The Practice of media education in the Hungarian schools


Our research aims to observe the changes of the subjects motion picture culture and media studies, due to the digital turn, in the context of it’s embeddedness in the schools. In spring and autumn of 2015 a various kind of fieldworks were conducted by us1: examination of the school atmosphere and school documents, making interviews with the teachers of motion picture culture and media studies, furthermore we visited three courses. The observation was completed with three focus group interviews recorded on film- according to the conversations with the parents, a relation could take shape between the families and media culture and also between the school development in the media literacy.

  1. Hungary: digital literacy – principles and goals

 The Hungarian documents draw a parallel with James Potter’s results inter alia. According to Potter media literacy is a set of perspectives that we actively use while interacting with mass communication systems, and we interpret the incoming messages. (Potter, 2014).

The current Hungarian National Core Curriculum says: „The goal is to help students become responsible participants in a mediated global public: they should understand new and traditional media languages. Teaching students to media awareness, through the formulation of interpretation, critical thinking and its action-oriented nature, it prepares them to the participatory culture of democracy and to the meaningful and value-based conscious shaping and organising the everyday life that is influenced by the media. The students learn about the functions of the media and its effect mechanisms, the mutual relations between media and society, ways of differentiation between the real and virtual, the public and private connection, so as well the legal and ethical importance of these differences and the mentioned media characteristics. (Nat-2012 /I.1.1. Development areas – educational objectives; Education on media consciousness chapter/).  The other key concept of our study is the digital competence that is listed among the key competences since 2007. The education policy document construe it as so: “Digital competence involves the Information Society Technologies (hereinafter IKT) and the confident, critical and ethical use of the transmitted content, made available by the technologies, in social relationships, work, communication and leisure.” (Nat-2012 /II. Part: Competence development, Literacy mediation, knowledge building. II. 1. The key competences/)

 Media literacy and digital literacy in the cross-curriculum

We see in the NAT (National Core Curriculum) in the year 2012 that the education on media consciousness and the digital competence appears as a common value that pervades the pedagogic processes and firmly connected to other developmental fields, educational goals and as well to more key competences.

In the Hungarian public education media education, as well as motion picture culture and media studies of until the ninth grade appear only as a cross-curricular field. This is why it is important to recognise that the education focusing on media literacy and digital competence development is eligible to encourage various work forms and several methodology associated curricular and extra-curricular, interactive and creative activities.

The media education in the curricular basis 

The primary task of the course motion image culture and the media studies is the development of media literacy. The subject in the high school receives a separate course frame in two different ways. In tabular form it can be displayed as follows (Curriculum Framework-2012).

  1. The place of the media education in the institutions

During the research we conducted fieldwork in three institutions. After the overview of the educational documents of the school we made interviews with the directors and also we made notes based on our local experiences – basically we investigated the situation of media education in the context of the school atmosphere. We try to understand the development of media literacy in a wider sense. This is why, in addition to the on-going work in the curricular framework, we discus other ways to increase the level of media literacy: here we concern the school TV, school radio, film club and other extracurricular and school activities. We had a previous connection with the institutions and the teachers too, so we could rely on the mutual trust evolved over the years during our visits. In the following every chapter we interpret our observations collected from the three schools in a similar structure.

High school in a big city in the Great Hungarian Plain

The school, founded in the middle of the 50s, moved into its new building in the middle of the 90s, right after when the original building was returned to the church. Regarding the number of employees, size, facilities and professional programs we can talk about one of the leading high schools in the county’s network of schools. According to the documents the strength of the high school are the following: many talented students, outstanding material conditions and dedicated, well-trained educators. Two skilful teachers provide the education of the motion image culture and media studies. One of the teachers is a Hungarian language and literature- Russian language and literature- motion image culture and media studies specialized teacher, qualified pedagogue, the other one is a geography- motion image culture and media studies specialized teacher, qualified pedagogue. In all classes there are two occasions a week, in the 12th grade there is two hour-long graduation preparatory of motion image culture and media studies held.

Small-town high school in the north east of the country

The school is one of the youngest secondary educational institutions in the northeast part of Hungary. The educational and welfare work began in 1993, so the new school appeared beside a religious high school with a great tradition. The small-town has a major historical and cultural legacy, even so according to interviewees the small-town life and the backwardness of the agglomeration is a huge drawback. However the interviewees point out that the students come from isolated settlements, with conservative in habits meant in a good way. Among the school’s educational and pedagogic goals and tasks, also education to media consciousness took its place. The motion image culture and media studies course has no classroom of its own, it is held in the art classroom. Media education basically appears in two subjects, in the visual culture and the motion image culture and media studies. The high school is well equipped with appropriate means of media education. There is a small studio and equipment suitable for the shots and post-production that is only for the study group’s work. Besides these, the computer room can also be drawn in the media courses practical work. In the classrooms of the institution device systems providing presentation and screening possibilities got built-in: computer, beamer, and suitable projection surface.

