Media literacy in Spain
Summary. This paper gives a brief history of Media Literacy in Spain and describes the many changes until now: the actors implied (education, regulators, industry, civilian society) are aware of the importance of media literacy and media education and actions have been addressed at strengthening this issue. However, these efforts are generally uncoordinated and lack planning.
The development of media literacy is described from the 60s, when some education institutions used media as a teaching tool in the classroom, to the late 90s, with the boom of NICTs and Internet and media convergence, which was reflected in the concept of digital literacy, and later, media literacy.
With regard to continuous education, the article raises the issue of teacher training programs and training at Postgraduate level. It also explains the process of including the subject in the Educational Curriculum. Regarding research and initiatives, it goes over some of the work carried out by national institutions and civilian associations.
Finally, the article explores the prospects for Media Literacy in Spain, following the passing of the Ley General de la Comunicación Audiovisual (General Law on Audiovisual Communication (LGCA, 2010), and suggests an optimist future based on the establishment of the Consejo Estatal de Medios Audiovisuales (National Council of Audiovisual -CEMA).
Keywords: media literacy, digital literacy, media policy.
From «media education» to «digital literacy»
Media literacy and media education are issues of current concern in Spain. Teachers, politicians, NGOs, opinion leaders, regulators, etc. are aware of the importance of this field. Actions and projects have been addressed at strengthening media literacy. However, these actions are generally uncoordinated and lack planning. The development of the media literacy movement has been similar in Spain to elsewhere in Europe. In the 60s, some educational institutions used media as a teaching tool in the classroom. The first media resources used were movies that engendered cinema clubs where people debated cinema. In the 70s, the General Law on Education (LGE, 1970) (1) promoted the use of media in schools, but only in a pragmatic and instrumental way, as a tool to support formal education. In 1980 the Audiovisual Media Commission was created by the Ministry of Education. One of its duties was «to conduct studies and make proposals to develop and achieve a more effective use of audiovisual media in teaching» (2) It was a positive step, but there is mention of «media education». The Commission did not have executive power and it was limited to informing and advising institutions in relation with the media as didactic tools. Among its first actions it organized the first «International Conference on Audiovisual Media in the Education System» (Salinas, 1989).
At the same time, a series of books was systematically published on media education and technologies in education that contribute to the development of a certain awareness of the need to implement the critical study of media in schools. These publications helped enrich the debate on media education (3) and educational media. At this time, the terms used were «media education» and «educommunication», which were mainly focused on teacher training and the use of media (particularly video) as a tool to support the teaching-learning process.
In spite of the advent of mass media in society, especially television, only a few educators and experts, who were worried about the impact of television content on education, started pioneering work in developing media education. Thanks to this work, several interesting projects emerged in the early 90s, such as the Programa Prensa y Escuela of the Ministry of Education, La Aventura del Saber (4), an educational television program co-sponsored by the Ministry of Education and RTVE-, and some pioneering programs carried out by regional broadcasters (Telemadrid and TV3) (Pérez Tornero, 2010)
In 1990, the enactment of the Law on the General Organization of the Educational System (LOGSE) promoted the integration of the media as a teaching tool in the educational system. This law yielded some representative projects, such as the Programa Mercurio which used audiovisual media, Prensa – Escuela, using printed media, and the Programa Atenea, Alhambra which used new information and communication technologies (ICTs) (Gabelas, 2007). However, despite its good purpose, it patently lacked an integrated approach.
The late 90s were active times in the legal advancement of media literacy in Europe. During these years, the term «digital literacy» was adopted in Spain. The term appeared when the European Union designated digital competence as one of the main education skills. But there were other important influences. At this time, several UNESCO conferences called for the need for educational and political systems to promote critical knowledge among citizens, or to establish the right to media education as «a basic right of all citizens» and a «tool in the construction and sustaining of democracy». The UNESCO Vienna Conference, «Educating for the Media and the Digital Age» (1999), defined media education as a «basic right of all citizens» and a «tool in the construction and sustaining of democracy». Also involved at the legislative level, the Council of Europe drew up in March 2000 a strategic objective of the Union «to become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion» (5). In 2002, UNESCO held the Youth Media Education Seminar in Seville (6).
Media literacy in the educational curriculum
In this context, the Spanish curriculum has incorporated the concept of digital literacy, but has not incorporated the concept of media literacy. The compulsory school curriculum in the Spanish Educational System (primary and secondary) contains digital literacy as a part of the skills students must achieve, but no specific subjects have been defined. Generally media education or digital skills are a cross curricula subject linked to civic education and active citizenship.
Article 3 of the Royal Decree 1631/2006 establishes that Secondary Education should contribute to the development of abilities that would enable students «to develop basic skills in the use of information sources and to acquire new knowledge with critical judgment», and «to acquire basic preparation in the field of technologies, particularly in information and communication» (7).
