quality, which is difficult to measure, is likely to
be the objective that slips. No one need know and thus no one can be held account-
able when graduation rates rise but the hoped-for economic benefits fail to
materialize.
Similar cautions exist amongst senior Chinese educational reform scholars such
as Liu Daoyu, a former president of Wuhan University, who has frequently described
Chinas examination system as a constraint to innovation. In reforming Wuhan
University in the 1980s to allow greater foreign exchange, Liu is quoted by Gong
Yidong in China Daily (2009), saying, Close breeding impedes innovation.
Meanwhile, we must lift the screws on peoples minds and tap into their initiative
Internationalising Chinas Digital Media Literacy Education 153

and enthusiasm. Lius views are similar to those of government ministers of inno-
vation and technology in many countries, who seek to better harness international
inputs to grow national outputs. Where outputs are dependent on human rather than
physical resources, a country as small as Sweden can still dominate specific world
markets, in the design of mass furniture, for example, through IKEA. Rather than
one big commercial breakthrough, for a pharmaceutical discovery or new supercon-
ductor alloy, for example, IKEAs success shows the value of applying refined intel-
lectual design skills to many small things that people everywhere need to buy.
Chinas modernisation towards a digitally literate state that leverages its largest
natural resource its population is a continuous process of balancing internation-
alisation with national sovereignty in the classroom.

3 Western Approaches to Media Production Education

3.1 Western Entertainment-Based Education

Clearly no singular curricula approach characterises all foreign media education


programs in developed western countries such as the USA, the UK and European
Union cultural centres. Despite common claims that media production is a global
business, media production schools by their outputs and curricular interests often
develop profoundly local identities, where the style of works from one school to
another in the same country can vary widely. For example, works produced by
Australias Victorian College of Arts reflect the strong immigrant traditions of the
schools host city Melbourne with films described as art house, whilst the countrys
national Australian Film and Television and Radio School in Sydney, only 1000 km
away, shows a stronger focus on commercial skill and entertainment development
linked to that citys reputation as a larger commercial production centre in the
country.

3.2 School Character Localised by Faculty Staff

Once set by the teaching organisations executive as a response to often implicitly


expressed market demand, a schools character is maintained through staffing
appointments rather than by decree, and this is as true for Chinas established acad-
emies as it is for long established foreign schools. The impact of long-standing
teaching staff influences entire generations of filmmakers at the Beijing Film
Academy with school character maintained under internationalising pressures, for
example, by professors such as Xie Fie, Wang Honghai and Zhong Dafeng. The
consistent style of the Beijing Film Academys professional and national values
permeates graduate traits and facilitates graduate networking opportunities.
154 I.W. Lang

These close links to industry operate also in the USA at New York University
with a more independent character and the University of Southern California (USC)
and University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) with deeper Hollywood
characteristics.
In effect, the strength of these character linkages with industry employers previ-
ously state owned in China but increasingly privatised as in the west may be mea-
sured by their influence as de jure or de facto professional associations whose
endorsement of curricula and enrolment ceilings is required to effectively licence
graduates to practice. Universities more broadly in the west have long traded some
control over curricula and school character to third-party gatekeeping by profes-
sional associations as the price of offering enrolment-to-employment opportunities
for its graduates in law, medicine, accounting, veterinary science, architecture,
design and engineering amongst others.
These relationships can exert conservative forces on curricula and staffing reform
desired by a university or school in anticipation of future national need, in tension
with the stakeholder needs of an employment group to protect the economic future
of its existing membership. Development of digital media literacies in these profes-
sions at a university and curricula level will depend on the success of educators to
resolve potential tensions with professional associations long before implementa-
tion can occur in the classroom. In China, newer schools like Chong Qings Meishi
Academy and Zhejiang University of Media and Communications, though, are pro-
viding competition to established providers through a more integrated application
of digital media throughout the curricula, with graduates prepared for new media
careers in games and animation as well as film production. In these areas of new
media practice, professional association influence is relatively low and innovation
relatively high. Even so, school character and curricula remains focussed on gradu-
ate employment in entertainment industries.

3.3 Festival Strategy for Internationalisation

Beijing Normal Universitys (BNU) School of Communication has developed a stu-


dent film festival in 1993 that has grown rapidly as cheaper digital production tech-
nology has penetrated schools and universities around the country. The festivals
competition attracted over 237 films in 2014. Uniquely amongst traditional festival
practice, BNUs competition is judged exclusively by a student jury of 30 recruited
from across China. In this way, the festival provides a relatively independent guide
to the state of young filmmaking and digital capability in China and its special eco-
nomic zones. Leading production centres such as Beijing Film Academy are well
represented in the festival as may be expected, whilst Hong Kongs Baptist
University has performed strongly too. The National Taiwan University of Arts has
performed creditably and is indicative of the strong cultural ties possible through
media exchange. The emergent structural function of this festival in Western terms
is closest to the early Sundance Film Festival in the USA that screened independent
Internationalising Chinas Digital Media Literacy Education 155

films as an alternative to major Hollywood studio-dominated festivals. Because of


its non-aligned nature, Sundance quickly became known as an event to identify new
talent. In a more modest way, Beijing Normal Universitys festival is becoming a
barometer of not only new talent but an accurate survey of growing digital literacy
in the nation. Since 2012, the university has toured a highlight show of the festival
to Vancouver and New York. This represents a successful strategy in Beijing Normal
Universitys own role in communicating Chinese culture overseas.

3.4 Science and Non-entertainment Media Education

More widely in Chinese creative media education, there is less evidence of digital
media training collaborations at an institutional level with science and technical
university research centres, although this type of integration is established within
foreign-language training and traditional media training in journalism where state
employment in print still offers career paths that are disappearing in the west. The
newspaper China Daily, for example, employs around 800 Chinese and 250 foreign
journalists (Lang 2014a). Compared to New York Times total full-time employment
of around 140 writing staff (NYT 2014), these numbers signal the ongoing impor-
tance to China of print as a soft-power vector. The decline of western newspaper
circulations and consequent employment opportunities thus drives a type of reverse
internationalisation occurring where foreign media workers move to China for rea-
sons as much economic as they may be political. This trend is being seen in journal-
ism in media like China Daily and Global Times designed for foreign market
penetration or reprinting within foreign journals.