In the high school in the 10th grade the motion picture culture and media studies course turns up once a week. In addition to the regular courses there is a media study group too, lead by an employee of the local TV. The study group is based on mainly the practice of television genres: multi-camera recording, preparation of news content. It is possible for the more experienced students to produce raw material and final news content for the TV. Furthermore the TV gives an opportunity to the films that turned out well, even if they are not TV films, to be in its program. The work in connection with the motion picture culture and media studies is considered as field to develop: employment of competent professional teacher, extension of the study group work, introduction of creative and experimental filming, maintaining the already existent relation with TV, using the potential of media education in the framework of other subjects.

Small-town high school in north of the Great Plains

The town’s population counts 17 thousand people; all the agricultural, the developed industrial and the cultural-touristic marks are reflected in its profile, structure and architecture. The closeness of the highway and the railway line creates both an economically and geographically privileged situation. The small town is the region’s economic, commercial, cultural and tourist centre. The still growing population of the city is recovering its market and makes tourism boom too. The building of the school was completed in 1914-15. A major upgrade took place in the early 70s. The institution was expanded with a new gymnasium in 1993. Art and visual culture, music, music literature, ethnography, history and geography, dance and drama, film and media studies courses are included in its educational systems. The motion picture culture and media studies subject is taught by art and visual culture teacher, who also works as a graphic designer: designing album covers for Hungarian and foreign bands.

  1. Media education from close up: the conclusion of the interviews and experiences from the class visits

We made interviews with each media teachers from the three examined schools based on a uniform set of question. According to the result of the interviews we try to characterise the three teachers on the bases of their intellect and activity.

We visited the interviewee’s class three times. The evaluation of the class visit was carried out according to a uniform criteria, while we tried to relate the analysis of the classes with each particular teacher’s intellectual and professional image, as well with the educational process shaped by the subject and the given class.

The Hungarian language and literature as a starting point

The first colleague graduated in 1990, earned her diploma in the university of the previously introduced big city of the Great Plain in the Hungarian- Russian department, then she finished her post gradual studies at the same place in motion picture and media culture, and she completed a media communicator training course qualified by a professional organisation. She came into contact with the subject motion picture culture and media studies by the encouragement of the school’s director, right after the previous teacher had left and courses remained teacher-less in the school: she had to take over on a running program and a prepared curriculum. Even before the request she had been interested in the subject, so the director regarded this while entrusting her to teach the course. According to our experiences many teacher in the country have come a similar path: from the liberal arts sector people, who have been interested in film and media would expand their activity in similar manner. In the school there is a long tradition of ​​teaching in this field: in the 60s the classic form of film aesthetics was taught by a colleague, a Hungarian teacher, then since 1993 they received permission from the ministry to teach the subject and have it in the graduation. Teaching the subject motion picture culture and media studies is particularly advanced and differentiated in the school: it is a compulsory subject for all students as an independent course once a week in the 12th grade. Apart from this there is a graduation preparatory in the 11th- 12th grade twice a week. Two teachers cover these classes. The students receive marks inside an independent subject framework – the interviewee doesn’t consider this good because it’s unfortunate to give bad marks to the students in the 12th grade. All students in the schools study the subject in the independent subject framework, which is 100% of all students of the school. In the graduation preparatory faculty the headcount was above 30, now it counts 10-12 students from two grades- the number of graduates is between 7-10 per grade (2-3 students graduate without taking graduation preparatory). The graduation preparatory takes place twice a week, altogether the subjects give a total of 10 classes, which is in number approximately half of the classes of one teacher. Both of the teachers teach each other’s courses too (Hungarian language and literature, geography). From the methodological aspects she highlights the following: more successful demonstration, the theme also means a professional update; considers the use of IKT important. The experienced and successful teacher’s response to the question „How do you see the future of the subject or the field? ” is quite pessimistic regarding the future of the course: there is no higher level graduation, the departments are under suppression in colleges, the textbooks increasingly move away from the high school students.

First we visited an introductory lesson at the beginning of a school year. It was the teacher’s own class, where she also teaches Hungarian language and literature. It’s a special situation to be the head class teacher of the Arany János Talent Program; accordingly the intimate but professional relationship was perceptible between teacher and pupils.

It is about the motion picture culture and media studies’ compulsory, previously described form, which means one class a week, in total 31 classes. A couple of students from the class would join the faculty, and there will be two people who graduate in this subject.

The mainly discussion based course is actually about the students’ prior knowledge on the subject, and their expectations. What the students know from the higher grade students: movies can be watched, there will be film analysis, the history of the motion picture will be discussed, selfie making will be a theme (as in last year’s graduation); it’s connected to the last year’s graduation project task, the mass media broadcasting news will be discussed. Topics are furthermore the art films, popular culture, cinematic expression toolkit, including possible parallels with the Hungarian language and literature, also advertising is mentioned.

