Media Education as a Strategy for Online Civic Participation in Portuguese Schools
Keywords:Media literacy, education, curriculum, teaching strategies, teachers’ training, online civic engagement
Whilst various studies have examined participation on the Internet as a key element of a new emergent civic engagement, informally or formally through national and local governments’ online measures, less has been done to measure or suggest ways of overcoming social and technological constraints on online civic participation. Additionally, few studies have looked at the relationship between the actual implementation of such initiatives in classrooms and the messages which are conveyed indirectly as a result of teachers’ own conceptions of classroom strategies, which are perhaps better described as a “hidden curriculum”. This paper reports on these constructions through a set of detailed quantitative and qualitative case studies of the implementation of civic engagement through online activity in several regions of Portugal. The data, obtained through questionnaires, were used to produce novel composite scores reflecting the participatory and media literacy strategies of schools, as well as teachers and students’ media literacy and online civic actions. We present empirical results from a study population consisting of 12 public secondary school principals, 131 teachers, and 1,392 students in grades 11 and 12, suggesting that students’ online civic engagement and media literacy levels are affected by their teachers’ classroom practices and further training and by the implementation of a project-based approach to media education..