Several months ago JFF - Institute for Media Education and Media Research in Munich and Evens Foundation in Antwerp asked us to provide a description of several media education projects that ActiveWatch developed during the last years and could fit into a Publication of good practice projects in the field of media literacy, in plan to be published. We publish the text on our website as well, as the document brings together and gives a nice overall image of the different media education activities we do here at ActiveWatch. 

An international board chose the MediaSIS Teachers Training Course to be published. 


(1) MediaSIS – Media Literacy for Teachers

The MediaSIS course was developed in Romania by a local media watchdog – ActiveWatch - to help teachers improve their media literacy level and, as a result, include media education strategies in the classroom.
The course – a first in Romania - is intended for teachers in any field of the undergraduate system, but the competences attained through this course can be of better use in fields like social science, Romanian language and literature, foreign languages and natural science. Teachers’ media education in formal education does not happen in Romania.

The idea of the course is to help teachers develop knowledge and abilities that will allow them approach media issues with their students, along the various subjects taught. With this course, ActiveWatch continues its campaign to adapt school activities to the students’ everyday life dominated by the media in all their forms, and to give them the possibility to develop critical thinking towards media messages with the support of their teachers.

MediaSIS training course
Photo: Introduction session into the course content

The MediaSIS course is a 50 hours course with face-to-face and online sessions on the Moodle platform (27 hours, respectively 23 hours). It focuses on the critical approach of information media, image construction and video production as well as Internet use – credibility online, copyright issues and private life concepts, open educational resources.

Fifteen teachers in ten Romanian counties - teaching various subjects in secondary education (high-school as well) – were selected and attended the pilot course in the spring of 2012. The course content was updated according to the teachers’ input and now awaits formal recognition from the National Council for Teachers Training. The content of the course is flexible and can be adapted to further changes that may happen in the media environment. ActiveWatch plans to use the course in the teachers training as often as possible in the future (a series of two courses per year). Such a course will become more attractive and useful to teachers once media education will be recognized officialy in policy papers as integral part of the formal curriculum. In their turn, teachers will need the institutional support of their schools in order to integrate media education activities in the classroom as well as a flexible curriculum to allow the adaptation of the content to a media-prone environment.

Nicoleta Fotiade studied Journalism and graduated with an MA in Communication at the University of Westminster in London, United Kingdom. She authored several tens of media research studies, coauthored two media education textbooks and several other supporting materials for teachers. She is founding member of ActiveWatch – Media Monitoring Agency and Coordinator of the Media Education Program since 2004.

Bogdan Manolea is interested in issues related to information technology law and digital civil rights. He writes about laws and Internet at since 2001. He authored more than a hundred presentations and articles on topics related to Law and Information Technology. He is Executive Director of the Association for Technology and Internet - APTI and also an Editor of biweekly EDRi-gram online newsletter on digital civil rights.


SHARP Workshop

(2) SHARP – Visual Language and Representation of Reality

During the autumn-spring of 2010-2011 ActiveWatch prepared and developed a four days video production workshop with secondary school kids (both children and preadolescents) living in a socially disadvantaged area of Romania (in Slatina, Olt county, southern region). The goal of ActiveWatch action was to give them the possibility to learn the basics of media production with the help of ICT tools and then represent themselves within their social and cultural environment in visual language.

SHARP Workshop

The main goal of the ActiveWatch local action in Romania was to help children and young people living in a socially disadvantaged area to: (1) develop media literacy and production skills using their’ own interests and cultural preferences, (2) to understand their own territory and identity and (3) be able to express and share their own social and cultural experiences with the help of video making and the online medium.

In order to achieve that goal ActiveWatch underwent several STEPS (standard for all local actions in the partner countries of the SHARP project). They developed a Grid Analysis to identify the area of intervention, local partners and target groups as well as localformative needs. ActiveWatch signed partnerships with a local foundation and school for the smooth implementation of the action. The Training Needs Analysis – based on an interview grid - allowed the team to understand better the students’ profile (age, gender etc.), aspects related to their media and digital literacy, their critical use of media and especially Internet; their use of the video camera as well as their openness in sharing aspects related to their own everyday life and social environment within short films. An additional one-day meeting with the visual experts involved in the project was organized in order for both students and experts to get acquainted and for the former to understand the participants’ level of film literacy and video production.

The main training activity took place in Slatina in between 1st and 4th of April 2011 and consisted of training sessions, video making and editing, and critical analysis of still and moving images. Prior to the workshop, the students went twice to the cinema and had to fill in a short questionnaire based on what they had seen (visual language related questions). Most questions had been elaborated in order to understand students’ cultural preferences and basic critical understanding of media messages. Their answers were taken into consideration during workshop discussions. 16 students took part in the training workshop.