Then the teacher was talking about the evaluation. She is saying that before she took evaluation seriously, there were “2”-s (bad marks) given. There will be two smaller test marks and apart from this two practical tasks. She compares it with the music class – there the strictness is unjustified and that is why the course doesn’t achieve its goal. The themes of the first semester, according to the teacher: the motion picture (theory, history, genre, periods of film history). The task: two by two they have to do presentations; good marks on diligence can be received (e.g. film genres can be chosen). These presentations build up from 8-15 slides with images and motion picture. There is no textbook, they write into their copybook; a 40-minute test will be written from the class material at the beginning of December. There will be presentation that can be also done in pairs along the lines of the graduation exercises. 8-15 slides based on specific topics; the theme is personal experiences. The presentations have to be filled with their own images, and handed in in January.  A half-page work diary belongs to each presentation, in which the basic idea and the authors’ experiences are drawn up. This adds up to two marks, plus a freely chosen task. In the second semester they’ll have media studies. One of the marks again can be received only with a presentation: in pairs they have to examine a media event. The criteria: the reception of the event, interpretation (recommended theme: the refugee problem); the method of evaluation: the quality of the presentation, professionalism, correct use of the terms. Apart from this they need to write an essay: the title is given, an opinion has to be formulated and then presented in class on one page. The theme is still the most general: culture, Internet, book, man. The summary of the class visit: It is about 10 children, who take part actively in the class from the 34 students. There is an absolute presence of discipline; they listen to everyone. She is an experienced teacher, apparently she has a good relationship with the children.

Career starter teacher with professional qualification

Our second interviewee received her teaching (MA) diploma in February 2015 in a college 150 kilometres away from her workplace. She came to the school this year, where she teaches her courses (motion picture culture and media studies, visual and environmental culture). She feels that the two degrees are close to each other: both are from the field of the arts, the two areas overlap and interact with each other.

She teaches the subject art-visual culture from the 7th grade, till the 13th grade once a week. Motion picture culture subject appears only in 9th and 13th grade also once a week, this concerns app. 180 students.

She has no information on the course’s prestige among the parents, residents and institution of the city, because she doesn’t live in the city and haven’t met the parents yet.

Rarely it happens for example that the students watch a movie in Hungarian class. The teacher considers the technical equipment of the school good, if it’s needed the computers can be used in the IT room, also the school has a small studio with editing facilities, cameras, lighting equipment, stands, microphones, but these still haven’t been used during classes. She thinks that the subject has a future, only the students’ interest has to be aroused towards the subject. She identified the future of the subject in its relevance to nowadays. She thinks it would be important to begin to teach motion picture courses earlier, in lower grades, because students already arrive to high school with explicit media consumption habits and views.

The visited class, as usual, began with a report and then straight away the teacher announced that there would be a test. This announcement caused a little murmuring and sparked confusion among the students. The paper contained four questions, on one page. The questions were not discussed together before handing out the papers, there was no reference to any previously taught material. During the procession, when the teacher saw that difficulties arose about some of the questions, she helped with leading questions and explanation. However the content of the test is instructive. The first point was concept definition (mass media, publicity, media pessimism). The second is an open question: “What’s the function of the media?” In the third point the students had to put the communication devices in a chronological order (photo, radio, newspaper, television, telephone, books, computer). The fourth question was about some well-known people in the history of communication – such as Bell, Marconi and the Lumière brothers – when did they develop or invent what?

There was pretty big bustle during the test writing, time to time the students got the answer, they considered right, in a prohibited way (mostly using their smart phones). After finishing the test and collecting the papers, they discussed the correct answers within the framework of frontal work. The teacher didn’t ask for any feedback from the students if their answers were correct or not. It took 30 minutes to complete the test.

Teacher coming from visual culture

Our third interviewee graduated in 2005 from a college that is only 20 kilometres from his school in art and visual communication, then she completed his teaching qualification with an art and environmental culture (MA) diploma. About ten years of teaching this is his second job, previously she worked as an art teacher in an art school. She teaches the course for three years. Her experience was limited but previous photo and video classes helped. The two and a half year work experience at a software developer company also helped her; this is wheres he came across animation making.

She got connected to motion picture culture and media studies by taking over the courses of a previous Hungarian teacher. This was a decision of the school according to the principal provisions. He received the syllabi from previous years as help. We can say that this case – the motion picture culture and media studies is taught by the art teacher with the provisions of the principal, without qualifications – is highly specific in the Hungarian schools.

The children’s work is measured with grades. A grade builds up from a theoretical part – photo themes and / or film history, and / or plan assures, camera movements, etc. – they write an essay after approx. the 8th-9th class.

A screening of a film adaptation of a literary work built into the curriculum that is previously negotiated with the history teacher and / or the Hungarian teacher colleague. The students watch several films aligned to other subjects, and these are analysed according to a specified criteria by the students in a home written essay. The two will result in a final grade. Due to the large class sizes there are no practical tasks (e.g. short film, animation, etc.). Neither the teacher, nor the students have a textbook. To the class curriculum he collects the material from the Internet. He uploaded the collected and edited materials on his own webpage and shared it with the students, but lately he also sends materials through Facebook. They only work from online materials.

