Keywords: Social Media, Learning and Teaching, Mature Learners, Digital Age, CPD

medialit15-250MediaLit is a week-long conference held at St John’s College (Durham), designed for those training for Christian leadership and those already engaged in Christian ministry. The course explores Christian ministry and the media, encouraging media literacy amongst those who (will) hold public positions within and related to the Christian church. This intensive conference, deliberately kept small, has attracted 18-30 delegates per year since 2010, with delegates including ministerial students, ordinands, ministers, media professionals and diocesan and district communications officers. The course addresses media as a whole, including mass media, broadcast media, social media and community media.

Delegates are reassured that they do no need to know how to ‘do technology’ to partake in the course, but are encouraged to engage with the learning opportunities provided via social media, through both discussion and practice. For the last five years, a hashtag based Twitterfall (wall of tweets) has run in the sessions, which has encouraged a large number of delegates to develop their own (on-going) Twitter profiles, as well as conversation as to the nature, purpose, benefits and drawbacks of both the Twitterfall’s presence in the classroom, Twitter’s reach beyond the classroom, and what this means more widely about digital culture, and our contemporary age.

The overall structure of the programme is focused upon learning and teaching outcomes. Students are expected to gain an understanding of media theory, theology, and practice within a digital age through interaction, participation and engagement, especially facilitated peer-to-peer conversation. The majority of students are mature students with life experience from a range of sectors to share. Using an andragogical approach, the learner’s background is viewed as an essential component to both what they learn, and what they can contribute to the cohort’s learning.  Feedback from 2014 included:

If you want to be challenged in your thinking; be at the cutting edge of thought in media literacy, experience discussion and practical sessions on creativity and broadcasting you need to be at MediaLit15!

Social media also offers scope beyond the immediate classroom, including live blogging sessions as reflective practice and/or to reach a wider audience, opportunities to collate outputs via Storify or Epilogger, lists of wider reading and films, and the opportunity to continue conversations for group alumni via a Facebook group. This session will reflect upon the course, and how it has developed in order to provide the strongest learning outcomes for each cohort, as media continues to change.

For the European Conference on Social Media (5,000 word paper due by 5 Feb, conference in July).

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