The Australian Screen Content in Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Education: Uses and Potential project is a Queensland University of Technology research project supported by the Australian Research Council (ARC) in partnership with Screen Australia, The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) and the Australian Children’s Television Foundation (ACTF).

QUT researchers are investigating the use of Australian screen content in primary, secondary and tertiary education.  From 2014-2016, researchers and investigators are undertaking a national survey of schools and universities, and conducting in-depth interviews with hundreds of industry representatives, teachers, principals, librarians and students. Little is known about the specific classroom use of screen content across the curriculum and within specialist areas like media studies. Producers have only anecdotal information about which types of content are most useful to teachers and students, what kinds of support materials are most helpful and which screen content experiences students respond to best. The project aims to develop a comprehensive picture of why, how, how much and where Australian screen content is used in education.

The Australian Screen Content project is occurring at a significant time for the screen production industries and for education. New media technologies are making it increasingly possible to access and interact with screen content on different kinds of screens and through different media, both on and offline. Students are able to produce their own screen content and can download and rearrange screen content, making it possible for screen producers to provide new educational experiences for students. New media literacies are essential for 21st century learning and the Media Arts strand of the new Australian Arts curriculum requires students to interact with screen content as a mandatory aspect of learning up to year 6; and as a possible in-depth learning pathway up to year 12. In this context, both legacy titles from the canon of Australian film history and new forms of screen content like games and apps have the potential to provide students with important and engaging learning experiences.

Screen content is not only used in Media Arts, however. This project is interested in the ways in which Australian screen content is used across all curriculum areas to enhance student learning and engagement.

What is Australian Screen Content?
Australian screen content includes narrative feature length and short films, documentaries, television programs, video games, touch screen apps, online education portals and other forms of new media content that have been produced or developed in Australia by Australian content producers. In addition, the project examines the support or bridging materials that are produced to help students and teachers use screen content in productive ways.

What does the Project Involve?
The project includes the following key activities: national surveys of school teachers, librarians and university lecturers; archival and statistical research; industry interviews; fieldwork in schools and universities Australia-wide including interviews with teachers, librarians and lecturers, focus groups with students, and classroom observations. Case studies of how different types of screen content are produced and then used in educational contexts will also take place. The national surveys will be conducted during 2014-15, with the aim of gathering data on the availability and utility of Australian screen content across all curriculum areas. The industry interviews provide in-depth information about the challenges facing screen producers and insight into how they are responding to the particular challenges and opportunities of supplying content to the education market.

The field work and case studies to be undertaken in 2015 and 2016 will allow the research team to gain an understanding of why and how screen content is used within classrooms around Australia and how students respond to it at different year levels across the curriculum. The researchers will observe classrooms using Australian screen content and will talk to teachers and students about what works and what doesn’t. Case studies of the production and use of specific screen content titles will include a mix of long and short form, interactive and linear content developed by the ABC, SBS, ACTF and Screen Australia, among others. A PhD student attached to the project, Prue Miles, is based at SBS to research the development of screen content materials for educational use.

What will be the Project Outcomes?
The Australian Screen Content project will produce important outcomes for both the screen industries and for the education sector. Two online guides will be produced; one to inform Australian screen content producers about best practices in educational research design; and one for schools and other educational institutions illustrating best practice in the educational use of Australian screen content. The project will inform policy development, stimulate content production and distribution and increase awareness of the availability and utility of Australian screen content in educational settings. This is an exceptional opportunity for the Australian screen industries and educators who are committed to providing students with exceptional learning experiences.

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