The students studying in the high school 9th grade have one class a week for a half year- i.e. approx. 35 people receive it for one year and the three graduating classes, which is approx. 70-75 people, who also have it for one year – this is about 100 to 110 people – the number of the school is around 700 people – 14.3% of the kids encounter the subject.

Regarding the reception of the subject she says: the students don’t even feel this subjects is necessary, because they take every media stuff, they encounter, evident; what they either see on the Internet or in the television or in the movies, because they do not realize what kind of industry is behind it that produces these them.

They can get everything for free through the Internet, they don’t think of the author’s intellectual property. About the students’ media consumption habits she said:  for this generation the television stops at talent shows, sports broadcasts and reality shows, on which you can build during the course; they don’t watch news at all.

About the technical gear: computer, projector, proper sound system, but no video software is available – due to the lack of financial support. In the near future there will be laptop upgrades. In her opinion, 80% of the necessary equipment is given for motion picture education.

Our third visit took place in the class 9. a), which is a 0 grade foreign language preparatory class, counting 26 students (15 girls 11 boys). The students learn motion picture culture and media studies once a week. The class was in the school’s art classroom, where the space was mainly filled with arts’ equipment, for example there wasn’t an interactive board. However suitable darkening for projection is resolved. They have computer and beamer. During projections the students need to turn to their left, towards the wall, which is ergonomically inadequate.

In the previous lessons they learned about the concept of media: the possibilities of film and media, differentials, their genres, etc. The visited class began with repetition of materials, and then throughout the class several reference were made on earlier themes. The place of the observed class in the educational process was new materials transmission: the emergence of film, the beginnings of film. The excipient, visual tools, text- and exercise book was not on the table in front on of anyone. There is no PPT illustration. The teacher shows excerpts or whole (short) films from her own collection. The class learning material is sent to the students by e-mail.

The overall atmosphere of the course is good. Students listen to each other, don’t cut each other off. The teacher’s explanation many times include her own or real-life examples and situations that enhance the understanding and reception. A girl and a boy answer the teacher’s questions. Almost everyone pays attention – only a girl is studying English from her copy and two boys repeatedly get engaged with others. Students share their opinions and ask questions. The teacher manages to keep their attention. She keeps contact with the students well – they listen and pay attention to her.

The curriculum: the emergence of film and the beginnings of film. Topics: oeuvre of the Lumière brothers and the arrival of the train (fiction or documentary?). The first genres: science fiction, Journey to the Moon. The first tricks: stop trick. The problem of the cinematic time and the emergence of the sound film turn up too. Image formats, the appearance and changes of the new technologies: computer-manipulated image – CGI, the IMAX, the virtual space are displayed.

From the methods of processing the curriculum she mainly uses showing cinematic examples- in some cases “funny examples” of film excerpts. While screening she gave explanations and mentioned humorous examples in addition to the explanations. In her presentation the current example of film and her own film experiences were mentioned. Ahead she tells what they will discuss next time. English-language film was also screened– regarding the character of the foreign language preparatory class.

The class had a well-built structure, the teacher tried to keep the tempo tight, but still enjoyable. The arrangement of the course was clearly visible: repetition – introduction – tuning – presentation of the new material – explanation – question – response summary – closing. The didactic features: part summaries were integrated; a thread of continuous feedback was part of the class. At the end of the course she evaluated the students’ activity verbally, but didn’t give any marks.

As a summary, we can say that the course was professionally grounded, but it could be more colourful, e.g. using presentations, giving tasks to the students, increasing their activity.

  1. Focus group interviews with the parents

At all three locations we made a focus group interviews with the parents. The conversations were about one- one and a half hour long with six to eight participants. In some cases, we were in the classes of the interviewees’ children, at other places the children of the interviewed parents attended an another course. The interviews were recorded on film; below we interpret what was said.

The role of digital competences in social inclusion

At our first location we talked to six parents who had kids in the classes we visited. They were all mothers and all of them from small rural settlements. It is the Talent Program’s feature that all of them have large families; most of their children are adults, mostly educated in universities. From the eight participants, two of them are teacher, and the rest are employees or do physical work.

Tools and their use at home and in school: the first set of questions to the parents are what kind of tools do the children have at home, what do they use them for, how expensive are they and how often are they replaced? According to one respondent the children without exception have smartphones. They keep in touch with the adult children through Skype. Desktop computer is barely used anywhere. The devices are bought with the family’s assistance or from children’s own earnings. There are many Televisions in the house, almost in every room. Another respondent says that the three children have their own computers and smartphones.

The computer helps the children in their studies; they don’t use it to so-called bad purposes. The next thought of almost every respondent uniformly is that the kids spend a lot of time in front of computers, and it would be better if this could be less. “All day they are on the phone, in front of the Internet.” The answer to the “Can you say how much time the children spend, on a 24-hour average day, with phone calls, surfing on the Internet or TV?”: “Half of the day. Depends on whether it is a school break or not. ” Essentially it can be said that the phone and the Internet entirely covers their active period.

