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Learning programme design

Media studies programmes need to be carefully planned. This section suggests how to go about this planning and provides examples of programmes.

In media studies, students will study a variety of media (for example, film, television, radio, the Internet, and print). When developing a programme, there are two possible approaches:

  • Students learn about texts in their contexts and use this knowledge in practice.
  • Through their own practice, students learn about texts and their contexts.

Good programmes are based on effective pedagogy

Good programmes depend on effective pedagogy. When planning, keep in mind the four social science mechanisms: connection, alignment, community, and interest.


  • Connect learning to the lived experiences of students.
  • Encourage students to use their experiences as a point of comparison when learning about other people’s experiences.
  • Select contexts and resources that make diversity visible.
  • Avoid biased and stereotypical representations.


  • Align activities and resources to enable students to develop understandings of the key concepts and the three curriculum strands: Media in society, reading media texts, and media production.
  • Make the aims of the programme transparent to students.
  • Plan flexible learning programmes that provide opportunities for students to revisit important content and processes.
  • Focus assessment on valued learning.


  • Develop students’ interaction skills and acknowledge multiple abilities and contributions.
  • Offer tasks and experiences that require student–student dialogue and interaction.
  • Ensure students make decisions about their own learning, think critically, and participate in authentic contexts.


  • Reflect students’ differing interests, motivations, and responses.
  • Provide a variety of experiences that become memorable anchors for learning and recall.
  • Use local contexts in which students have a direct stake to engage them with the community, and provide bridges to global issues.

Questions to ask when planning your programme

Curriculum alignment

  • Have I used the key concepts as overarching ideas in my programme?
  • What do I want the students to learn? Within a year? As a scaffolded progression across three years? For example, in each year, how do I advance student learning of media language but also consolidate their prior learning?
  • Have I offered a range of teaching and learning opportunities, across both local and global contexts and in and outside the classroom?
  • Can I easily, and ethically, acquire media texts for teaching and learning?
  • Can a single year’s course stand alone?
  • How can I accommodate the challenges my students might experience in sight, hearing, or learning difficulties? For example, a sight-challenged learner can work successfully in audio mediums such as film narration or radio broadcasts.

Timing and schedules

  • Is the course manageable in terms of workload and allotted time? Do I have a balance of practical and theoretical work? Have I taken into account holidays, examination study weeks, and other interruptions?
  • How can I support students who are balancing multiple commitments in and out of school? For example, can I establish a media studies website that students can use if they wish to revise, want to extend their in-class learning, examine exemplars, and practise essay writing or examination answers?


  • How can I ensure there is sufficient content and contexts to meet student achievement? To meet the cultural diversity of my class? My school?
  • How can I build in active links with my local community and local media producers in a way that is meaningful for learners?
  • How can I engage external agencies or speakers to advance the students’ breadth and width of learning?
  • Is there an adequate balance of different mediums across my three-year programme?


  • Have I ensured that assessment (and reassessment) opportunities align with NZQA recommendations and guidelines?
  • What review and evaluation processes can I implement throughout year to ensure I have met the needs of my learners and am responding to them in my planning?

Practical work

  • Is the practical production integrated into the course as a whole? Does the theoretical work provide a framework for the practical skills? (For example, studying radio and producing radio documentaries.)
  • Will there be repeated opportunities throughout the year to use and develop skills in media technology?
  • What technologies do I have available now and what technologies will I need to organise by the end of the three-year course? What types of purchasing do I need to do and when?
  • What types of dialogue do I need to have with colleagues to acquire the correct learning spaces for my courses?

Last updated August 7, 2012