The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, N.T. Hong Kong
Introduction: the idea of school media
In the past decade, more and more schools in Hong Kong have set up their own school media (Chu, 2003). The notable increase in their numbers is closely related to advances in communication technologies. Desktop publishing improves editing work for school newspapers. Electronic media, which were once seen as expensive ventures, are becoming more affordable. Technologies have become more user-friendly, with easy-to-follow interfaces. Today, even primary school students are able to master the production of a video on their own (Gauntlett, 1996). School media, in print, electronic and digital forms, have now become commonplace in Hong Kong.
In this study, school media refers to schools’ attempts at modelling after mainstream media institutions by producing their own media works. The idea of school media has close associations with two other terms, namely “educational media” and “media education”. In the former case, schools have been looking for opportunities to make use of new media in education. In a review of the history on teaching with technology in American K-12 schools, for example, Cassidy (1998) found that generations of educators had been working to integrate new media into classrooms in the past century. On the other hand, the increasing prominence of media in the everyday lives of students has prompted calls to introduce media education into the formal curriculum, in the hope of equipping students with the skills and abilities to live in the media age.
What do school media, educational media and media education have in common? In all three instances, various “media” are brought into schools. As a result, educators are presented with the task of understanding and managing the media so that they can use it to achieve various objectives. The task often involves substantial planning and resources. In a discussion on student television in the United States, Silvia and Kaplan (1998) warned that students have to be prepared for budgetary, stafﬁng as well as administrative problems, as any media organization would. Unlike small-scale and infrequent productions undertaken by individual teachers, school media requires school-wide planning and participation.