“Do you have any information about what content do the kids search on the Internet?” – we asked further. According to the replies no, they can’t and don’t want to pay attention to this (of course now we are talking about school children). What they can name: Facebook, game, contacting friends, for boys it’s sports news. In connection to regulations one of the parents mentions her eight-year-old younger child, who is on Facebook with his own password, and he pretends to be fourteen years old. In his case the parents are checking with whom he is emailing and what kind of things he is writing. Anyway the children keep on changing their passwords. Common experience is that young people leave Facebook, so their parents are not able to check on them, and they switch to Twitter and Instagram. Replying to the question if they contact with their children through Facebook and Instagram, they said yes, with the absent ones. “This Facebook connection is good – says one of them – even with the teacher I often keep in touch here, also I’m emailing with the head class teacher.” Communications with the school: parents partly email, partly call on the phone, partly they are notified by their children on school matters.

When we asked about Internet safety or privacy issues, possible harassments, first they vehemently denied, and then cases turned up. “Once they made another Facebook profile for my son, and they posted and wrote everything on behalf of him.” Another parent: “Somebody made a Facebook profile with my son’s photograph, but he left his phone number there. He called him and it turned out it was one of his classmate’s friends. We told him that he either deletes the profile in 2 minutes or we report it to the police. “

The next question was concerned whether they watch TV together, what they discuss about it, and if they surf the Internet together? “Yes. We sit down and we talk about it. Like to whom not to respond, when a friend request comes from an unknown person. “” Yes, they take our advices. If someone, who they don’t know requests friendship on Facebook, they don’t accept it.” According to the parents we can talk about very enlightened, self-conscious children of theirs. They have grown into the age of electronic devices; they understand the devices better than their parents.

Summing up the conclusions of conversation: we met parents seeking opportunities for social mobility, who see the means of social inclusion in the electronic devices. At least in the first half of the conversation their perception of electronic devices seemed quite unproblematic – they haven’t evaluated critically their own and their children’s media consumption habits, they didn’t see any problems or dangers. But later, regarding each question a critical tone appeared.

Device Usage: digital competence in everyday life

Mainly men came to our second conversation round, many are teachers, television employees or IT specialists. (One of them is working as a system administrator, other one of them works in the town gallery, there is an employee of the town hall and furthermore there is an enthusiastic photographer and filmmaker.)

We asked about the children’s use of devices: “What kind of electronic device does the child use on a daily basis?” One answer is: “For my younger boy the phone and the computer is already the same. Anyway he is not only a consumer, but a media producer.” The children buy their devices with the help of the family and from their own money. One of them is using a borrowed drone as well. They can access each device – they use their smart phones for online communication, television is only a background in these families.

There used to be many movies watching together, but now it’s not typical any more. Their information gathering habits are different –simultaneous acquisition of information (they are building from mosaics). Another speaker, “My child spends his time almost only with this.” Others think that it’s striking that the kids have no need for personal conversation. Someone revives a dormitory incident: “The party had to be shut down at half past eight, because there weren’t enough children. So I got interested what the kids are doing. They were sitting in their rooms dabbing their phones. “

Thereafter we had a discussion about the media education and the school’s tasks. One opinion: “It is a great opportunity to get to know the world. There is nothing to argue about it. I see a risk is in receiving information rapidly so then the degree of immersion decreases. They access information fast, but only superficially. They receive everything ready-made and they are not forced to go deep, have an inner vision, and imagine things. Since they collect most of the information form the virtual space, they have no sense of reality.”

One of our most important questions was „What do they expect from the school, what is it supposed to teach about film, TV, Internet and the electronic world?” A couple of answers: „As a parent I’d see the school’s support in teaching the children how to filter. What is an important piece of information and what is not?” „To teach the children what is worthless and what is valuable.” ”I’d expect only one thing. Everybody should learn how to make proper pictures with a digital camera.” „That the motion picture- and media studies make the kids aware of other parts of the world that are out of their sight.” „ That the value of the motion picture doesn’t come form the technical realisation, but when the tools become artistic means of expression.” “To teach them how to use these technical things intelligently. Since the man doesn’t work without a machine. So they can distinguish between the important and the unimportant.” The subject- articulated by one of the parents- should balance between the artistic and analysing perspective of the media education and the practice of the technical use of devices. An answer: „ If I have to choose, the most important is the creativity, the unfolding of the creativity. “And another one: „ As a parent I ask the pedagogues to protect my children.”

Summary: There were manly men, and mostly professional computer and other device users, critical, emphasising the creative use of devices.

