New Media education for critical consciousness

On: September 12, 2010
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About Cristina Reyna
Cristina Reyna New Media Master Student 2010/2011 Cristina was born in Colombia, she moved to Belgium to study in the Catholic University of Louvain, since then she has been involved in women rights issues. She works in the field of development, migration and peace.


I am from the generation who wasn’t born with the chip installed; in fact when I studied Journalism I had to bring with me a heavy type writer and the Pentax to classes. The video camera wasn’t as affordable at it is now, so we had to share with the other students, only few had a personal one; the local news was screened in the park on Sundays evening.

When I graduated in Bogota, the first year students of the university were entering the internet era. So yes I am not a digital native generation, I will say I am trying to be a Digital immigrant. I am also the generation who was impregnated by Theologies of liberation, Paolo Freire´s pedagogical methodology on Popular Education and Boal’s theater of the oppressed.

My main work experience has been in capacity building for adults by using participatory approaches and popular education methods. I´m pleased to see how the Internet has helped to improve the exchange of information, networking and has facilitated the access to information, which was one of our mottos. As an example, the Instraw CoP’ communities where I am particular involved, is an interesting space for trainers for exchanging tools, experiences, ideas and actualization on different topics related to gender.

My main issue here is that even if my generation of trainers is using video, beamer and power points, somehow I have the impression that few trainers have really switched to the culture of new media and to understand the digital native’s generation.

I was then wondering, how would Paolo Freire have used New Media technologies for teaching Popular Education? I was searching on internet if somebody was using New Media with the Theater of the Oppressed which is one of the main techniques developed in Popular Education, and I found few links. I did find websites talking about the topic and research, but none of them were exploring the use of New Media for different techniques of popular Education.

This brings me to a question: Is New Media an expression of Popular Education?

They both have similar characteristics:

They are Informal, collective and an ongoing process, hierarchies are not important everyone is equal. It is about participation; it is supposed to be accessible for everybody and gives a voice to those who the voiceless. In Popular Education teachers and learners are not two distinct groups; rather, everyone teaches and everyone learns. New Media implies an interactive process of informal learning in which the participant is at the same time the teacher and the learner. In the case of games for example, players learn from their own mistakes; exploration, experimentation and collaboration is part of the learning experience.

They are participative, Popular Education is a collective effort in which a high degree of participation is expected from everybody, a facilitator is needed to make sure that new ideas arise, progress, and don’t get repetitive. A facilitator is not a teacher: this person facilitates learning and helps in the process of learning. The Interactive nature of New Media would serve as medium of facilitator in the learning process.

Popular Education aims to empower people who feel marginalized socially and politically to take control of their own learning and to achieve social change; in fact isn’t New Media only about that?

School Sweet School – How Children Can Change Their Own Reality is an example of empowerment process

Active participation by SMS, Twitter, and other social media are starting to be used for capacity building, understanding the New Internet Culture and rethinking Popular Education from this perspective could be a door for a New Media education for critical consciousness adapted to the new context of current social movements. is a platform of activists networking, with the 10 tactics projects they are facilitating basic advocacy tools., is a not yet finished project on interactive pedagogical learning on conflict resolution. Breakthrough is an international human rights organization using the power of popular culture, media, and community mobilization to transform public attitudes and advance equality, justice, and dignity.


(, NEW MEDIA, NEW SITES OF LEARNING  Professor David Buckingham. Centre for the Study of Children, Youth and Media, Institute of Education, University of London, UK Bob Hale Youth College for Social Justice : Participants’ Handbook. Peace and Environment Resource Centre10 tactics for turning information into action

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