Main activities over a period of:
Grid Analysis (2 week)
Training Needs Analysis (2 weeks)
Getting to know (3 days)
Actual Training and Film Production Workshop (4 days)
Film editing – 9 short films (3 weeks, 1 person)
Feedback and evaluation (1 day)

The four days training workshop took place in the school premises and filming locations chosen with the students. It was parted into a two-days theoretic module and two-days actual filming. The aim of the theoretic module was to introduce the participants to basic notions of media literacy and film production. Within the practical module, guided by their trainers, the participants were able to rehearse and actually implement the knowledge and abilities they learnt during the first two days. The participants had a very low level of media and film literacy. Parents’ approval to use the image of children in the filmed materials was taken.

SHARP Workshop

The training team: 1 media education expert, 2 visual experts, 1 local facilitator.

Theoretic Module:
1. Introduction in Video Production. Students were taught the different types of audiovisual production and their constructing elements (message transmitted, aim and interests of the video maker, audience etc.).
2. Interviewing techniques. Students were introduced to the various ways of asking questions and tips to have in mind when facing an interlocutor. They exercised, through role-playing, closed and open questions to find the most efficient way to obtain information from their interlocutors.
3. Basic notions of video storyboard (framing, angles etc.) The main message of this session related to how different types of filming reveal certain attitudes towards the filmed subjects => the way one films is determined by the message one wants to convey. Still images displaying different filming angles were used during this session. Most of the images used were taken from fairly well known movies, familiar to the participants.

At the end of the first day of workshop, students were given a list of potential topics to take into consideration for their short films. All topics were related to the participants’ everyday life, their own individuality as built in the context of their school, their town and their homes, among their friends and family and so on. The children were explained the finality of their short films, the fact that they were supposed to be published and shared online.

4. Basic notions of video editing (video available) For the purposes of this session the participants were asked to choose a musical track in order to shoot their own video clip. Participants assisted the editing process while being explained basic technical notions.

SHARP WorkshopSHARP Workshop

Critical Approach. All through the first four sessions elements of critical analysis of media messages were inserted in the presentations and discussions with the students. Students learnt how different media texts are produced, what are the basic principles on which a news story is constructed, constructing elements of advertising messages etc. The main aim was to invite the children to develop their questioning abilities in relation to the media messages and images they came into contact with.

5. Preparatory session for the practical module. Under the trainers’ guidance students organized themselves in teams up to 3 people, decided on the topic and plan of the filming process and set the filming schedule of the following two days.

Practical Module:
8 groups of participants shared the two days filming schedule guided by the trainers. Each group had two hours to film the subjects and places they decided to represent in their short films and to take interviews. Students applied the knowledge and skills developed in the first two days of workshop. All through the filming process the visual experts coached the student(s).
Technical support: Filming schedule; 2 cameras; 1 microphone, 1 photo camera
Topics chosen: Our School / My Best friend / My Favourite Sport / Places in Slatina / Dancing Lessons
For practical reasons, one of the visual experts took in the film editing process. It was done during one month after the workshop according to students’ directions regarding the message they wished to convey. But the editting can be easily done together with the students, provided that technical equipment is available.

SHARP WorkshopSHARP WorkshopSHARP Workshop

The workshop was based on the learning by doing approach. The students were actively involved in all sessions. Even from the first day of film education, students had the opportunity to use the video cameras. The construction of most of the exercises and discussions took into consideration the participants’ cultural preferences (music and film interests, leisure time etc.).
Methods used in the training: presentation, discussion in small and large groups, working groups, application, interview, use of multimedia resources, and role-playing.

You may watch the videos resulted in the Slatina workshop HERE and more pictures HERE.

The Slatina workshop was part of the European project "SHARP - A Platform for Sharing and Re/Presenting”, which is a partnership with skills in ICT, social research, education and training. SHARP was promoted by the University of Pavia (Communication and Psychology Departments) and CEM (Media Education Centre) together with institutions from six European countries (Bulgaria, Cyprus, France, Lithuania, Portugal, Romania).

The European project SHARP ended in December 2012 but the online platform with the pedagogical kit based on all partners experiences, materials and methods used during the project is ongoing for people to use it and to upload their own video productions. Most of the materials of the kit are translated in both English and French languages as well as in the local languages of the partners.


(3) The MedeaNET workshops: Use of Documentary Film in the Classroom

ActiveWatch prepared its first workshop on the Use of Documentary Film in the Classroom” for teachers; in particular, for pre-universitary educators teaching civic education and social and humanistic studies as well as history and Competence into mass media optional subject for highschool. The one day workshop was held in Bucharest at the ActiveWatch headquarters in the last week of February 2013.

Our aim was to help teachers discover the advantages of using the documentary film in the classroom. During the six hours workshop the participants learnt about ways to decode documentary films and strategies to use it in the work with their students: the preparation of the film projection, watching a documentary film, exercises to decode the visual language and narrative construction, the use of the film as a tool to stimulate debate on social, cultural and historic issues.

The Romanian documentary film that the trainers proposed for this particular session – “Our School” tackled the topic of discrimination and segregation of Roma kids in Romanian schools. It was selected in more than 50 film festivals around the world and teachers participating in the Reel Education program in the USA use it.