Strong family norms in a small-town

In relation to the use of devices and tools the eight participants are saying that of course the children have all their devices- although the older ones feel a bit uncomfortable about the constant presence on the Internet and the use of phone. The young ones wouldn’t be even able to live without their favourite devices. „He falls asleep, then wakes up with the phone… and we have quite many problems coming from this.” „I’m also not happy about it. It began in elementary school, this Facebook communication. The Internet influences a great deal that the children have no personal contact with each other.” „He is always on the messenger, he goes to sleep and wakes up with it.” „My younger, 11 years old son is exactly an addict… if he is at home, and I have to work form 8 am till 6 pm, then he sits in front of the computer at 8 am and when I come home he is still there.”

Their everyday life experience is that there is a common Facebook group for the classes and the parents, but according to them they use it rarely. „I especially feel bad about the Facebook groups, because I had deleted myself from Facebook, right because of „suspected” addiction I diagnosed myself with.” „I have never been a Facebook user. I’m not willing to watch the screen any more, after work hours. I don’t care. If someone has a problem then call me, they know my number.”

Answering to the question „What is the role of the family in the media education?”: „To control them, to steer them to the right track, and tell them this isn’t how it is my sweet son, this isn’t right. The time he spends in front of the computer has to be limited. He just obeys and does it.”- The analysing person adds to this that it’s slightly paradoxical to the above written. „Showing them a good example, but the group of their age has a bigger influence on them. But still if someone grows up in a good family model, and I can show a middle path in many things, even if the contemporary group takes them away. Then I think we keep the basic values: love, empathy, and understanding. I always taught them in a way so their self-esteem don’t get hurt, he should keep the rules of acceptance inside of his own value system. We don’t accept anything at all costs, but the otherness has to be respected.” „We talk about everything that happened in school. When he started to use the Internet in elementary school, I told him that anyone could take a name, anyone’s data could be used, any photos could be used, so what people say on the Internet it doesn’t necessarily cover the truth. We haven’t had any negative experiences.” „Everything depends on the family. The grandmother shouldn’t buy a tablet to her grandchildren, they should rather cook together, do an activity, and so the motoric things can develop. Now everything became faster, there is no time to understand the new things. In language teaching the new devices work quite well, they are much more effective than the traditional ones. For the children of nowadays the personality is not enough, they need technology. The Internet moral and its norms can’t be taught in school, they could be brought only from home.”

To summarize we can say that from the three groups the parents are the most critical in this one regarding their children’s Internet use and media consumption habits, so as well they emphasise the role of the family the most in the media education.

  1. Outlook: what the school documents talk about

In this chapter we undertook to observe the local curriculum of motion picture culture and media studies, the curriculum relevant to the study groups and the written documentation of the course plans with the method of document analysis, and from the results we outlined a couple conclusions connected to digital competence and local school education practice to media consciousness2.

The sample, the research questions and hypotheses

During the sample selection we took the following aspects into consideration:

  • We tried to extend the research in space; therefore our data is independent from the public educational institutions where we did previous fieldwork. Due to this process we tried to avoid possible distortion of the model, at the same time the wider range of educational documents, selected for analysis, increase the reliability of results.
  • In our analysis there are three different cities’ – two in Hajdú- Bihar County, and one in Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén County – high schools’ documents included. The pattern of our study was coming form the local curriculums provided for us, the study groups’ syllabi and lesson plans. The specialty of these written documents is that the included development goals and guidelines made with regard of the needs of the particular school and study groups.

The main research questions about media consciousness and digital competence are the following:

  1. Does the current content of the cross-curriculum regarding the media consciousness and digital competences in the NAT (National Core Curriculum) prevail in the given curriculum, syllabus or lesson plan?
  2. Do the themes, identified in the course plan, appear in the recommendations of the Curriculum Framework?
  3. To what extent the motion picture culture and media studies classes are theory or practice oriented?
  4. In what rate and theoretical depth do the chosen and analysed materials deal with the topic of traditional (printed and electronic) and new media tools?
  5. In motion picture culture and media studies classes do they deal with the legal and ethical (see netiquette) aspects of the mediated, global public?
  6. Are the following topics: real (offline) and virtual (online) communication, the social relation and contact – forms and types of them – appear as independent themes in a media class?
  7. Do they talk about how the media functions and it’s effect mechanisms in class?
  8. What are the typical planned forms of class work, and do the requirements of the current NAT about activity oriented, creative media pedagogy prevail?
  9. Which skills of the digital competence and media consciousness do the proposed class activities improve?

We discovered the recommendations of the current NAT on the cross-curriculum connected to the media consciousness and digital competence in all school documents that gave the pattern of our observation. In the majority of the local curriculums it is also emphasised, with which areas these skills can be closely associated – e.g. learning the role of participation and citizenship, developing critical and creative skills, native language communication skills, social competencies, as well as aesthetic and artistic consciousness and expressiveness. Among the analysed syllabuses, in connection with the development of information and communication skills, we can read the following: students should know how to use library and electronic databases, the students should get to know the modern channels of communication well enough to be able to acquire more knowledge, with particular regard to the monitoring, coding, interpretative, justification and argumentation capabilities. According to our experiences, the points that connect the educational and developmental goals to other educational areas are present in an elaborated form in the local curriculums regarding the motion picture culture and media studies. From these, the documents of visual culture, Hungarian language and literature, information technology, as well history, civics and social studies were referred to most often.