3.5 Online Newspapers the New Television

Throughout the 2000s both newspapers online formats have been slow to embrace
digital video journalism reports or develop sophisticated online social media strate-
gies such as those employed by News Limited in the west to grow readership.
Reverse internationalisation occurs more obviously in high-end film produc-
tion through international co-productions where funding of major western films has
now become more dependent on Chinese financing since the Global Finance Crisis
in the west in 2008 acted to limit locally available risk capital for major USA-based
media conglomerates.
156 I.W. Lang

4 Meta-Curricula Objectives

4.1 Building a Coherent Digital Curriculum

Meta-curricula objectives can be thought of as being determined as much by opera-


tional student demand, as by teaching mandate. These objectives fall into a contin-
uum that, at one end, represent simple transactional aims to achieve external
rewards such as employment and acclaim and, at the other end, are transformative
in stimulating internal growth and actualisation in the individual learner. It is both a
simplification and a truism to suggest that western media school veer towards edu-
cation that celebrates individualism, but it is less clear through teaching experience
over thirty years in both Asian and western media schools if this is entirely accurate.
Individualism, rather than an end point of any education system, may more usefully
be described as a waypoint towards the transformative end of the experience stu-
dents share in both Chinese and foreign systems of higher education.
From teaching experience in both vocational and university settings involving
creative problem-solving tasks, transformative meta-curricula objectives are both
implicitly sought and challenged by students. At an institutional level, these objec-
tives are implied rather than specified in the curricula, in ways that more transac-
tional vocational skill training does not suggest. These outcomes may be described
as a meta-curricula objective that ultimately provides the rationale for state invest-
ment in media education.

4.2 International Outcomes Comparison with Sport

In comparative terms, examining the type of press releases issued by an institutions


marketing department, for example, can test the apparent operational objectives of
a national sporting academy. Whilst encouraging the broader population towards
physical exercise may be a key rationale, a report of a graduate winning a gold
Olympic medal is likely to bring greater press attention.
External recognition by unimpeachable peer authorities can, in metric-based per-
formance management systems, quickly become the benchmark for judging both
students and staff performance and finally comes to implicitly dominate curricula.
For media schools, the equivalent to Olympic gold is any major prize at the
worlds three major film festivals at Cannes, Venice and Berlin, followed by recog-
nition for US schools at least, by recognition at an international level by the US
Academy Awards and at a national level by the Student Academy Awards. At an
international level, the relatively youthful CILECT Prize voted on by over 130
school members of the world association of film and television schools can be seen
to becoming a benchmark for international performance with curricular influence.
This is because of the critical peer-review nature of voting processes a requirement
Internationalising Chinas Digital Media Literacy Education 157

for recognition demanded both by state funding systems and tertiary education sys-
tems in most OECD countries.

4.3 Old Transactional vs. New Transformational Pedagogy

In pedagogical terms, however, these meta objectives are more transactional than
transformational for both students and curricula and may, if unchallenged, actually
defeat the type of creative synthesis development required for superior
performance.
Transformational objectives in media education, whether explicit or implicit,
tend to occur in similar patterns in both western and Chinese media schools driven
largely by student-driven behaviour patterns than specific curricula rhetoric.
Examination of these patterns is rarely examined in individual schools or, if it is,
may be regarded as a culturally distinct sum of uniquely local characteristics that
may not easily be reproduced or scaled up to larger enterprises. This argument sup-
ports continued funding of the schools as isolated entities.
Expression of meta-curricular objective (Fig. 2) becomes critical, however, in
designing larger education systems that require up-scaling to respond usefully to
escalating demand for workers in diverse fields with at least foundation levels of
embedded digital media literacy. Especially at foundation levels, a combination of
individual and group-based problem-solving skills involved in media production
tasks can accelerate self-development and group socialisation. The opportunity to
participate in this type of self-expressive process can be highly appealing to potential

1st level Team building and personal recognition, acknowledgement

through faculty feedback

2nd level Self-absorption and socialisation, acknowledgement through

faculty and local peer feedback

3rd level Skills and self-testing against benchmark norms, transformation

through local peer feedback

4th level Transformation to other-centred awareness, acknowledged by

professional peer feedback

5th level Operational mastery, acknowledged by local and international

communities (Lang, 2014)

Fig. 2 Transformational meta-curricula objectives


158 I.W. Lang

students. My process of moving from self-centred to audience-centred as a peda-


gogical approach is most simply described in list form as a series of ascending
milestones or levels.

4.4 Developing Students Problem-Solving Abilities

Needless to say there is some crossover between levels, and not all students will
work through each level in strictly sequential form. Indeed, some learners may not
reach the higher levels at all. Rather, the meta-curricula objectives described here
try to illuminate the normally hidden skeleton of curricular development that defines
a sense of higher education in the teaching of skills and theoretical understanding
that allow a student successfully completing the educational program to indepen-
dently develop and synthesise appropriate solutions to new and complex problems.
In essence, this model of meta-curricular objective accepts that for many, but not all
learners, the journey to communications mastery in both old and new media begins
with a process encouraging self-awareness that, through consistently escalating yet
matching processes of assessment, encourages awareness of others.
This process expects that students will actively challenge institutional authority
particularly as second and third level development but, through increasing peer
feedback rather than institutional containment, enables the learner to emulate pro-
fessional communication modes through ever-widening feedback loops towards
effective wide community address and response. The attraction of self-expression
development has helped drive enrolments in many western media schools and in
practice is more widely quoted by applicants applying for selection to competitive
entry schools than a desire to become rich and famous. Even with the most careful
selection though, there is no guarantee that all or even most students will reach the
higher levels of audience-motivated communication.

4.5 Measuring Higher Synthesis Skills in Media Students

Attempts to measure graduates operating at higher levels are difficult and not always
related to early external award success. Indication of previous institutional success
in achieving its meta-curricula objectives can be demonstrated through industry sur-
veys that detail alumni achievements and influence. As students exercise greater
consumer choice, market trends are more easily noted through simple comparison
of application rates to all training options available especially including cross-
institutional enrolments for customised degrees.
In the USA, for example, as an example of industry influence and peer acknowl-
edgement, Stanford University has a very small documentary education program
teaching around eight students per year in their Master of Fine Arts Documentary
Film and Video program, but after several decades history, Stanford graduates can
Internationalising Chinas Digital Media Literacy Education 159

be found in positions of great influence throughout factual broadcasting in the USA


and overseas, winning 25 Student Academy Awards between 1984 and 2014
(Stanford 2015).
Similarly in China and despite competition from a wide variety of new digital
media education providers, selective intake institutions, such as the Central
Academy of Drama with a strong traditional Russian curricular focus, still regularly
attract enrolment applications rates of over 20,000 candidates for just 150 or so
places in key programs according to Vice Chancellor Liu Libin in a 2011 interview
with the author. The future of these specialisation programs at Stanford and Chinas
Central Academy of Drama is not in doubt as national leaders in their field. Their
ability to leverage this advantage towards global influence though is the question
that digital online education asks.

