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The redefinition of the role of cultural mediator of the teacher in the digital world

The development of large digital content distribution platforms has completely changed the relationship to culture. It is now said that Quebec culture is drowned in an ocean of international content. How can we promote our Quebec content? How can we make them discoverable by the greatest number of people? What if teachers had a role to play with young people?

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The development of large digital content distribution platforms has completely changed the relationship to culture. It is now said that Quebec culture is drowned in an ocean of international content. How can we promote our Quebec content? How can we make them discoverable by the greatest number of people? What if teachers had a role to play with young people?

"Teachers have always had a role to play as cultural brokers. Today, with the challenges associated with the digital world, this role is more important than ever. Indeed, teachers can help young people thwart the algorithms that constantly offer them the same content to view and to look critically at different objects of culture. They become mediators of elements of culture." 

This is what Annie Turbide and Marjorie Paradis, both from the RÉCIT National Service, Human Development Domain (RÉCIT PD), reminded us. They presented a workshop on the subject in the context of the Digital Day in Education held on November 4, 2022.

The mediator of elements of culture fully assumes his or her role as an interpreter, critic and transmitter of culture. 

Indeed, in the Professional Competencies Framework - Teaching ProfessionThe Quebec Ministry of Education's Competency 1, published in 2020, is to act as a mediator of elements of culture. In this role, teachers must: 

  • Introduce students to a variety of cultural references from the world's heritage;
  • make the meaning of cultural objects explicit and relevant;
  • weave links between the objects of culture, the disciplinary contents and the culture of young people; 
  • Stimulate critical thinking and reflexivity about culture.

Although not all school subjects open the same doors and offer the same contexts for dealing with cultural elements with young people, teachers must have a sensitivity to culture and the presentation of cultural objects in the classroom. Moreover, digital technology now offers new access to culture. It allows immediate access to youth culture, to visit international places of worship, museums, etc. 

Integrating Quebec culture into the classroom in six steps

"Consumer habits have changed and access to culture has multiplied; for better or worse for Quebec culture! Indeed, there are huge issues of discoverability for Quebec content on major digital content distribution platforms. Some content will never be discovered. This represents a real risk for cultural diversity. Let's not forget that algorithms treat all content the same way, regardless of where it comes from or where people watch or listen to it," says Annie Turbide.

What can teachers do to contribute to the discoverability of Quebec culture by young people?

1- Keep your planning flexible

  • Keeping moments to share elements of culture.
  • Make room for students' curiosity and feed your own curiosity.

2- Modeling modes of access to culture

  • Show different ways to access culture (e.g., present platforms that young people are less familiar with).
  • Redo the thread of a group research (e.g., to show the impact of algorithms on the discoverability of content).
  • Be concerned about copyright and discuss it with students. (Interactive Guide to School Copyright)

3- Get informed about current events

  • Follow what is happening in the cultural industry to discuss it in class (e.g.: Spotify, partner of ADISQ).
  • Use current events to discuss cultural issues in the classroom.
  • Cultivate your general culture.

4. Boost the ways in which culture is integrated into its planning

  • Use culture elements as a primer for some activities.
  • Build some activities around cultural elements.
  • Have students name their cultural references to make connections.

5- Contextualize the cultural benchmarks presented

  • Give students keys to understanding to go beyond trends on social networks. 
  • Contextualize certain phenomena and make connections to the past (e.g., Why did the song Baby, It's Cold Outside has been censored). 

6- Develop critical thinking about the digital world

  • Helping youth understand how online distribution platforms work. 
  • Question the young people on the place of Quebec culture in their lives, what they consume and how (and get away from the Quebec folk culture).
  • Subscribing to media that do not necessarily promote our basic ideas in order to outsmart the algorithms and open our horizons.

"As a mediator of cultural elements, the teacher must be aware of his or her influence on young people. He or she must act as a good pedagogue, be open and inclusive. However, it must be remembered that not all elements of culture are equal. We must learn to discern between youth culture, general culture and the culture of humanity. The presenters concluded by saying, "This will provide hours of discussion.

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About the Author

Martine Rioux
Martine Rioux
After studying public communication, Martine worked as a journalist for various publications, before pursuing her career as an interactive communications consultant at La Capitale, a financial group, then at Québec Numérique, an organization she took over as general manager before making the jump. as political advisor in the office of the Minister for Digital Government Transformation. Today she is the online Editor-in-Chief and Special Projects Manager at l'École branchée. Her dream: that everyone has access to technology and can use it as a tool for learning and opening up to the world.

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