The next question is that the motion picture culture and media studies classes to what extent are theory or practice oriented? What activities are characteristic to the media class? Based on the analysed course plans, we can state that by processing the planned curriculum together typically happens through the asking- explaining method, within the framework of frontal class work. The media educators relatively often give research or collection work for student groups of 2-4, so as well film excerpt analysis on a pre-specified criteria

In the course plan of the media teachers a practice also can be seen: how the teacher colleague is using the possibilities of a virtual classroom.

The subject’s own website serves as an online classroom – supporting and in addition to the courses, developing the students‘ cooperative skills with the aim to master online learning. The online community interface is also used by the students to fill out questionnaires on what was said in the classes – within the framework of the so-called “Playful knowledge test” – or assessing the students’ knowledge acquired with the help of an interactive polling program, called Socrative.

It can fit in the extensive adaptation of the opportunities offered by the World Wide Web that the teacher uploads her educational presentations, the recommended literatures and useful links related to the topic to a surface shared with the students.

Furthermore we found a colleague, who, according to her course plan, gives a role to the so-called Learningapps – interactive task editor- surface in her media class. The essence of the method is that the interrelated contents, knowledge, concepts are made understandable for the students through different game types, see e.g. crossword, word completion, Be a Millionaire!, etc.

In the following, we try to answer the question: which skills of digital literacy and media consciousness are developed by the activities in the classroom? Based on the analysed course plans we can conclude that media teachers also in the context of the motion picture culture and media studies classes are striving to improve the key competencies – e.g. critical thinking, reading comprehension and writing, the social skills of cooperation.

In conclusion, we can say that school documents – the contents of the educational plans, pedagogy programs, syllabuses and course plans – regardless of the geographical location of the educational institution, follow the themes connected to development of skills and competencies described in the NAT and Framework Curriculum. The observed written development plans also support that, with a well tough out and planned curricular and extracurricular media education, we are able to cover almost all cross-curricular areas, thus the subject’s educational goals seem achievable.


In our study we endeavoured to show the educational work connected to media comprehension, media literacy, digital literacy development from the angle of international trends. It can be said that Hungarian aspirations pretty much follow the international trends – this relates to the kit of concept used in the education and the media education pedagogic target system. As pointed out above, in the same time we are highlighting the Hungarian peculiarities: in addition to the cross-curricular forms in Hungary, within the frame of motion picture culture and media studies, it is possible that the subject media education appears as a separate subject; however, integrated forms of media education are also possible.

We are interpreting the concept of media education in a wide range: we observed, in addition to the professional work of the courses, the solutions of the course concentration, the curricular and extracurricular activities. The examined samples are not representative – while summarising our results, we had to concern that of course we didn’t speak (or only marginally) about schools, where there is no media education. Here we must point out the following feature of the Hungarian practice: the relevant documents allow and even interpret media education as compulsory education area, which is not taken serious enough in many of the schools.

In our study we present the results of deep drillings conducted in three schools. This is multi-criteria assaying that attempt to analyse the embeddedness of media education into schools in a diverse manner. All the three locations immersed in the regional context, as well we have tried to link the situation of media education with the image of the school. We have seen that the socio-cultural background of the schools greatly determines the tasks of media education. Also we tried to outline how a teacher’s personality, oeuvre and professional career outlines the situation of media education in a school – from the above written it follows that a committed and skilful teacher, to a large extent, can determine the level of the school‘s media education.

The teachers shape their syllabus and class room work according to their own ideas and opportunities (their skills, qualifications, age): an originally Hungarian language and literature teacher envisions the subject differently, again another model is represented by the teachers coming from the art – environmental culture subject – the last ones are more susceptible to creative activity.

A certain types of media educational practices are being outlined by authors‘ experiences in the study. According to the schools the media education stands in the service of a multi-purpose pedagogic goal: the determinative objective is the development of the critical media literacy in accordance with the National Core Curriculum and the Curriculum Framework, which focuses on the necessary competencies for civic participation in the society. The technical equipment of the schools, according to our experience, is appropriate; the equipment was evolved and modernized according to a variety of plans – in some schools the social alignment is accentuated, elsewhere the creative work is in the focus.

What came out from the conversation with parent is that they are concerned about how the children use their devices and their relationship with the electronic media. Some of the parents see possibilities of socialization-integration in the use of devices, others emphasize the importance of the creative motion picture writing, because they think that it as the best way to get to know the tools. In fact, with different emphases, but in all of them appears the tone of concern for their children – parents expect their children to be prepared to the challenges of the digital world partly from family environment, and partly from the school.

