Meet Ilana Eleá - The New Scientific Coordinator at the Clearinghouse
As from February 1st, Ilana Eleá has joined the Clearinghouse as the new scientific coordinator. Eleá has a PhD in Education from Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio), Brazil, and is now living in Stockholm, Sweden.
Welcome as the new scientific coordinator at the Clearinghouse! Please tell us a bit about your professional experiences before joining us:
After finishing my Masters in Education on Youth, Media and Democracy, I travelled to Italy for an extension course in Media Education with Pier Cesare Rivoltella at Università Cattolica di Milano. There I had the opportunity to learn more about media education and media literacy, from both a theoretical and a practical perspective, which enriched my experience and boosted my motivation to promote them back in Brazil. Back in Rio I started on my PhD, as well as starting to teach media literacy at CCE/PUC-Rio for post-graduate students.
Beginning in 1998 I took part in two research groups focusing on children, youth and media (JER and GRUPEM). Many schools and organizations were interested in the topic, so I did consulting work for them. As a UNESCO Chair in Reading (PUC-Rio), I was responsible for coordinating the qualitative analysis of 6,000 projects promoting reading in Brazil, trying to determine, e.g., whether digital media were being used to inspire reading among children.
I am a board member and advisor at Associazione Camaleonte in Milan, and a reviewer at the Comunicar journal in Spain. In Sweden I founded the organization Media Literacy Village, a research-based non-profit organization that aims to offer an online platform of curated and well categorized global media and information literacy (MIL), making resources accessible and usable for researchers, teachers and parents. For now, this project is on hold as I am putting all my energy into the Clearinghouse.
Which topics have you focused on in your own research?
My PhD thesis focused on the relations between writing, technology and young people. Using an ethnographic approach, I wanted to analyse the on- and offline writing practices of adolescents. In an era of keyboards, cell phones, links, social networks and multimodal ways of interacting, what is the status and role of writing for an audience that has been growing up online, using keystrokes for everyday communication? What challenges and opportunities could this mean for educational practices?
In your work at the Clearinghouse, what will be your immediate assignments?
My responsibility includes being involved in content research, book editing, cooperation and international networking, related to the topics of childhood, youth, media, culture, technology and media and information literacy.
The first projects I will be working on in 2014 are the following:
The release of a new book called Media Education: Initiatives in Brazil, Portugal and Spain. This anthology of about 30 articles is expected to be launched in May. For the first time, the Clearinghouse will publish a book in the authors’ native languages of Portuguese and Spanish, a step towards strengthening our network and international cooperation in this linguistic area.
I am also going to attend an international conference on MIL in Croatia in June.
Together with the information coordinator Catharina Bucht, I will work on behalf of the Clearinghouse to strengthen and foster dialogues among the current 1,000 members of the network, as well as making new contacts.
I am very happy and excited to be part of the Clearinghouse!
From your perspective, what are the most current topics within the field of children, youth and media?
On the Internet, children and young people have experienced spheres of identity construction, collaboration, sociability, freedom, subjectivity construction, authorship exercises, entertainment options, experiences and all sorts of learning.
What have they learnt about gender issues and stereotypes? About civic and political participation? About authorship and creativity? About self-image? About the analysis of information sources and credibility? About what is going on in the world and democracy? About themselves and others; are there intergenerational, intercultural dialogues? And how are schools dealing with all this?
I believe that, now more than ever, MIL is fundamental. Alarmist claims and censorship attempts have proven to be insufficient. Even more important than protecting children is preparing them to deal with the risks and possibilities that the online and offline world may present.
I hope to be able to find research and initiatives that have involved, and that are displaying, children and young people as (political) actors, with their opinions and voices included in the public sphere of decision-making. And I hope children, young people, adults, the elderly, teachers, media professionals, politicians – all of us – are able to learn, discuss and communicate, and be properly represented by and through, the media.
Finally, addressing and bridging the digital divide will be crucial in achieving involvement and, ultimately, democracy.