5 The Art of Factual Communication

5.1 Tools for Fostering Creative Communities

The history of state media production schools since VGIK was first formed in
Russia over a century ago has centred around the development of highly skilled
creative personnel who may reflect and shape a nations narratives for internal social
strengthening and nurtures foreign respect internationally. Although often couched
in local industry-building rhetoric, film schools around the world can claim only
marginal contribution to building vibrant economic industries. Rather, their task,
much like elite national sporting academies, is to develop world-standard perform-
ers at an official level and, in some cases on an informal level, provides a social
safety valve for the debate of contentious social issues. Because of the complexity
of local references in these works, contentious films tend to generate most debate
internally.
For export purposes, complex social issues may be simplified through ideologi-
cal reductionism to appeal to foreign markets and cultural competitions. At this
level of national stereotyping, films such as Ang Lees Hidden Dragon, Crouching
Tiger (2000) achieved strong market success in western countries but low perfor-
mance in mainland China. In noting the universalisation of creative industry rheto-
ric, Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi puts it, creativity is increasingly held to be no longer
a luxury for the few, buta necessity for all (2006, p. xviii, original emphasis). A
further important perspective has been added through Csikszentmihalyis insistence
on the community, not the individual, as the higher order unit of analysis when seek-
ing to foster creativity. This proposition challenges conceptions of creativity that are
limited to individualistic psychological traits, and this has pre-empted a shift in
scholarly interest from the creative individual to the creative, dynamic team.
160 I.W. Lang

5.2 Massive Open Online Courses as Tools for Educational


Internationalisation

The current stage of massive open online courses (MOOCs) still needs much devel-
opment. For example, foreign MOOCs from providers like Udacity and Coursera
have high start rates with over 400,000 enrolments for Melbourne University in
Australia, for example, in 2014, but also very high dropout rates. The programs can
be boring compared to video game and movies. With falling participation in official
political parties in both China and the USA amongst young people, leaders in both
countries face difficulty in competing for the attention of community members. It is
hard for government to talk to everyone at the same time to discuss complex issues
because of media fragmentation and short attention spans. Online communication is
both the problem and the solution.
So the question is how to win the hearts and minds of current young users of digi-
tal media, to transform them by voluntary and not forced methods into productive
citizens who support national interests in the long term. As people become better
educated, they ask more questions. Successful providers of online education respond
by explaining the benefits or participation to help motivation and answering ques-
tions quickly and in a straight way. This model is incentive-based education.
China already has many years of experience since 1979 in distance education
with the television and radio universities. However, the new age asks us to move
from one-way transmission to more interesting interactive education. It can be hard
though for experienced teachers to reconceptualise their curricula for interactive
delivery. The most important lesson from international MOOCs is not technology.
China can already do that. The important lesson is how to deliver factual and useful
information for government and business that is interesting for the viewer. This is
where we need to understand the fundamental techniques of storytelling to create
user-focussed communication. When used for science, technology, and language
teaching especially, these skills allow complex information to be organised more
efficiently for flow and retention.

5.3 MOOC Strategies

From an individual institutional perspective, MOOCs are often considered a loss-


leader marketing strategy to attract new students with free non-award courses to
later enrol in fee-paying award courses. In this case, provider institutions are
rewarded by providing MOOC courses that are notably different from other provid-
ers and provide market differentiation for consumers. In this free enterprise model,
there are structural reasons to not cooperate between institutions, even where this
may be in the national interest. This pattern is evident in Australia that, as a repre-
sentative developed Western education market, sees intense competition between
providers for the best and brightest students locally and internationally. From a
Internationalising Chinas Digital Media Literacy Education 161

national view, however, where development of online programs may be coordinated


to have a consistently progressive effect on national interests, MOOCs have two
main strategic purposes: primarily, to build national capability in skills where tradi-
tional providers are unable to meet forecast targets and secondly to demonstrate
attractive knowledge competencies internationally that may rebalance Chinas
export of students seeking foreign qualifications overseas overtaken by imports of
foreign students studying in China.

5.4 MOOC Strategy 1: Building National Capability

This purpose is to educate poor and rural workers who cannot go to university and
move them from economically neutral or negative subsistence to positive contribu-
tion in skilled manufacturing and services. For China, this involves urbanising 250
million peasants from non-economic rural areas by 2020. But in America also, there
are many poor minority communities who cannot afford traditional education.
In Australia and Britain, there is also a big funding problem with vocational
education training to teach trade skills. Using a blended model of face-to-face and
online education, we can see that tertiary education follow a historical shift from
pre-1949 service for an elite minority to wider and wider mass-education models.
The crisis point in western education has been the increased industry demand for
high-tech workers combined with social equity movements creating increased stu-
dent numbers in the 1990s that tested traditional university teaching capacities.
MOOCs are part of a solution but not the whole solution.

5.5 MOOC Strategy 2: Exerting International Influence

China wins some impressive international prizes in the arts in the 1980s as the world
discovers a new China. Many of the prizes are critical of China though. This includes
film festival prizes at Cannes in France and art festival in Venice. Even for the next
20 years, international arts prizes tend to focus on public examination of other coun-
trys national problems that most governments prefer to fix in-house. This sort of
work in film, performing arts, books and visual art is mainly for export purposes to
win international prestige for the artist and sometimes their country. It is specialist
product that often does not attract large domestic audience. Even sport is part of this
export activity like the Olympic Games for big cities like Beijing and London or
prestige secondary events like Formula Motor Racing for smaller centres like
Macau, Dubai or Singapore.
162 I.W. Lang

5.6 Export Media Profits or Respect

These types of export programs can earn foreign dollars but may not always earn
foreign respect. Some countries like France and Germany can earn both dollars and
respect for their export culture. French cultural and luxury products lead the world.
Even though the economy of France like most of Europe is very difficult, many
European countries continue to trade successfully on long cultural history that is
very attractive to Chinese tourists and shoppers. Germany continues to trade on its
long tradition of technical excellence not just in cars like Mercedes Benz but equally
important in the many high-tech manufacturing machines supporting heavy indus-
try around the world. Italy does the same with the export of nationally specific
design style in luxury clothing and cars like Ferrari. Can China earn both export
dollars and durable foreign respect? This is not easy, because unlike Europe, it is
hard for China to trade on recent pre-revolutionary imperial history directly from a
political view and also from a tangible history view of historical building and monu-
ments although this is changing.

