BBC Schools beyond the TV Set: Educational Media Convergence in the Classroom

BBC Schools beyond the TV Set: Educational Media Convergence in the Classroom

María Luisa Zorrilla Abascal (University of East Anglia, UK & Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Morelos, Mexico)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-206-2.ch008
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This chapter focuses on media convergence of educational content particularly intended for television and the internet at the phase of its use in the classroom. The case that best reflects the convergence of educational TV-Web contents is BBC Schools in the United Kingdom, which includes television series and corresponding websites.
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Convergence: A Cultural Perspective

Convergence is an essential concept for this chapter. It is a term that has been widely used in referring to different ideas, although most of its applications within Cultural, Media and New Media Studies are related to the confluence of two or more media. There are two main understandings of media convergence: a) platform integration in the transmission-reception phases, which are possibilities based on technological development, such as online streaming video, webcasting, podcasting, PCTV, mobile television, interactive television, etc.; and b) content integration in the production and consumption phases, which refers to cultural practices and conceptions, such as simultaneous and collaborative TV-web production, transmedia storytelling and models for sharing and generating users’ content.2

These two main understandings – technological and cultural convergence – might oversimplify the complex scenario of media convergence which is characterised by multiple levels and manifestations: media industries merge; media texts are marketed across several platforms; technological devices, gadgets and services are brought together by an increasing connectivity and the magic of digitalization; viewers interact with content and choose to consume from a variety of delivery options; professional roles converge in merged media and non-merged media companies; and producers and consumers join in the creation of new forms of content.

Media convergence is also related to earlier concepts such as multimedia (McCormick, 1986; Schnotz 2005), unimedia (Lévy, 1997; Inglis et al., 1999) and multimodal (Lévy, 1997; Kress, 2003), which are later discussed at the light of some findings of this project.

However, as pointed out by Freedman (2006, p. 288) convergence “…is not the multimedia convergence long predicted by technologists and futurologists but media compatibility that points to the emergence of a new, varied and complex media environment co-habited by offline and online, mobile and fixed, visual and text-based technologies”.

Henry Jenkins has a similar perception of the discourse around technological convergence, which he defines as the Black Box Fallacy:

Much contemporary discourse about convergence starts and ends with what I call the Black Box Fallacy. Sooner or later, the argument goes, all media content is going to flow through a single black box into our living rooms (or, in the mobile scenario, through black boxes we carry around with us everywhere we go) […] Part of what makes the black box concept a fallacy is that it reduces media change to technological change and strips aside the cultural levels. (Jenkins, 2006, p. 14)

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