To educate about information, being a digital native is not enough


This Monday, March 18, 2019 begins the thirtieth week of the press at the school, on the theme of “information without borders”. Accompanied by their teachers, students get ready to discover behind-the-scenes newsrooms, set up their own diaries, use microphones and cameras. A highlight in their training in information culture?

Enrolled in school curricula and, since 2015, in the decree establishing the common base of knowledge, skills and culture that must be mastered by young people at the end of college, media and information education is supposed to be staggered throughout the school year. The stakes are high, and they arose with violence at the time of the Charlie Hebdo attack .

However, if conspiracy theories and “fake news” are at the heart of the speeches, and are the subject of pedagogical reflections, teachers generally feel disarmed to accompany their students in the meanders of information, communication and social networks.

Complex terrain

In the texts, media and information literacy (NDE) is integrated into the teacher training curriculum. In the field, it is approached very unequally. Thus, it is not impossible that a teacher who enters his profession does not really know that the IME is part of his missions. Even when it does, the vast majority of new teachers do not feel equipped to train students.

Navigate a mass of information to build knowledge, ensure pluralism of possible points of view, make information a means to understand the other and the world, to doubt and criticize without questioning the very possibility of knowledge, that’s complicated.

How to use techniques without introducing confusion between information and digital? Which pedagogical gestures should be used to introduce students to complex thinking and thinking? These are two stumbling blocks for teachers who engage in a demanding job.

Thus, while there is no doubt that there is no doubt about the fact that IME is included in the programs, there is no guarantee that all students will find an opportunity in their school career to work on information and communication issues. Leaving school, media representations and practices of young people may therefore depend much more on the social and cultural environment of their family and friends than on the action of the school system. This is not a defeat but an invitation to work more actively on the training of future teachers.

Familiar tools

Led by a research team in the field of information and communication sciences and funded by the MAIF Foundation, a survey on the perception of digital risks by new teachers helps to deepen this question. Young teachers now see themselves as “digital natives”, they have always known digital tools, social networks, they grew up with game consoles and mobile phones, consulted Wikipedia without saying it and videos of YouTube to learn .

Almost all of the respondents (3,132 of whom 724 new holders were isolated) to the survey, conducted in 2017 in the academies of Bordeaux and Créteil, consider themselves as competent, performing or expert with digital, whatever their discipline reference. Their relationship to the digital is essentially utilitarian, related to the use of technical equipment and powerful software to make the class.

They also spend a significant amount of time online, over an hour and a half per day for 86% of them. Almost all of them search for information on a daily basis, and very few report being able to communicate (92.2%), read online (86.7%), use social media (83.7%), listen to music (80.9%), watch videos (72.1%). Digital technology is also, for the vast majority of them, a way to prepare their lessons (93.9%), to communicate by messaging with their colleagues (90.3%) and to illustrate their courses (85.5%) .

Overrated risks

Despite this sense of expertise and the diversity of these digital practices, the interviews that follow the survey show that the ratio of these teachers to information education is more complex than it seems. Everything happens as if the use of digital devices rather predisposed them to the partitioning between their personal uses and the class. Only 50% of them say that they are going digital – with a difference between men and women, the latter being more sensitive to digital risks for their students.

On this issue of digital risks, the protection of personal data and privacy is mentioned as a major concern (89.2%), followed by the right to image cited by 67.3%. Media education is cited by only half of the teachers. Their personal experience or the experience they have with their own children invites them to overestimate the risks and in particular to lose control of the situations. Consequently, they approach information education with the utmost caution.

However, they are well aware that information risks (manipulation, evaluation of information and readability of controversies, locking in filter bubbles) are important for their students, whom they see as more vulnerable than themselves. And yet, they consider themselves insufficiently (or not at all) trained in digital uses in educational situations, their main demand for training rather than information.

A posture to rethink

Several obstacles block the path of IMS. The first is the identification of the skills involved. Trainers often hear groups of trainee teachers asking for digital toolkits in IME trainings, whereas this course can not be limited to technical devices.

A second obstacle is that of the perception of the teaching standard. This question of normativity is central to the school. Digital technology is shaking up the boundaries between staff and the professional, the emotional and the cognitive. It greatly complicates the representation of the world carried by the students. The norm of a closed and protected school space loses its meaning.

For teachers, these conflicts of normativity require a capacity for adaptation, the construction of criteria of authority that are no longer self-evident, a capacity for listening and attention that is not compatible with the heaviness of the programs, an acceptance of uncertainty and complexity contradictory with the image of the teacher, incarnation of knowledge and solid values, in the school of the Republic.

The documentalist teachers, because these questions are at the heart of their training and their mission, are likely to give impetus, with the partners of the school. Thus, the requirement to consider IME as a priority is essential, but its implementation requires a thorough reflection on pedagogical priorities, teacher training paths, and the place given to learning the criticism. .

Beyond the texts of intention, the school must create devices in addition to the traditional disciplines, to instill the educational, social and political ambition to include the comprehensive and critical analysis of the information as for the production, than broadcast and reception.

The challenge is to learn to deconstruct and decrypt information while avoiding the only emotional and sporadic reaction to events. No magic formula is at our disposal, no actor more legitimate or more effective than the others, no sufficient resource, the responsibility is collective and cultural.

Author Bio: Anne Lehmans is a Lecturer HDR at the University of Bordeaux