6 Incentive-Based Education

6.1 E-Learning for Mass Education

For Chinas educators, the efficiency, scale, and speed of e-learning persuasively
argues for a diversification of resources from universities to private and other gov-
ernment providers to create a holistic national training system, with online accredi-
tation records that employers universally understand and respect. The need for
creating a unified education system has been accelerated by fragmentation forces of
new media that tends to create smaller special interest groups. Critics suggest this
can restrict the transmission of traditional cultural values, whilst supporters of new
media suggest that greater netizen interactivity helps reinvigorate traditional values
so they become relevant to a new generation.
There is little chance of interactive new media reverting to a simpler predigital
world. The history of Englands industrial revolution in the eighteenth century, for
example, indicates that any technology that reaches a point of wide social aspiration
and low entry price can ultimately influence every part of society permanently, just
as the invention of the bicycle allowed people to live further away from their work-
place changing the nature of village and city development. Socially, these changes
led also to the development of organised labour movements and development of
new education systems including the UK public school model that included famous
schools like Eton and Harrow, which provided new secular and scientific methods
separated from the purely religious education available for hundreds of years
beforehand. China has had to go through the same process in decades though not
centuries.
Internationalising Chinas Digital Media Literacy Education 163

6.2 Non-unified Western Approach to E-Learning

In a much smaller but representative example of western universities that embrace


digital learning, the recent history of Tier 1 universities in Australia sees the adop-
tion of limited online learning systems in a non-unified approach. Each university
develops their own exclusive system in an effort to retain and grow market share of
enrolments. E-learning programs are used as bait to attract new students and to
generate brand recognition in new foreign markets. For example, Melbourne
University in Australia has a high world ranking but relatively low brand recogni-
tion in China. The introduction of a MOOC style program in 2014 led to the enrol-
ment of over 440,000 online students around the world in less than two years,
representing almost ten times the full-time student population of the university. The
still unresolved problem, though, is how to convert these virtual online enrolments
into fee-paying students and whether this can improve brand recognition in China
as a key recruitment market.

6.3 Australian Curricular Diversity Model

In these cases, Tier 1 universities are unlikely to develop anything other than strate-
gic feeder partner relationships with other institutions and to ignore the wider
socially mobilising potentials of e-learning. In Australia, for example, there is no
evidence that leading universities will easily develop a shared e-learning platform
linked to government-defined national priorities, as the funding incentives to do so
do not exist in a climate where state financial subvention is complex and in itself
declining. For governments and communities though, considerable benefit may be
achieved by providing not only nationally accredited e-learning programs but inter-
nationally accredited courses. This of course touches on sensitive feelings, but for
disciplines in science, languages, medicine and mathematics, it is difficult to argue
that local cultural factors mean that different standards and programs should be
developed not only by individual countries but by individual provinces.
Again in Australia, for example, most of the countrys states and territories have
education bodies that set their own curriculum and choose their own textbooks,
although development of a national curriculum is advanced but contentious amongst
some parents and lawmakers.

6.4 European Erasmus Cooperation Model

Europe has moved to overcome provincial barriers in its education system, through
programs such as the Erasmus program (European Community Action Scheme for
the Mobility of University Students) that, over its life from 2007 to 2013, simplifies
164 I.W. Lang

study at multiple universities in a student-driven approach that is hoped to provide


new-economy demand-driven employment outcomes. The difficult economic cir-
cumstances faced by Europe now, particularly in the Mediterranean countries of
Spain, Greece and Italy where youth unemployment is high, is having a negative
effect on interregional articulation. Although Europes unquestioned cultural
authority continues to draw Chinese tourists in ever greater numbers, the European
Unions ability to set global education agendas is limited by internal economic dif-
ferences between its nation members to deliver relatively expensive education at
standardised quality levels.

6.5 USA Large-Systems Education Model

Although the US education market, like Australias, is characterised by individu-


ated curricula approved at local government levels, the great size of the US market
and research prestige of its Tier 1 and Tier 2 brands effectively become a default or
gold standard for many foreign countries for international student articulation.
Too often, international movements of students is based, however, on commercially
published ranking systems that conflate brand status with graduate employability
and overlook the most basic of education questions: is this program good value for
the money and time it costs? In considering how e-learning may be most effectively
used for national development and international cooperation, it is important then to
look for examples of effective mass-education systems rather than just high-flying
elites.
Not so well known in China, are the US state-based education systems designed
to provide greater access and equity for community members and ethnic minorities
who cannot afford tertiary or vocational education? These systems offer important
examples of large-scale networked education that has demonstrated clear commu-
nity development advantages and is usefully extending its effectiveness through
e-learning. The most famous state rather than national systems are in New York
State called SUNY (State University of New York) and in California called Cal
State (or CSU). Both SUNY and CSU enrol around 440,000 students in many con-
nected teaching institutions in their area. These institutions include formal universi-
ties, as well as community colleges. At SUNY, around 1.1 million adults are enrolled
on vocational education and training programs across 64 campuses.
Cal State offers education across 23 campuses in California and graduates around
100,000 students per year. Students have a wide range of study options and path-
ways between providers in both the SUNY and Cal State systems, and, in some
ways, both systems reflect the regionally specific nature of tertiary education not
only from a students point of view of travel convenience but from a funding state
government view, which wants to see productive workforce replacement and growth
within the borders of its jurisdiction. This is similar to the way tier-one cities in
China like Chongqing or Tianjin have highly developed education ministries of
their own to meet local needs, although working cooperatively in a national
Internationalising Chinas Digital Media Literacy Education 165

framework. From an operational view, these state-based systems offer certain


advantages suitable for e-learning development and staff management in particular,
which allows for scientific teaching methods to be applied with greater resources in
a considered way to many institutions simultaneously rather than for individual
institutions having to develop individualised reform and modernisation programs of
their own.

