PublicationsSystematic reviewsICT & moving imagesICT & moving images - policy-maker
A systematic review of the impact of ICT on the learning of literacies associated with moving image texts in English, 5-16. Policy-maker perspective

Summary of results

  • It is possible to make systematic judgements about emerging theoretical models of moving image literacy
  • There can be a beneficial impact on writing (and to a lesser extent, reading) of engagement with digital moving image media
  • Digital moving image production can increase students' motivation, self-worth and self-esteem.

Research question

What is the impact of ICT on the learning of literacies associated with moving image texts in English?


This sub-review focuses on 'moving image literacy' and asks how the use of ICT impacts on its development. It defines such literacy as:

  • Cultural awareness and knowledge of moving image texts
  • The ability to interpret systematic patterns of meaning in such texts
  • The ability to design and produce visual, moving image or multimedia texts.

In recent years there has been a growth of engagement with digital technologies in schools and pupils have been encouraged to produce their own moving image texts. Although easier to resource in secondary schools, primary schools are increasingly taking this technology on board. It is helping to expand concepts of 'literacy' and to link what happens in schools with the cultural practices and use of digital media in the outside world.

There is no history of research reviews in this field, but only a number of small, isolated research projects. Research institutions with a specialist interest in this area, in particular the British Film Institute (BFI), have recently begun to develop materials for use in the classroom and are encouraging more extended programmes of action research with teachers.


Relevant research was selected from studies in the database already created by the EPPI Centre English Review Group, using the keyword 'moving images'. Additional electronic and hand searches were made. It was decided that the selected studies should be rooted in some theoretical basis which clarified or developed the nature of moving image literacy, since understanding of this is poorly developed among teachers and researchers.

Several exclusion criteria were then applied:

  • Studies which are not explorations of relationships or evaluations
  • Studies whose theoretical basis does not incorporate a model of moving image literacy or communicative practice
  • Studies which do not investigate the relationship between this literacy and ICTs
  • Studies of contexts other than 5-16 education
  • Studies of subject domains other than English and media education, and their broad equivalents.

A total of twelve studies were identified using the keyword 'moving image', and an additional study was included that investigated the relationship between writing and computer games. The majority focused on older children but there were three BFI-related studies which looked at the use of animation software with children in English primary schools. These twelve studies were reduced to nine after the application of the exclusion criteria.


Author, date Educational setting Focus
Burn, (2000) UK Secondary - two male GCSE students Making video trailers for Psycho using digital editing software
Burn and Parker(2001) UK Primary classes on secondary-run project Designing and making computer animations
Burn and Reed(1999) UK Secondary - four female GCSE students Making video trailers for Psycho using digital editing software
Burn et al. (2001) UK Three groups of students in three different secondary schools Digital video editing
McClay (2002) Canada 13 year-old boy Influence of video games on self-sponsored writing
Mackereth and Anderson (2000) Australia Year group of 15 to17 year-old girls. Prior experience of, and access to, computer games
O'Brien et al.(2002) USA Nine 'at risk' secondary learners Multimedia productions
Parker (1999) UK Two Year 3 primary school classes Film adaptation of book, animation software, effect on writing
Parker (2002) UK Primary BFI-linked3 development projects exploring relationships between moving literacy and print literacy through the use of Story Shorts, Edit-Play and Animation for Storytelling.

Taken together, these studies provide a tentative model of moving image literacy:

  • It is a communicative practice
  • It is rooted in the cultural experiences of children across a wide range of media
  • It includes both the interpretation and production of moving image media
  • It should be a literacy recognised by formal education.

These studies also suggest that engagement with digital moving image media may lead to improvements in writing, students' motivation and self-esteem. However, more studies need to be examined before firm conclusions can be drawn. This might well be an area of literacy that has developed rapidly in schools since 2002, and so not fully covered by the search deadline. The review does, however, help to extend concepts of literacy that can help to inform educational practice.

Implications for local education authorities (LEAs)

As more schools purchase interactive whiteboards, children are increasingly being introduced to electronic and interactive texts. At present, the National Literacy Strategy only includes the moving image in its coverage of "reading". The emphasis on production in these studies makes a strong case for it to be also regarded as a form of 'writing'.

Nationally, pupils' attainment in writing tends to lag behind that in reading and LEAs are greatly exercised in developing strategies to close the gap. These research studies highlight the benefits on writing of encouraging pupils to produce their own moving image texts. Such production would appear to have aided understanding of narrative and genre; encouraged pupils to write for longer duration; led to measurable increases in literacy (both reading and writing); and improved pupil motivation. LEAs should highlight this potential in their work with teachers.

The review found that the production of moving image texts tended to be more common in secondary than primary schools, no doubt due to the high cost of the technology involved. There are, however, several things that primary schools can do to try to mitigate this. Many LEAs contain City Technology Colleges (CLCs) or their equivalent that are often very willing to loan digital video equipment and accompanying software to primary schools. Primary schools could also liaise with their local secondary school to set up joint projects as part of their work on primary-secondary transition. Schools should also be directed towards some of the excellent educational materials being produced free of charge by the BFI.


Burn A (2000) Repackaging the slasher movie: digital unwriting of film in the classroom. English in Australia 127-128: 24-34.

Burn A, Reed K (1999) Digi-teens: media literacies and digital technologies in the secondary classroom. English in Education 33: 5-20.

Burn A, Parker D (2001) Making your mark: digital inscription, animation, and a new visual semiotic. Education, Communication and Information 1: 155-179.

Burn A, Brindley S, Durran J, Kelsall C, Sweetlove J (2001) 'The rush of images': a research report into digital editing and the moving image. English in Education 35: 34-47.

McClay JK (2002) Hidden 'treasure': new genres, new media and the teaching of writing. English in Education 36: 46-55.

Mackereth M, Anderson J (2000) Computers, video games, and literacy: what do girls think? Australian Journal of Language and Literacy 23: 184-195.

O' Brien DG, Springs R, Stith D (2001) Engaging at-risk high school students: literacy learning in a high school literacy lab. In: Moje EB, O'Brien DG (eds) Constructions of Literacy: Studies of Teaching and Learning in and out of Secondary Schools. Mahwah, NJ, US: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc, pages 105-123.

Parker D (1999) You've read the book, now make the film: moving image media, print literacy and narrative. English in Education 33: 24-35.

Parker D (2002) Show us a story: an overview of recent research and resource development work at the British Film Institute. English in Education 36: 38-45. 

The writer works for Kingston upon Hull LEA as a Primary National Strategy consultant, with a particular responsibility for literacy.

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