Keeping teens focused on what’s going on in class rather than their electronic device is a tall order, given that 73% of them have access to a smartphone – and most would rather be on Instagram than on Instagram. school. But what if taking, sharing, liking and commenting on photos was part of the program instead of a prohibited activity?
A group of Concordia researchers recently put this idea to the test and found that using mobile media and imaging is a great way to get young adults… 1. Engaged in their schooling, 2. Connected to their classmates, 3. Active in their communities, 4. Equipped to express their identity.
1. Engage young people
“Our initial goal was to create a curriculum that would encourage civic engagement among at-risk youth in order to tackle the significant and persistent problem of high school dropout rates in Quebec and North America,” said Juan Carlos Castro, artistic education teacher, responsible for the project. principal investigator.
“What we found is that youth engagement is a multifaceted and nuanced enterprise. In four recent publications, we examine how young people are empowered by a sense of empowerment over their mobility, by learning to create images, presenting aspects of themselves online and curriculum designed to support peer learning.
2. Connect online – and in person
Castro and his colleagues developed a mobile media art program, named MonCoin – which means My Corner in English – to involve students in their schooling and their local environment. To do this, they conducted a study with a group of young adults between the ages of 16 and 20 who had previously dropped out and were now working toward their high school diploma at an adult education center. near Montreal.
Participants were loaned an iPod Touch and participated in a semi-private Instagram group where they were able to communicate with each other, view their photos, share images and comment on what they saw.
The program encouraged participants to use mobile media at school and outside. The main activity was to take photographs answering the question “How could I improve this neighborhood?” “
“We believed that broadcasting the program via mobile devices to young people who did not want to be in school would keep them connected to their education. But we were surprised to find that the more the students were connected to each other online, the more they wanted to get together at school and on field trips with their peers, ”says Castro, who recently published the finding. in Studies in Arts Education.
3. From image to citizen action
The researchers also found that the young participants did not feel empowered while following the MonCoin program. Instead, they felt a sense of diminished agency.
The students eventually expressed their concerns and made it clear that learning the skills to better express themselves visually was more important to them than participating in social criticism.
“It really surprised us to see that the participants were initially concerned with the technical and aesthetic issues related to the creation of images, which then led many of them to look into the issues related to the civic engagement.
“As they took pictures of their neighborhood, participants began to notice the physical and psychological gaps in their surroundings, not the other way around,” says Castro, who, along with David Pariser and doctoral student Martin Lalonde, recently published the results in the International journal of education through art.
4. The importance of identity
In the team’s third post in the journal Visual Art Research, Lalonde identified that an essential part of online learning is the development of one’s identity through the creation, sharing and curation of images.
Because online dialogue and commentary was encouraged, students also developed a sense of community and learned to value the diverse opinions and points of view behind the images posted by their peers.
In the recent fourth publication in the journal Art Education, doctoral student Ehsan Akbari and recent Masters of Arts Education graduate Lina Moreno described the mobile media study programs used in the ongoing study to amplify the peer learning and educational engagement.
For Castro and his co-authors, who are among the only researchers in North America working in visual arts, mobile and social media, and youth engagement, these findings have important implications. The research team continues to work in various schools in Montreal.
“The field of arts education offers something important to the use of mobile media in schools due to the visualization of communication today.” he says.