The annex of The Royal Decree 1513/2006 establishes the incorporation of eight basic competences in the Primary Education curriculum to emphasize those skills that are considered to be indispensable. One of these competences is dealing with information and digital skills, meaning the regular use of the available technological resources to solve real problems in an efficient way, besides evaluating and selecting technological innovations as they appear, depending on their utility for undertaking specific tasks (8).
Media literacy today
Recent years have shown a gradual integration of two terms, digital competence and media education, in the more comprehensive concept of media literacy. This latter concept offers the advantage of including a critical view of the media system and ICTs and it includes more actors and more fields than merely education: it especially involves the inclusion of media and civil association.
Two conferences ‒ in 2009 and 2010 ‒ showed the changes in the use of the terms. The first of these, Citizens’ participation in public life through media, was organized in November 2009 by the European Association for Viewers Interests (EAVI), and the Spanish Senate with the support of the European Commission. For two days, the conference addressed different issues, such as the role of international institutions in support of media literacy, civilian participation through the media, and the relationship between media and power. The second conference, Media Literacy and Digital Cultures, held in Seville in May 2010 and organized by the Gabinete de Comunicación y Educación of the Autonomous University of Barcelona and the Latin American Association of Educational and Cultural Television (ATEI), was fully consistent with the AVMSD (9), and with the Communication from the Commission and European Parliament issued on Media Literacy in the knowledge Society. It was the biggest meeting to be held in Spain on media literacy in the last decade.
Finally, we must mention the seminar on Media Literacy and Audiovisual Authorities, organized by the Mediterranean Network of Regulatory Authorities (RIRM) (10) – June 2010; and presided by the Andalusian Audiovisual Council (CAA). The participants in the conference –all the Audiovisual Authorities from Mediterranean countries- highlighted the need to meet the requirements of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AMSD) and demanded a more active role for the audiovisual regulatory authorities.
In Spain there are three Postgraduates: Masters Degrees: «International Master in Communication and Education» (11), promoted by the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), and that has been running for 20 years; University Master in Communication and Education: from Information Society to Knowledge Society, at the National University of Distance Education (UNED) in Madrid and the recently created Interuniversity Master in Audiovisual Education & Communication (12), promoted by two universities, the International University of Andalusia (UNIA) and the University of Huelva (UHU).
With regard to teacher training, for more than 15 years, all teaching degrees have included a core subject called «New technologies applied to education». In addition, the Royal Decrees (BOE 29/12/2007) (13) that regulate the professional degrees to qualify as a Teacher of Childhood Education and Elementary Education; and the Masters Degree to qualify as a Teacher of Secondary Education, establish training objectives to give teachers competences in the use of ICT.
On the other hand, the Ministry of Education, and each Autonomous Community ‒ through the autonomous Education Department ‒ offer summer courses and continuing education with ICTs. In this regard, we should stress the cases of Catalonia and Andalusia, where the authorities have established obligatory courses for teachers that deal with the incorporation of digital textbook in schools. However, in the national scenario, Media Literacy as a concept has not been developed enough, as shown by the National Program «Escuela 2.0» that was approved by the Council of Ministers on September 4, 2009 and launched in the 2009-2010 academic year (14) .
The Government of the Autonomous Community of Catalonia launched, in November 2009, the Competences in Information and Communication Technologies Accreditation Program Acreditación de Competencias en Tecnología de la Información y la Comunicación (ACTIC) (15). People aged 16 years or over can demonstrate their knowledge and digital competences by solving a telematic test and obtaining a certificate issued by the local authority (Generalitat). Last, February Barcelona City Council launched a Digital Literacy Plan (Plan de Alfabetización Digital 2010-2010), which includes 24 proposals for promoting digital literacy.
Also in Catalonia, the Audiovisual Council of Catalonia (CAC) – the local regulatory authority – has launched a number of media literacy initiatives as has the Audiovisual Council of Navarra in Spain. Regarding the media industry, there have been a few initiatives, such as the «Audience Offices» (RTVE and Antena 3), and «The Press enters classrooms», which is a project promoted by different newspapers, «El País» and «El Mundo», among others.
Research and initiatives
In the field of research, there have been some works such as: Proyecto Pigmalión and the projects developed by the Official Institute of Radio and Television of Spain (Instituto Oficial de Radio y Televisión Española ‒ IORTVE). The studies carried out by the Office of Communication (Gabinete de Comunicación) at the UAB have been highly active in promoting the concept of “media literacy” and many applied research projects.
There are also the Andalusian Grupo Comunicar, which publishes one of the most recognized journals in the field of Media Education, the Educomunicadores Association (AIRE) in Madrid, as well as the initiatives of the European Observatory of Children’s Television (OCTA) and the International Association of Media Education Mentors. It is also important to mention the activities carried out by a teachers’ project, AulaMeida in Catalonia.
Many specialists have contributed to the development of awareness of media education, digital literacy and, media literacy. We could mention Jose Ignacio Aguaded, Enrique Martínez Salanova, Ma. Amor Pérez, Roberto Aparici, Agustín García Matilla, Antonio Bartolomé, Joan Ferrés, Mar de Fontcuberta, José Manuel Pérez Tornero, José Luis Rodríguez Illera, Julio Cabero and Lorenzo Vilches, among others.
