Digital education of young people in schools and media skills: a study

Digital education of young people in schools and media skills: a study

In the digital age, many young people, if not all, spend a lot of time online. The use of media affects not only the way in which public and political issues are addressed, but also the behavior of young people in acquiring knowledge. Digital education of young people in schools is present, but still faces many obstacles in terms of confident handling of different information media. Internet it goes In an empirical study of the JUNIOR project, young people in Germany were asked how they use the Internet for learning. The influence of personal and social networks plays an important role, because the selection of videos and information is diverse and large. 1,166 men and 1,042 students aged 14 to 21 from all over Germany were interviewed. Most of the respondents were 17 years old at the time of the survey. 77% of the students were high school students. In addition, it examines whether young people are advised to use different sources of information in school hours in a healthy way. For this purpose, PISA data from 2018 was analyzed and consulted. Especially in times of the coronavirus crisis, these are important questions that institutes should ask themselves. Image source: © stokkete for

Digital education of young people in schools – YouTube

Audiovisual media are particularly popular when it comes to educational and informational purposes. YouTube plays a key role in digital education. The results clearly showed that social networks are the most important source for video recommendations. Almost 51.7% choose their videos based on recommendations from friends. Especially with the large amount and arbitrary selection of information sources on the Internet, it is once again shown how important certain media skills are for young people to access credible and fact-based content and to make a targeted selection of information. Young people often judge not by the credibility of content, but by the popularity of online videos and the ranking dictated by search engine algorithms. An indication that young people on the Internet are moving in a so-called filter bubble. (Sindermann et al., 2020).

Social media as educational media

Internet usage has become so common and self-evident that you can hardly tell whether someone is online or offline. Apps and social networks can be called up 24 hours a day via smartphone. Search engines and apps are playing an increasingly important role for young people when it comes to preparing for class and completing assignments. “Low-threshold supply, constant availability, repeatability, presentation of difficult content, and high variety of topics make Internet videos an attractive learning tool.” (Council for Cultural Education, 2019)

YouTube seems to be one of the most important sources of information when it comes to doing weekly homework or watching the news. Even Wikipedia is receding as an information platform. According to respondents, watching videos is clearly the most popular and most successful method of learning. 42.5 percent said they learn best through videos, and 47% see using YouTube as extremely useful and relevant to their school needs. This mainly affects young people’s learning and information acquisition behaviour. 70% of respondents do their homework this way and 66% watch YouTube videos to improve their knowledge for the next lesson. The youngest respondents aged 9-17 use the Internet at least once a week to work on their weekly schoolwork. Only a small percentage of young people between the ages of 12 and 19 watch explainer videos on YouTube several times a week. Internet use is very different for 12-19 year olds. More than half of girls and 68% of boys use YouTube videos at least once a week to learn about their schoolwork. For two-thirds of people aged 14 to 29, the Internet is even the most important information medium. It seems that the older you get, the more important the internet is in the learning process. (Die Medienanstalten, 2019)

The disadvantage is that the information available is usually not questioned, carefully classified or selected. It is no one’s job to check the accuracy of information on the Internet. False information and fake news can be quickly assumed to be true and easily influence the worldview of young people, as only 34% find it easy to verify the truth of information on the Internet. In particular, this clearly shows how important it has become to address the media skills of young people in the digital age.

Digital education of youth in schools

Digital media in the form of educational videos has been shown to have a particularly high priority for learning, however, according to the 2018 PISA student survey, the use of digital devices has hardly gained ground. However, digital devices are most often used in science subjects, followed by the teaching of foreign languages. 77% of teachers, especially German teachers, expect their students to research topics and content for homework and lessons online. However, students are rarely asked to create their own digital content such as a blog or wiki. Students mostly work from home with digital devices while developing lessons, while teachers consider it extremely important to design media skills and the sovereign use of information resources. 65% of teachers surveyed say they are giving young people exactly these relevant skills. The technical equipment of schools in Germany is not the only stumbling block, as the digital skills of the teachers themselves are often not enough to convey a sovereign handling of the information medium. More than half of the teachers report that they have mastered the necessary technical and pedagogical skills.

Successful digital learning

Above all, the study clearly shows that audiovisual online formats on the Internet play an increasingly important role in the learning process of young people. Digital education is on the rise. To ensure that young people and school children do not obtain information arbitrarily, it is important to understand and communicate how algorithms work. It is important to support the use and implementation of digital devices in schools so that certain media skills can be more targeted to young people. PISA data from 2018 shows this impressively. Early acquisition of these skills should be a top priority in schools, especially in the digital age. Institutions must also ensure that teachers themselves have the media skills to encourage students to recommend factually accurate and reputable videos. Digital learning must be a topic again and again during studies, internships and in the active teaching phase of pre-service and continuing education teachers. The corona crisis is only the first impulse that shows how important it is to support and support schools and students in this regard.

The full study can be found on the website Institute of German Economy

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About the author profiling institute

Ms. Weber is responsible for the Profiling Institute blog and other activities on social media such as Facebook and Instagram.

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