July 2, 2022

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war, social media and the urgent need to update how we teach English

The war in Ukraine is staying described as the first social media war, even as “the TikTok war”. Memes, tweets, films and blog site posts connect both equally vital information and facts and propaganda, potentially altering the class of history. This highlights the importance of agile and vital social media use.

English in colleges, in distinction, nonetheless focuses on studying publications and composing examination essays. Despite mentions of media in the Australian Curriculum for English, the study of electronic crafting through social media is not prioritised in senior evaluation or countrywide higher-stakes screening. This strategy would seem progressively out of contact with fashionable communication.

Meme-ification is a feature of media coverage of the Ukraine war. This new word describes the explosion of common people today generating shareable, and perhaps influential, digital articles.

Any one with a smartphone and world wide web access can take part in a war that is currently being fought both equally on the floor and on digital platforms. And this content material often references other common electronic culture. For instance, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is portrayed as Captain Ukraine by photoshopping his head on to Marvel’s Captain America’s physique and tweeting this image.




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Guns, tanks and Twitter: how Russia and Ukraine are working with social media as the war drags on


English schooling for our age

This “writing” contributes to narratives and debates about heroism, army morale, admirer fiction and US cultural imperialism. This type of rapid, lively and world wide conversation requires to be the foundation of review in English.

The skill to critically eat and strategically make social media is critical to the wellness of democracies. Yet creating for social media posts and impressive platforms this sort of as Twitter, TikTok and Fb is not central to how we teach English.

Learners have to have to be in a position to create memes, create rolling information weblogs and produce electronic news podcasts, all for networked audiences. They need to ascertain aims, invent concepts, manipulate visuals, combine various media, compose powerful text and respect copyright legislation. This is impactful and purposeful crafting to achieve influence in the world.

Investigation initiatives such as the Digital Self Portrait venture display how learners can build vivid new types of “writing” that check out tensions between their own digitally abundant lives and common literacies.

Digital writing is frequently collaborative, and a current Australian Schooling Study Organisation critique suggests a lot more collaborative crafting in lecture rooms. Local community organisations these types of as Publish4Change are building this probable by connecting youth to produce alongside one another utilizing electronic media through private, communal and moderated web sites on mainstream platforms.




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In an age of digital disinformation, dropping degree 1 media scientific tests in NZ high educational institutions is a big blunder


Our solution is out-of-date

But education’s higher-stakes evaluation regimes never benefit these sorts of composing. Sadly, the Countrywide Evaluation Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) has narrowed the kinds of crafting taught in educational institutions even further. A person sample NAPLAN crafting undertaking says, in essence, “Here is a photo of a box. Compose a story about it.”

This approach needs to adjust so learners are practising the sorts of producing and interaction that are meaningful in today’s planet. This will assist citizens of the long run to participate fully in workplaces and, most importantly, in democracies.

The Australian authorities, as a result of the Australian Research Council, has recognised this and funded a new examine into the importance of modern writing in education and learning. This is by means of a Discovery Early Job Analysis Award (DECRA) titled Training digital composing in secondary English. This project will take a look at how teachers can conceptualise and enact the educating of actual-entire world producing.




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It’s not a decision of classics or digital creating

Of class, finding out the classics stays significant, as does mastering simple abilities. Zelenskyy himself quoted Hamlet in a recent tackle to the British parliament. So this is not an either/or predicament, but what digital composing expert Professor Troy Hicks phone calls “the two/and”. We can analyze both equally Hamlet as a perform and how other media estimate its principal character in impressive techniques.

Students can by themselves discover producing strategic literary references in their individual social media posts and interventions. The study of rhetoric (argument and persuasion) and aesthetics (cultural price) desires to include assorted media for present-day relevance.

Human conflicts, projects, imaginings and achievements are now taking place in new forms. The devastating theatre of war enjoying out in Ukraine and online has made available “a masterclass in concept”.

If a key goal of Australia’s compulsory literacy schooling is to “produce assured communicators, imaginative thinkers and educated citizens” then pupils have to have to master to talk in the modes of up to date culture. They require to delight in the engagement and mastering that comes from participating in truly significant dialogues and situations, even if just in protected classroom and college-primarily based variations of these.

Social media use likely each threatens and supports democracy. But media schooling stays devalued in the English curriculum and classroom, mostly in favour of reproducing print literature forms and essays.

It is time for English to be part of the 21st century and embrace all the diverse and electronic means of interaction that are element of our lives today. Our liberty and futures depend on it.