ActiveWatch invited two well-known documentary film specialists to be trainers in the one-day workshop.

Alexandru Solomon (One World Romania) has been making film documentaries since 1993, while pursuing his career as director of photography for fiction films. His films are mixing genres, using his visual and experimental skills and have been screened in TV stations and awarded in festivals around the world. He is the director of the One World Romania documentary film festival and teaches at the Photo-video department of UNARTE (National University for Arts).

Adina Brădeanu is Media projects Consultant for DocWest – Center for Research and Film Production at the University of Westminster, UK and consultant for the Romanian Book Collection of the Bodleiene Library in Oxford (UK). Adina is working with documentary film since 1994, first as a researcher at the Romanian Peasant Museum and then as a Phd student and associate professor at the Department for Contemporary Media Practice of the Westminster University in London.

At the end of the workshop, the participants received a diploma, the DVD with the documentary film and a handbook containing the guidelines to use the film in the classroom. The brochure is a 41 pages-material and contains a guideline on how to organize integrated sessions with students supported by documentary films in several disciplines of the formal education (Time & Preparation), the reasons for choosing “Our School” documentary, the synopsis of the film, a brief history of the Roma minority, the cinematographic analysis of the documentary film, preparation for teachers and several examples of interactive activities with the students, additional reading as well as information on the Media&Learning Community.

Please see pictures taken during the workshop.

The institutional partners in the workshop were One World Romania festival on human rights documentary films and DocWest (University of Westminster, London, UK).

The workshop in Romania is part of the MedeaNEt workshop series organized in seven European countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Estonia, Germany, Greece and Romania. The aim of the workshops is primarily to show teachers and educators the potential of using various media in educational contexts. MEDEAnet is a 3-year network project funded under the Lifelong Learning Programme, running from January 2012 to December 2014.


(4) The ONAIR course "Let's Discover What's Behind News"

(Useful Resource Material for Teachers and Students)

Learning Purpose
To develop students’ critical thinking towards news and media messages in general and their rationale behavior as news consumers and media users.

Overall Description
• Time: 18 hours
• Curriculum: Social Studies, Language and Communication
• Target: Students 15-18 years old
• Equipment: 25 PCs with Internet access; video projector
• 1 teacher, no budget.

Students should be able to:
• Use the computer;
• Surf on the Internet;
• Use an image editing software.

Package Structure
• Students have to create a news bulletin in order to develop their critical thinking towards news.
• To accomplish this task, firstly students have to analyze and deconstruct news.

Main Activities:
• Debate on students’ media consumption (pre-test);
• Selection of news and reasons behind it (Double Entry Journal);
• Deconstruction of news (stereotypes etc.);
• Critical analysis of sensationalist news;
• Internet resources – analysis & evaluation;
• Documentation and creation of a video news bulletin or a news blog;
• Production of a news bulletin or a news blog;
• Students’ evaluation of final product.

Additional Objectives
•Involve the students in their learning activity and determine them to learn by doing.
The package focuses on the creation of a news bulletin, but in order to do this, students have to learn to select, analyze/decode and evaluate news as consumers.
•Help students gain a deeper insight of news production and become more responsible news consumers and media users.
Gives students the opportunity to develop their creativity.

The Teaching – Learning Process is based on the experiential learning model developed by David A. Kolb. It consists of four elements:
1. The concrete experience. Students are directly involved as news consumers in a concrete experience.
2. Observation and reflection. Students are asked to observe and reflect on the learning experience.
3. Development of abstract concepts. Students have to integrate their observations in the development of key concepts, in theories.
4. Testing in new situations. Students have to use the new acquisitions to make decisions and solve tasks.

Documentation Tools (available in the online link)
• Pre-test/Post-test
• Rubric
• Double Entry Journal
• Individual Evaluation Form
• News Production Guidelines
• Terminological Guide for Students and Teachers
• Cluster Diagram
• 2 TV news stories                                                                       
• Teacher’s Logbook
• Product Evaluation Form
• Student Satisfaction Form.

Skills Acquired
• Searching the Internet for news
• Analyzing and decoding news
• Recognizing stereotypes
• Identifying news production techniques
• Cooperating in order to solve a task
• Assuming and acting out the role of a news journalist

The course was tested within 3 schools, with 83 students coordinated by 3 teachers and the kit was updated according to the testing. You may read a PowerPoint presentation of the Testing Report HERE.

Subsequent to the termination of the project, Romanian teachers all over the country could use the ONAIR course. ActiveWatch holds the statistics and contact details of the teachers that proposed the course to their high school students during the school year 2010-2011. The ONAIR course was implemented in 20 schools all over Romania.

The online version of the ONAIR kit is downloadable in both ROMANIAN and ENGLISH languages.

The kit was developed within the ONAIR European project for media education, an initiative of the Sapienza University in Rome, and it benefits of the support of the Romanian Ministry of Education, Research, Youth and Sports.


Contact details: Nicoleta Fotiade, [email protected]

ActiveWatch / CC BY 3.0