6.6 Benefits of Cal State and SUNY Systems

Why are these system examples perhaps more important for education reform and
modernisation than the famous models like Harvard and MIT? Simply, these sys-
tems operate on strict and relatively low budgets to produce consistent results meet-
ing state and student needs, especially in the efficient production of competent new
teachers. That these systems do not have the luxury of highly selective entry or that
funding for the worlds top 10 universities is effectively not an operational restric-
tion, this efficiency deserves closer scrutiny from Chinese institutions seeking
greater public value. SUNY employs around 88,000 teachers (that in America are
called faculty staff). This large workforce provides many ways for employees to
develop career choices and skills within the system rather than having to find new
jobs outside it. The system can keep retraining its own employees in much the same
way that Huawei and other large Chinese companies can develop internal training
programs.
Smaller-scale institutions are always at risk of existing staff hiring new employ-
ees that mirror their own values. Over time, this can lead a ground-breaking high-
performing school to becoming a risk-averse low-performing school, where
continued employment of teaching staff may be valued more highly than future
employability of graduates.
This effect can be described as negative competition or zero sum game in
mathematical terms, where if one person wins a job promotion, their colleague
loses. This builds resentment and friction over years that impedes the mission of the
organisation and success of graduates and cannot be easily remedied in-house.
Using my own experience as a head of school at two universities in Australia and
consultant to others in Singapore and China, I can say the usual response to manage-
ment introducing new learning systems is for employees to become cautious about
having to do more work for the same amount of pay or, worse, losing their jobs
because they are not able to use the new systems.
166 I.W. Lang

6.7 Merging Media Teaching Organisations

In cases of high-friction organisations, government or university executive bodies


may seek greater efficiency by joining similar institutions together, in an academic
version of a commercial merger and acquisition. This has been the case in several
high-profile Australian media-teaching institutions where specialist stand-alone
schools have been merged with large normal universities. Although difficult to mea-
sure in any objective way, graduate and employee feedback suggests that it may take
up to 5 years or more before the benefits of merging outweigh the stress of change.
Experience of mergers suggest that within a 5-year change-management period,
many teaching and administrative employees will be prepared to form alliances
with former rivals in their pre-merger suborganisation, in order to more powerfully
negotiate better employment or redundancy compensation deals with the new com-
mon enemy of the larger merger partner. Chinas current economic conditions and
internationalisation ambitions suggest that similar mergers may be appealing to
regional governments, where very expensive selective entry institutions specialising
in media, performing arts and communication can show greater efficiencies with
higher graduate achievement at international levels, through forced partnership or
simple amalgamation into super schools within China.

6.8 Chinese-Foreign Strategic Collaboration

At an international level, it may take some time and a great degree of mutual under-
standing and good will for the differing cultural systems of Chinese and US educa-
tion, for example, to come to a happy working method in a shared campus or system.
A larger system of linked institutions can help rectify this through cross feeding and
pollination. At a certain point of large critical mass, a university system may pro-
duce most of its future employees in-house whilst maintaining necessary fresh
blood to maintain graduate skills and ensure currency with latest knowledge. This
provides positive competition, with incentive for employees and benefits for grad-
uates. The consistent but controlled movement of teaching employees through the
system, both horizontally and vertically, acts like the circulatory system of the
human body to keep all parts nourished.
The wide range of career choices within a system like SUNY or Cal State can
help avoid rivalry between employees that can occur more obviously in independent
institutions, where job promotion opportunities are fewer and local networks of
favour and obligation become stronger criteria than employee capabilities and qual-
ifications in the allocation of duties. Within Chinas own networked education sys-
tems (including the distance schools of radio and television in use since the late
1960s that anticipated modern e-learning systems), innovative research into more
interactive systems that extend SUNY-style capabilities takes place at the University
of Post and Telecommunications from a technical networking view and at the
Internationalising Chinas Digital Media Literacy Education 167

Communications University of Chinas New media Research Centre. Here, centre


director Zhao Zizhongs work in small-screen phone-delivered television, and inter-
active education content has particular relevance for countries like China with much
higher usage of mobile digital devices than fixed computers that effectively describes
broader Asia Pacific norms. Research in both centres including digital literacy capa-
bilities demonstrated through student-produced content demonstrates creative
achievement at non-stereotyped international standards of creativity and
innovation.

6.9 Transition to New Curriculum

Experienced teachers can be understandably reluctant to migrate to new media edu-


cation techniques that require fundamental reconceptualisation of material prepara-
tion, delivery, interaction and assessment methods. Under these conditions, an
attempt to develop new e-learning programs within single traditional institutions
may meet obstacles. International partnerships have been seen in some cases to be
a way of injecting fresh ideas into existing systems, and these can be seen most
clearly at Beijing Film Academy and the Communication University of China in
direct recruitment of foreign experts to teach in specialist technical and creative
areas. Rather than established singular institutional partnerships, Chinas leading
digital media training institutions have leveraged strategic exchange benefits from
the wider membership of CILECT the international association of film and televi-
sion schools (Centre International de Liaison des Ecoles de Cinema et de Television).
The association has over 160 member institutions from 60 countries. Chinese mem-
ber schools of CILECT include: Beijing Film Academy, Central Academy of
Drama, Communication University of China, Zhejiang University of Media and
Communications, Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts and Hong Kong
Baptist University. Taiwan is represented by the National Taiwan College of Arts
(CILECT 2014).

7 Maintaining National Identity in International Education

7.1 Beginnings of New Market Media Education Exchanges

Stand-alone foreign universities can provide a form of internal internationalising


momentum, if they are able to engage culturally with their host community, as well
as survive economically through necessarily ambitious recruitment targets. This is
the case for New York University establishing a broad humanities teaching presence
in Shanghai, after its stand-alone film and television outpost school in Singapore
closes in 2016. Economic survival is usually dependent on the desirability of the
168 I.W. Lang

foreign hosts brand, combined with broader social and employment targets being
met for the host government to continue providing land and financial subsidies that
effectively provides a licence for the foreign agency to operate. In more immediate
terms, strategic exchange of this type has been made between the Beijing Film
Academy and Australias Griffith University for a 3-year period beginning in 2014,
whereby early career teaching staff from the BFA visit Australia for intensive mas-
ter classes in education and cultural exchange. The exchanges encourage partner
schools to look beyond traditional entertainment industry careers for their students,
expanding training options to support growing demand for digitally literate content
makers in factual training and corporate communication.

