Media education in schools: the expert calls for a greater focus on cell phone use

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In the opinion of the educational scientist Klaus Zierer, schools must pay particular attention to the cell phone use of children and young people. According to scientific findings, heavy smartphone use by schoolchildren could lead to massive educational deficits, reports the chair holder at the University of Augsburg based on the latest results of the Hattie study.

Intensive smartphone use could result in a learning deficit of up to a year, he said after evaluating numerous international studies. In addition, cell phone use is linked to sleep disorders and cyber bullying, two other factors that inhibit learning success, explained Zierer.

In the education sector, digitization is being researched tirelessly, explained Zierer. There are a large number of studies that indicate that unthinking media consumption outside of school leads to a massive decline in learning among children.

“Media education is one of the central educational tasks of our time, to which a comprehensive contribution has to be made, especially in schools,” said Zierer.

The professor has worked with New Zealand education researcher John Hattie for years. Hattie attracted worldwide attention more than a decade ago with his study “Visible Learning”. Since then, this investigation has often been used for new pedagogical approaches and is updated by Hattie and Zierer by evaluating further investigations.

For the most recent Hattie study, more than 1,800 meta-analyzes – i.e. studies that summarize other studies – have been evaluated, explained Zierer. This means that around 100,000 individual studies, which draw on the learning performance of 300 million schoolchildren, have now been included in the current study.

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According to Zierer, the corona-related consequences in the education system are currently being intensively researched. In view of the empirical studies, it is clear that these have led to delays in terms of learning performance. The measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic had affected all learners, but “unfortunately especially children from disadvantaged parents who lost up to a school year,” he emphasized.

Gaps in the equipment of the schools have been closed by the digitization surge. “But digital distance learning cannot replace presence,” he emphasized. What has been known for more than 30 years has been confirmed: “Digital media do not revolutionize teaching per se: poor teaching is not made better by digital media. Only good teaching can benefit from it.”


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