One of the key interim findings from the Schools Fieldwork component of the Australian Screen Content in Education project is that there seem to be four broad categories of screen content used by teachers and students in classrooms. These are ‘signature’ content; ‘favourite’ content; ‘teachable moment’ content and ‘in the moment’ content.
Briefly, ‘signature’ screen content consists of feature films and documentaries that become the centrepiece of study in the classroom.
‘Favourite’ screen content consists of those programs or program episodes that teachers use as they are such a good curriculum ‘fit’.
‘Teachable moment’ content is highly relevant content about a current issue, event or occurrence.
Finally, ‘in the moment’ screen content is woven into a lesson for illustrative purposes, to provoke a response or to explain a concept.
There is obvious potential for overlap in these categories – for instance, a segment of a feature film may be used as ‘in the moment’ content; or ‘favourite’ content may be used as a ‘teachable moment’, as it may align to a current event. If we are willing to accept the four categories as broadly representative, though, there are some interesting observations to be made.
There is a general continuum of formality from ‘signature’ content (usually highly formal) through to ‘in the moment’ content (which most often consist of YouTube clips). There is also a general pattern in cost: signature content is typically most expensive (per item) and ‘in the moment’ content least expensive. Identifiably ‘Australian’ content is more likely to be ‘signature content’ or ‘favourite’ content, while the source of ‘teachable moment’ and ‘in the moment’ content seems less important to teachers. It is notable that ‘signature’ and ‘favourite’ content seem to be less regularly used by teachers than ‘teachable moment’ or ‘in the moment’ content. That is, teachers report that they more frequently use brief YouTube clips rather than feature films, documentaries or program episode excerpts.
This has significant implications for Australian screen producers because the most frequently used clips are freely available on YouTube. Producers of ‘signature’ content are likely to see their productions used in schools only when they become very central to students’ learning – for instance, where they become the object of study, rather than being part of the more general flow of ‘in the moment’ or ‘teachable moment’ content. Few teachers have time to screen a feature length documentary or feature film unless it very centrally supports learning across several weeks of class time (as might occur with a film adaptation of a classic Australian novel). Likewise, television content is most likely to be screened in the classroom when it becomes part of teachers’ ‘favourite’ bank of resources – but this is likely to be screened only once or twice in a Unit of work, whereas teachers tell us they screen brief YouTube clips on a much more regular basis.
Image Copyright. M Dezuanni 2015