7.2 Application of Media Education for New-Economy


Employment

In application to digital media used for factual purposes, as online e-learning sys-
tems become integral to the safe operation of national health-care systems in many
countries, for example, it is likely that whilst operational control and localisation
occur at national levels, higher order standardisation of basic delivery standards and
agreed competency standards recognition will be managed through international
education agencies. International standardisation at this level should increase the
total value of world education markets through diversifying content supply chains
sources and widening foreign end-service distribution, as tertiary education provid-
ers move towards competitively supplying mass-market course components within
their areas of world-ranked speciality.
These components of complete courses will attract low wholesale margin rates
of profitability to suppliers. However, the enormous potential market size for spe-
cialist gold-standard content may encourage further specialisation and reduction of
low-performing disciplines. On an economic level, hyper-specialisation will be
encouraged by declines in real government funding and the formidable difficulties
faced by universities attempting to improve brand prestige by moving up world
ranking tables by improving quality equally in all undertaken disciplines. In this
world, much like the current automotive industry, there is little room for medium-
sized national players. The education market moves steadily towards a dual system
of world-standard mass-education suppliers and world-standard premium service
providers. Their growth will be at the expense of traditional small market suppliers.
The technological forces that make this possible are the same that made the worlds
leading photography company Kodak bankrupt in the digital age.
Internationalising Chinas Digital Media Literacy Education 169

7.3 Lowering Education Delivery Cost to Increase Mass


Outcomes

Local government and consumers will find lower-cost world-class offers more com-
pelling than loyally supporting more expensive yet lower-performing local indus-
tries. This has been the case with western automotive manufacturing, where
manufacturing has moved to lower-cost developing countries, and former manufac-
turing hubs like Detroit City in the USA are now also bankrupt. Whilst Toyota and
Hyundai-like quality-assured standards of mass education may be readily fran-
chised in high-demand developing and even developed world countries, universities
will be further compelled towards premium-branded high margin specialisation for
premium variants. Therefore, it is predictable that tertiary providers seeking to com-
pete at world-standard premium markets will continue to regard standardised
e-learning as a mass-market characteristic and pursue bespoke hybrid models that
provide exclusive access to privileged content.
Whilst premium end services may still maintain strong local identities, mass-
education services by the nature must be geographically and culturally scalable in
their operation and ownership. This approach may be applied to digital learning
standards in the same way that the International Standards Organisation bench-
marks manufacturing industries. The weight of any signatory member in such a
body in practical terms will be determined in part by that members successful
mobilisation of international support for its local and foreign policies, and again, for
China as for Australia, this reinforces the critical nature of soft power. Interactive
e-learning and broader media production skills development have a very limited
range of commercially sensitive information or techniques, and this is mainly in
proprietary computer algorithms for the sifting of big data, which over time enter
the public domain through wide international market pressures not easily attributed
to individual manufacturers with global supply chains. Here, there is a grey area
between information technology and the point at which commercial information
becomes public knowledge.

7.4 Intellectual Property Considerations

As Chinas own rapidly maturing intellectual property development markets now


indicate, few disputes exist where proprietary knowledge offers little commercial
gain. Active intellectual property disputes, however, demonstrate that discoveries of
worth are occurring, and provided due compensatory mechanisms are in place, this
indicates a healthy market. Within digital e-learning and education modernisation,
it is becoming increasingly difficult to enforce any form of commercial trade
restraint on new research, and so attention beyond the immediate scope of this chap-
ter turns on not only how to monetise teaching and learning in an online university
170 I.W. Lang

without walls but how to commercialise online research within traditional business
models.
In terms of public subsistence, governments may come to expect that those few
institutions able to claim global leadership via customised combinations of online
and face-to-face programs will ultimately prosper without public funds but proba-
bly require considerable public and private capital to reach this level. If western
patterns of education funding accompany Chinas own transition to developed econ-
omy status, the majority of non-world leading institutions focussed on national and
regional service will face every greater funding constraints leading to greater uptake
of e-learning from an economic view. High levels of digital literacies applied to the
development of e-learning programs will increase their cascading effect on growing
industry employment and productivity.

8 Conclusion

8.1 Traditional Education Limits on Growth

The development of new national media literacies through Chinas existing media
training institutions is likely to lead to limited efficiencies in the subsequent employ-
ment of these skills for meeting national soft-power objectives in foreign markets.
Foreign solutions for curricula integration of digital literacies are useful but require
considerable Chinese localisation to be effective. Sub-localisation can occur at
regional levels to meet local needs without threatening sovereignty. International
soft-power goals will be reached more quickly through clear expression of meta-
curricula objectives facilitated by increased digital literacy. This may require spe-
cialist support.
The continuing use of specialist international teachers and exchange of Chinese
teachers to strategic foreign universities will continue to deepen Chinas digital pre-
paredness in ways that assist traditional education providers adapt their curriculum
to digital economy demands. Foreign interaction through associations such as
CILECT can be shown to achieve internationalisation objectives by allowing
Chinas partner institutions to not only examine foreign methods from multiple pro-
viders but to see how foreign national associations have developed to provide stra-
tegic self-help networks also. For example, both Europe and the USA have strong
regional associations of digital media education providers that provide sub-sections
of the CILECT network. In Europe this is called GEECT (Groupement European
des Ecoles de Cinema et de Television). In the USA, the equivalent group is the
UFVA (University Film and Video Association). China is represented in the smaller
but rapidly growing CILECT Asia Pacific Association (CILECT 2014).
Internationalising Chinas Digital Media Literacy Education 171

8.2 Importance of Strategic Digital Literacy and Cooperation

Once established, Chinas ability to scale up foundations in digital literacy to


national levels will be pivotal to the success of wide-scale workforce retraining and
cyclical life-long learning. Whilst maintaining the autonomy of existing media
training schools for producing new content makers for film, television, radio and
print, a compelling case exists for the expansion of content creation skills defined
by new media for use in a wide variety of disciplines to communicate Chinas
achievements and challenges more accurately to the world and to show equally
sincere interest in the achievements and challenges of others. Development of supe-
rior content creation skills particularly for factual communication may serve both
national competiveness of new-economy knowledge-based industries and enhance
Chinas international prestige and foreign trust.