Media education creates a special occasion for parents, teachers and students to cooperate, since their contact is happening with the help of the devices that are already in the focus of the school developmental work trying to understand what kind of nature and social role they have. The position of media education and it’s embeddedness can be summarized as follows: there is the political will regarding the area, the need for media education is noticeable from the parents‘ and students‘ side. Dedicated teachers work in the schools, often forming personal work groups in each institution. Undoubtedly, the need is present to improve the professional and methodological aspect of teacher- and advanced training, as well as the exchange of experiences between the teachers.

Ilustracja: Man With Flag Of Hungary by Vlado / ID-100204663

Summary: We are interpreting the concept of Hungarian media education in a wide range: we observed the professional work of the courses, the solutions of the course concentration, the curricular and extracurricular activities. The observation was completed with three focus group interviews recorded on film – according to the conversations with the parents.
Keywords: Media education, critical thinking, practice in the schools

Publication bibliography

Curriculum Framework- No. 2012: 51/2012. (XII. 21.) EMMI (Ministry of Human Resources) regulation on the legal status and edition of the Curriculum Frameworks.

Nat-2012: 110/2012. (VI. 4) Government Regulation on the introduction and application of the National Core Curriculum.

James Potter (2014): Media literacy. University of California, Santa Barbara – Seventh edition. Thousand Oaks, California, SAGE Publications, Inc.


  1. Apart form the authors, the following participated in the work of the research group: Lanszki Anita, Monory Mész András, Varjasi Tibor, Záhonyi-Ábel Márk.
  2. We are grateful for the materials to the following colleagues, past and presenta students: Fegyverneki Gergő, Lengyelné Nagy Petra Virág, Magi Csaba, Megyeriné Kovács Anikó, Papp Zsolt.

László Borbás, dr Csilla Herzog, dr hab. Imre Szíjártó, dr Tibor Tóth

László Borbás is a college assistant lecturer at the Institute of Media Informatics, at the Department of Film and Media Studies at Eszterházy Károly College. He teaches media, television production (news, magazine, documentary, television live production directing) film production (lighting, filmmaking, cinematography,editing). He worksas a mentor teacher at the college TV (Líceum TV) and he is a student (doctorand) of Eötvös Lóránd University's PhD School of Education.His field of Academic Interest: film and television, media pedagogy, new media, new technology in education. His research topic is New Media and Mobile Tools in education.

Csilla Herzog (PhD, Assistant Professor). She has 24 years of educational and also has 20 years of experience as a program editor at television and radio channels, including the college television station and former radios station. Her area of research the media-literacy of teenagers and children aged 8-12 years. She is primarily interested in the media habits of children. Currently she is researching the children's tablet using habits during school classes.

Imre Szíjártó is college associate professor at the Eszterházy Károly College (Eger), head of Department of Film and Media Studies. Teaches film theory, film analysis, motion picture analysis, Eastern-European cinema course, teaching methodology seminar. Her field of Academic Interest: National cinemas in Central-Eastern Europe, methodology of teaching film and media studies. Her academic titles: PhD (2002, pedagogy), habilitation (2010).

Tibor Tóth: i’ve been working for the Department of Film and Media Studies of the Eszterházy Károly College for 18 years, primarily teaching subjects relating to film making and television genres. Prior to this I worked in general education for 26 years and I still have a close relationship with elementary and secondary schools. I often create documentary films and participate in joint projects with other institutions.

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About László Borbás, dr Csilla Herzog, dr hab. Imre Szíjártó, dr Tibor Tóth

László Borbás is a college assistant lecturer at the Institute of Media Informatics, at the Department of Film and Media Studies at Eszterházy Károly College. He teaches media, television production (news, magazine, documentary, television live production directing) film production (lighting, filmmaking, cinematography,editing). He works as a mentor teacher at the college TV (Líceum TV) and he is a student (doctorand) of Eötvös Lóránd University's PhD School of Education. His field of Academic Interest: film and television, media pedagogy, new media, new technology in education. His research topic is New Media and Mobile Tools in education. Csilla Herzog (PhD, Assistant Professor). She has 24 years of educational and also has 20 years of experience as a program editor at television and radio channels, including the college television station and former radios station. Her area of research the media-literacy of teenagers and children aged 8-12 years. She is primarily interested in the media habits of children. Currently she is researching the children's tablet using habits during school classes. Imre Szíjártó is college associate professor at the Eszterházy Károly College (Eger), head of Department of Film and Media Studies. Teaches film theory, film analysis, motion picture analysis, Eastern-European cinema course, teaching methodology seminar. Her field of Academic Interest: National cinemas in Central-Eastern Europe, methodology of teaching film and media studies. Her academic titles: PhD (2002, pedagogy), habilitation (2010). Tibor Tóth: i’ve been working for the Department of Film and Media Studies of the Eszterházy Károly College for 18 years, primarily teaching subjects relating to film making and television genres. Prior to this I worked in general education for 26 years and I still have a close relationship with elementary and secondary schools. I often create documentary films and participate in joint projects with other institutions.

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