Are we educating our teachers to yesterday?

  • Awareness
  • 04/01/2018
  • Finnish Safer Internet Centre

Teacher education is a cornerstone in preparing teachers for their working lives. Here, the Finnish National Audiovisual Institute, part of the Finnish Safer Internet Centre (SIC), outlines its work around preparing student teachers to deliver future media education.

Schools, and educational systems in general, need to take into account the changes and developments in society, such as mediatisation and technological progression. One way to achieve this is to ensure that educators have the best possible knowledge, pedagogical understanding and competences to be successful in their highly-demanding profession: that is, in educating children, young people and, often also, adults for today's world.

Teacher education is a cornerstone in preparing teachers for their working lives. From the perspective of media education, it is, however, yet unknown what kind of knowledge and competences are being taught in teacher education courses in universities and, also, what kind of competences and knowledge student teachers themselves value and appreciate in relation to media education.
In our National Audiovisual Institute, we conducted a "Teacher Students and Media Education 2017" survey for student teachers together with the Teacher Student Union of Finland (SOOL). The survey comprised a questionnaire aimed at students of teacher education, and a review of the curricula of kindergarten and classroom teacher education as well as the content of teachers' pedagogical studies. We defined media education broadly as goal-directed interaction, in which the parties include the educators, those being educated and media culture. Media education is seen as promoting media literacy, which includes skills in media production and interpretation, activities within media environments, and information about the media.

The data

The link to the online questionnaire was sent via email to those 3,259 members of SOOL who had consented to the disclosure of their contact information for research purposes. A total of 448 students of teacher education answered the questionnaire, meaning that the questionnaire's response rate was 13.8 per cent.

Points to note include:

  • Respondents came from all Finnish universities offering degrees in teacher education.
  • Respondents included classroom teacher students, subject teacher students and kindergarten teacher students.
  • Nearly half of the respondents (45.1 per cent) reported having already completed more than two-thirds of their degree, while 28.4 per cent of the respondents had completed less than a third of the studies for their degree. The rest (26.4 per cent of the respondents) had completed more than one third, but less than two-thirds of their studies.

The results of the survey

According to the results of the survey, roughly half of the students (47.4 per cent) were of the opinion that their compulsory studies included media education. If the respondent's studies included media education, it was usually studied in a quantity equal to 4–6 credits (29.3 per cent) or 1–3 credits (24.9 per cent), or only as part of some other course (20 per cent of these respondents). Content wise, the most common themes in the studies were the educational uses of information and communication technology, digital learning environments and the use of services, as well as games in teaching and educational work. A majority of the respondents felt that their studies included too little media education (48.4 per cent) or much too little of it (23 per cent).

From the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) perspective, it is interesting to note that according to the survey the students themselves considered the most important themes to include:

  • the ability to search for and read information
  • a critical and investigative attitude towards the media, as well as
  • the safe use of media and a knowledge of the risks of media culture.

The results of the survey raise a question about the ways we can support teacher education in BIK-related issues such as promoting media literacy and safe use of digital media. Of course, one discussion would also be about supporting the competences of in-service teachers as well. In the Finnish Safer Internet Centre we do this, for example, by providing quality educational materials openly available, sharing information and raising awareness, and by lectures and trainings.

The full report (in Finnish) with an English summary can be downloaded from the website.

Find out more about the work of the Finnish Safer Internet Centre (SIC), including its awareness raising, helpline, hotline and youth participation services.

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