References

Ang Lee, dir. (2000). Crouching tiger, hidden dragon, (film), China Film Co-Production
Corporation, Columbia Pictures Film Production Asia, Sony Pictures Classics, Good Machine,
EDKO Film Hong Kong, Zoom Hunt International Productions Company Pty Ltd, Taiwan,
United China Vision, Asia Union Film & Entertainment Ltd.
Blue Book 2013. (2013). The China Society Yearbook (2013). Beijing: Chinese Academy of
Social Sciences.
Bok, D. (2014, January 1). Higher Education Misconceived. Caijing, http://english.caijing.com.
cn/2014-01-10/113802557.html. Accessed 9 Dec 2014.
CILECT. (2014). The International Association of Film and Television Schools, Membership list-
ing, http://www.cilect.org/groups/view/101. Accessed 15 Dec 2014.
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2006) Foreword: Developing creativity. In N. Jackson, M. Oliver, M. Shaw
& J. Wisdom (Eds.), Developing creativity in higher education: An imaginative curriculum
(pp. xviiixx). London: Routledge
Gong Yidong. (2009, May 7). Cry for freedom. China Daily, http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/
cndy/2009-05/07/content_7751609.htm. Accessed 12 Dec 2014.
Lang, I. (2014a, August 18). Author interview with Director, Shanghai Theatre Academy, Shanghai.
Lang, I. (2014b, August 20). Author interview with China Daily journalist, Beijing.
Lang, I. (2014c, August 21). Author interview with Austin Jun Luo. Beijing: Beijing Normal
University.
Li Wuwei. (2011). How creativity is changing China. London: Bloomsbury Academic.
Stanford University. https://art.stanford.edu/documentary-film-and-video/student-awards.
Accessed 8 Feb 2015.
The Future of Media Literacy Education
in China: The Way Forward

C.K. Cheung

Abstract Media literacy education cannot stand by itself, independent of societal


development, technological advancement, cultural values, and the media environ-
ment, so more research needs to be done to examine the different modes of develop-
ing media literacy education in different societies. While the development and
implementation of media literacy education in China has made a promising start,
there is still a long way to go. In this concluding chapter, the issues of the availabil-
ity of support and resources, collaboration with other fields of study, the quality of
research, and media production as experiential learning and vocational training are
identified for further consideration.

Keywords Collaboration Media production Experiential learning Vocational


training Research quality

1 Introduction

There has been increasing discussion of media literacy education in recent years,
and more and more countries have adopted it in their curricula in one way or another.
Moreover, research has been, and is being, conducted to examine further different
aspects of media literacy education. The recent development in information tech-
nology witnesses an exponential growth in netizens, and the already existence of
clouding services, social media, and the semantic web will accelerate the growth
and circulation of information (Taylor 2012). The future is a world of multiple lit-
eracies in media convergence (Buckingham 2007), and we need to be addressing the
multiple literacies that are required by the whole range of contemporary forms of
communication, and the government needs to respond quickly to so cultivate media-
literate citizens.
Media literacy education cannot stand by itself, independent of societal develop-
ment, technological advancement, cultural values, and the media environment, so

C.K. Cheung (*)


Faculty of Education, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong
e-mail: cheungck@hku.hk

Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2016 173


C.K. Cheung, Media Literacy Education in China,
DOI 10.1007/978-981-10-0045-4_12
174 C.K. Cheung

more research needs to be done to examine different modes of developing media


literacy education in different societies. While the development and implementation
of media literacy education in China has made a promising start, there is still a long
way to go. This book outlines some of the issues and themes that should be consid-
ered in the further development of media literacy education in China, and the rich
information provided in this book can be used for further exploration. In this con-
cluding chapter, I identify a number of areas for further consideration.

2 The Availability of Support and Resources

Although media literacy education, like other innovative programs, started as a


grassroots movement with teachers taking the initiative, its ultimate success very
much depends on the role of the government. The work by Howard et al. (2010)
noted the importance of government policy in the promotion and education of media
literacy.
In Canada, for example, the late Barry Duncan first initiated media education in
his lessons, and later on, he formed the Association for Media Literacy in Ontario
in the 1970s for media educators as a platform to promote media education. It is
important to understand that there is no national body in Canada that regulates edu-
cation policies. Jurisdiction over education in Canada is the responsibility of indi-
vidual provinces. Still, the Federal Government is responsible for providing
monetary resources to the provinces. Therefore, for example, in western Canada,
the development of curriculum frameworks, in which media literacy is included,
often occurs through the collaboration of the Western Canadian Protocol for
Collaboration in Basic Education (WCP), comprising British Columbia, Alberta,
Saskatchewan, Manitoba, the Northwest Territories, Yukon, and Nunavut. In east-
ern Canada, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince
Edward Island make up the Atlantic Provinces Education Foundation (APEF). The
WCP and APEF have been instrumental in seeing that media education is part of
education reform in their specific provinces and territories (Cheung and Rother
2006).
In Europe, the ministries of education of various European countries established
an educational curriculum related to media literacy. The European Commission has
written reports of the implementation of media literacy education in different
European countries and is now preparing a report on media literacy levels across
Europe (EC 2015).
In Asia, Cheungs (2009) study also recognized the importance of the govern-
ment in the development of media literacy education. Cheung noted: Though the
development of media education, as has been observed in many countries, begins
with a bottom-up movement, its continual growth requires the blessing of the gov-
ernment, with a policy that may directly or indirectly help the development of media
education (p. 5).
The Future of Media Literacy Education in China: The Way Forward 175

In the case of China, support from the government has been apparent in the last
10 years. However, in order to achieve success, the support must be strategic. There
should be central resources provided by the government earmarked for the research
and development of media literacy education for the country as a whole and for
individual provinces in particular. The central government needs to address the
emerging themes of media literacy education and let each province decide on their
own subthemes and research agendas and organize conferences to explore the many
issues related to media literacy education in China. Furthermore, media literacy
education should not be limited in schools. As media becomes an important part of
everybodys daily life, the government should explore the opportunities of offering
media literacy education to every citizen to equip them with the necessary compe-
tencies to participate effectively as informed citizens.

3 Collaboration with Other Fields of Study

It should be noted that there has been quite a lot of collaboration between universi-
ties and schools in China in the development and implementation of media literacy
education as well as in the gathering of research evidence on different issues related
to media literacy education. As shown in this book, such collaboration is appropri-
ate as a number of primary and secondary schools are affiliated to universities.
Academics from universities can act as facilitators and developers of the curriculum
and teaching materials, as well as researchers gathering data and evidence. While
support from teachers is inevitable, unlike many countries, involvement from other
stakeholders in China such as religious organizations as well as the participation of
parents in media literacy education has yet to be seen. The potential support of reli-
gious groups is obvious as they are concerned with the moral development of stu-
dents. Religious educators are well aware of the potentially negative impact of the
media. Although it is extremely difficult, or even impossible, to prevent young
people from being exposed to media messages, is it possible to empower them with
the ability to discern and decide? Media literacy education seems to be a possible
means of achieving this. The support of the church for media education was noted
by Buckingham (2003) when he stated:
In many countries, churches have played a major role in promoting media education outside
the formal education systemIn some cases, media education has been seen as a means of
opposing the consumerist and anti-Christian values which are seen to be promoted by
the media (p. 100).

