This is one of five 'systematic in-depth reviews' carried out for the Evidence for Policy and Practice Information Centre (EPPI Centre) by members of the English Review Group, each looking at a different aspect of how Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has affected literacy learning. It suggests that moving image texts can have a positive impact on some aspects of literacy learning, but that this impact is still dependent on effective teaching.
The review question is 'What is the impact of ICT on the learning of literacies associated with moving image texts in English?' This, in turn, is helping to answer an overarching research question: 'What is the impact of ICT on literacy learning in English, 5-16?'
Two related aims of the study are to find theoretical models of moving image literacy which might inform future practice, and to identify gaps which might be addressed by future research.
There is wide belief in governments and schools that ICT is beneficial to learning, including the development of literacy. This belief has fuelled the investment in 'new technologies' in schools.
However, there is a growing concern that this investment is not yet making a clear impact on levels of literacy. It is this concern that has given rise to this research.
Of course, the question is complicated by the fact that 'literacy' cannot be measured in isolation from these 'new technologies'. There is now a political, social and educational acceptance that to be 'literate' is - in part - to understand and control these technologies.
A search of databases found 13 pieces of research from between 1990 and 2002 which were relevant. These were screened for soundness of method and relevance to the research question. Only nine were considered of sufficient 'weight' for inclusion in the review.
A number of findings emerged from the studies:
- Working with moving image media can benefit literacy as it is broadly defined - developing pupils' notions of genre, narrative, audience and composition, for example
- There are tentative findings that work with digital moving image media can benefit print literacy
- There is evidence that social semiotic theories of communication are useful for understanding how pupils learn about the moving image
- Pupils' developing media literacy is inextricably bound up with their cultural lives
- There is evidence for the motivational impact of work with moving image technologies.
The review does lend strength to the following suggestions:
- Teachers need to work with a broad notion of literacy and textuality, which accommodates the moving image
- Policy needs to support moving image production alongside 'reading' - at the time the review was carried out it featured only in the 'Reading' section of the National Curriculum
- The curriculum needs to acknowledge and incorporate pupils' experience of moving image technologies and texts in their own cultural lives
- Social-semiotic theories of the 'grammar' of moving images should inform teachers' work with moving image technologies
- Moving image production should be addressed beyond the English curriculum - in the Arts generally and in any ICT curriculum, distributed across subjects
- There are opportunities for important further research - of greater depth and combining qualitative and quantitative study.
The writer is an advanced skills teacher at a community college in Cambridge and a member of the Advisory Group for the review. This perspective is written in a personal capacity.