Next steps / prospects
On May 1st, the Ley General de la Comunicación Audiovisual (General Law on Audiovisual Communication (LGCA, 2010) (16) will allow greater optimism regarding the future of media literacy in Spain. One of the most innovative aspects is that the LGCA –drawing on the Audiovisual Media Services Directive- explicitly includes the obligation of promoting media literacy (Article 6): «Public authorities and providers of audiovisual communication services should contribute to Citizens’ Media Literacy» (17). The Law establishes the National Council of Audiovisual (Consejo Estatal de Medios Audiovisuales -CEMA) which, in order to promote the Media Literacy competences of Spaniards, will prepare «an annual report of media literacy levels, using the indicators used by the European Commission and/or other indicators that the Council considers appropriate» (Art. 6f).
The fact that media literacy has been taken into account as part of the political and public agenda in Spain, allows us to trust that there will be a real change from digital competence to media competence as an essential step towards a fairer, more democratic society. Furthermore, in the forthcoming years we can expect the increasing participation of more and new – and traditional – actors in media literacy issues: ONGs, families, municipalities, media, authorities, teachers’ associations, journalists, lawyers, etc.
Nuria Fernandez-Garcia, PhD candidate, is a research scholar in Journalism and Communication Sciences at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), Spain. She is a member of the Gabinete de Comunicación y Educación, a research group specialized on Media Literacy and Educational Media, at the above mentioned university. Her principal research interests relate to the general and specific aspects of media literacy and political communication, and the relationship between gender, politics and media. Her latest articles include: Framing Hillary Clinton en la prensa española: ¿Candidata o mujer? (2010), Dones polítiques i mitjans de comunicació: dona, mare, filla, esposa… i política (2010), and La construcción mediática del líder político desde una perspectiva de género (2008).
(1) Ley 14/1970, de 4 de agosto, General de Educación y Financiamiento de la Reforma Educativa.
(2) BOE, 13 maggio 1980, http://www.boe.es/diario_boe/txt.php?id=BOE-A-1980-9961, last visit September 2010.
(3) In this sense, we should cite the pioneering work by Luis Miguel Martínez, Victoria Camps, José Manuel Pérez Tornero, Roberto Aparisi, Ignacio Aguaded, Mar Fontcuberta, Agustín García Matilla, Lorenzo Vilches, J. L. Rodríguez Illera, Antonio Bartolomé, Martínez Salanova, Amor Pérez and Joan Ferrés.
(4) La aventura del saber. Génesis y desarrollo de un espacio educativo, http://reddigital.cnice.mecd.es/4/firmas_nuevas/articulo12/tv_5.html, last visit September 2010.
(5) Lisbon European Council 23 and 24 March, 2000, Presidency Conclusions, http://www.europarl.europa.eu/summits/lis1_en.htm, last visit September 2010.
(6) Recommendations addressed to the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization UNESCO, Youth Media Education, Seville, 15-16 February 2002, http://portal.unesco.org/ci/en/ev.php-URL_ID=5680&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html, last visit September 2010.
(7) Real Decreto 1631/2006 establishing minimum standards for Secondary Education, Boletín Oficial del Estado, January 5th, 2007, n. 5, p. 677, http://www.boe.es/boe/dias/2007/01/05/pdfs/A00677-00773.pdf, last visit September 2010.
(8) Real Decreto 1513/2006 establishing minimum standards for Primary Education, Boletín Oficial del Estado, December 8th, 2006, n. 293, p. 43053, http://www.boe.es/boe/dias/2006/12/08/pdfs/A43053-43102.pdf, last visit September 2010.
(9) Audiovisual Media Services Directive (2007/65/CE), http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2007:332:0027:01:EN:HTML, last visit September 2010.
(10) La Red de Instituciones Reguladoras del Mediterráneo discuten en Málaga sobre la necesidad de elevar los niveles de alfabetización mediática, CAA, http://www.consejoaudiovisualdeandalucia.es/opencms/opencms/Actualidad/nuevaNoticia_0233, last visit September 2010.
(11) http://www.gabinetecomunicacionyeducacion.com/formacion/master-internacional-de-comunicacion-y-educacion, last visit September 2010.
(12) http://www.uhu.es/master-educomunicacion/, last visit September 2010.
(13) http://www.boe.es/boe/dias/2007/12/29/pdfs/A53735-53738.pdf, last visit September 2010.
(14) http://www.plane.gob.es/escuela-20/, last visit September 2010.
(15) http://www20.gencat.cat/portal/site/actic, last visit September 2010.
(16) Ley General de Comunicación Audiovisual, 7 March 2010, in BOE, num. 79, 1 April 2010, p. 30157. http://www.boe.es/boe/dias/2010/04/01/pdfs/BOE-A-2010-5292.pdf, last visit September 2010.
(17) http://jmtornero.wordpress.com/, last visit September 2010.