This is not yet happening in China, which is understandable as China, deeply


rooted in communism, is an atheist country. However, that is changing fast as many
people in China seek meaning and spiritual comfort that neither communism nor
capitalism seem to provide and the number of Catholics and other Christians is
increasing (Tiedemann 2010). The government could work in partnership with
176 C.K. Cheung

religious organization to conduct surveys and prepare teaching materials for the
further development of media literacy education.
Furthermore, the possibility of collaboration in the research and development of
media literacy education and other fields of study is inevitable. Till now, not many
countries offer media literacy as a stand-alone subject in the primary and/or second-
ary curriculum, but it is taught in an integrated manner in subjects like social stud-
ies, ethics education, language education, and health studies. In universities, media
literacy education is mainly taught under the areas of education, journalism, film
studies, and communications, but now, particularly in this technologically advanced
era, areas such as arts education, social psychology, global studies, and political
science could easily draw their relationship with media literacy education, and
related courses like information and media literacy and media studies become popu-
lar electives to be chosen by students.

4 The Quality of Research

While collaboration with partners to promote media literacy education is important,


the quality of the related research in this field is also significant. Much of the
research in China still centers around the whys of media literacy education, very
often driven by surveys among youths, and recognizes the amount of time that
young people spend on the media and the possible negative influences of the media
on the youths. Most of the research papers are quite descriptive in nature and repeti-
tive in many ways. Furthermore, many of them are published in Chinese and not
able to reach an international audience for more constructive dialogue and collabo-
ration, leading to its further development.
To promote the significance of media literacy education further, the time has now
come for more academic research conducted in a vigorous manner, with solid evi-
dence to substantiate the various claims that are made about what media literacy
education can achieve. Research should not be limited to surveys, listing the reasons
for media literacy education, such as the protection of children. There should be
more research on the learning and teaching aspects of media literacy education, and
evidence of the effectiveness of its implementation is also valuable.
Evidence should be gathered from an international body of research in areas such
as, but not limited to, the following: media arts, special education, gifted education,
library studies, consumer education, health education, language education, cultural
and social studies, youth studies, arts and visual education, psychology, and civic
and political education. There also needs to be an international collaboration on
issues of mutual concern.
It would be ideal if there were at least one journal on media literacy education in
China for researchers, teachers, and other practitioners at all levels. Such a journal
should aim to provide researchers with the means to publish their work in full in a
journal exclusively dedicated to media literacy education, offering teachers at all
levels a place where they can share effective ideas and pedagogies for teaching and
The Future of Media Literacy Education in China: The Way Forward 177

learning media and information literacy. Most importantly, such a journal would
bridge the gap between researchers and practitioners so that researchers would have
their findings seen by those who could benefit from using them and practitioners
would gain from encountering the ideas and results of those who have made a par-
ticular study of the learning process. The journal should cover all stages of the
professional development of media educators and researchers. It should serve as a
forum for examining institutional, societal, and cultural influences that have an
impact on teachers learning and ultimately their students learning. It would enable
a community of media educators and researchers to come together as a learning hub
to address issues and research agendas in media literacy education. The journal
could connect researchers in China to researchers in the rest of the world through
international collaboration in research on, and the development of, media literacy
education, as quite a number of students and teachers of media literacy education
have already had opportunities to visit universities in foreign countries as part of
their universities attachment programs.

5 From Knowledge Consumer to Knowledge Producer:


Media Production as Experiential Learning
and Vocational Training

Dewey (1938) recognized the importance of experience and learning by doing as an


important aspect of knowledge acquisition. Now, the digital world allows easy
access to words, sounds, images, and moving images in volume and speed. What is
more, people can participate and interact. It is no longer the case that students have
to rely solely on teachers for information. The nature of knowledge is being rede-
fined by a new media landscape that allows all participants to be media producers
and owners. Digital natives have something to teach educators, and young people
are in a position now more than ever before to contribute to the systems and pro-
cesses that they are part of.
Media literacy education is not just about watching films, reading newspapers,
and encoding values behind advertisements. It is also about actively engaging with
media practice, theory, and production. Thanks to the advancement of technology,
media production, as part of media literacy education, has become easier. Media
production on the part of students is important as it provides a platform for students
to immerse themselves in learning through exploring and doing. Students are able
to achieve the higher order thinking skills in Blooms taxonomy of learning by
using the principles of media literacy in the construction of media presentations
such as video, blogs, and podcasts. McLaren et al. (1995) asserted that media pro-
duction could empower students to learn the techniques and conventions. It empow-
ers students to be both critical thinkers and creative producers of an increasingly
wide range of messages using image, language, and sound (Frechette 2002).
178 C.K. Cheung

Apart from promoting engagement in learning, media production is also impor-


tant in enabling participants to move away from being media consumers to being
media producers. Students can transform themselves from being passive receivers
to being active participants by looking into the everyday happenings in their lives
through media production and by participating as informed citizens. Furthermore,
not only is media production a means of participation; its vocational value has also
been noted (McDougall and Livingstone 2014). It can support creativity, entrepre-
neurism, innovation, and digital literacies. Students of media literacy education are
commonly found to be engaged in the media as well as the entertainment industry.
In the UK, according to the Office of National Statistics 2013 report, people with a
degree in media have the second highest employment rate there. In China, the IT
industry is growing rapidly. For example, Tencent, Inc., founded in November 1998,
has grown into Chinas largest and most used Internet service portal. Alibaba
Company, founded in 1998 and focusing on e-commerce, was listed on the New York
Stock Exchange in 2014. These two companies employ a large number of employ-
ees in media production. Furthermore, the entertainment industry is growing at a
rapid rate with Chinas box office forecast to rise from US$3.13bn in 2013 to
US$5.9bn by 2018, according to PwCs Global entertainment and media outlook
20142018. China is already the second-largest cinema market in the world, and the
countrys film entertainment industry continues to boom. Students equipped with
media production skills have great employment prospects.

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