Media Education for whom?
A case study on an international Media Education MA program

Background

As part of a prominent trend of internationalization of higher education, the Media Education MA program in the Faculty of Education at the University of Lapland was opened for international students in 2010. The program’s annual intake of 16 students was increased by an additional intake of max. 20 international MA students. In addition, the courses taught in English have been open for international exchange students already before the international MA program was launched.

These changes in student population require that the teaching staff is able to deal with and benefit from the different cultural perspectives of students representing, in this case, around 15 nationalities. In terms of pedagogy, it means drawing on new approaches in order to create more inclusive learning environments.


Objectives

The study used as its theoretical lens Barab and Roth’s (2006) concepts of curriculum-based ecosystems, affordance networks, life-worlds, and effectivity sets which they have proposed for teachers, curriculum developers, and instructional material authors. Following Barab and Roth’s conceptualization, the international Media Education MA curriculum was understood as an affordance network, that is, as “a collection of facts, concepts, tools, methods, practices, agendas, commitments, and even people, taken with respect to an individual, that are distributed across time and space and are viewed as necessary for the satisfaction of a particular goal set” (p. 5). One of the core challenges of education is developing curricular contexts that extend themselves meaningfully into the personal life-worlds (i.e. environment from the perspective of an individual) of learners.

This study aimed to explore how the challenges brought by the international student population have been met at the University of Lapland’s Media Education MA program by studying its' curriculum on three levels: planned, enacted and experienced curriculum. The study focused on the following research questions through using student interviews (focus groups), MA in Media Education curriculum, and The University of Lapland Internationalization Program as research data:

• How are students’ life worlds included and represented in the curriculum?
• How multicultural are the affordance networks written into the curriculum?

Researchers and Schedule

This case study was conducted as part of A School for all project. The research was conducted during February - April, 2013.

The researchers were:

Päivi Hakkarainen, University Lecturer in Media Education
Mikko Hautakangas, Lecturer in Media Education (fixed-term)
Sai Väyrynen, Scientific Director, A School for All project


Publications

Hakkarainen, P., Hautakangas, M., & Väyrynen, S. (submitted). Designing culturally inclusive affordance networks into the curriculum. Manuscript submitted for publication.