Comunicar Journal Blog

Why do we learn…or not?


Written by Ana Almansa   Translated by Daniela Jaramillo-Dent

“This article argues that a better understanding of human beings is necessary in order to implement what is defined here as design for deep learning”. With this phrase I am drawn to the article “Designing for deep learning in the context of digital and social media”, published in Comunicar 58.

James-Paul Gee, Professor at Arizona State University (United States), and Moisés Esteban-Guitart, Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Girona (Spain), are the authors of this article. It theorizes about the human being as the main axis in the learning and interpersonal processes: “people become travel companions in a journey through life with others”.
It is, without a doubt, an article that invites reflection on people and how we act. The article appeals from beginning to end. And the ending in particular does not leave one indifferent: “Human beings are primates. School and inequality in society have killed the psychobiological passion for learning, for epistemological sensitivity (Bruner, 2012) and for solving problems in many people. We are faced with a large number of problems that are difficult to solve. Perhaps the problem with “design for deep learning” is not really that human beings don’t like effort, but that they need to discover what they really are: beings who grow up struggling and learning when they perceive that there are rays of light, recognition and hope”.

I invite you to read the full text here.


Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Young people’s learning with digital media beyond school: From the informal to the formal

Author:  Ana Sedeño   Translator:  Daniela Jaramillo-Dent

priscilla-du-preez-XkKCui44iM0-unsplashThe paper “Young people learning from digital media outside of school: The informal meets the formal” published in issue 58 of Comunicar Journal, presents the research results of professors Sara Pereira, Joana Fillol and Pedro Morur from the University of Miño in Braga (Portugal). It deals with informal learning and its relationship to the school. This article was based on data from workshops, interviews and questionnaires collected from 78 young people aged 12-16 in schools located in northern Portugal.

The study undertakes a new bibliographical review of the reflections and studies in which the media have proven to significantly contribute complementary content to adolescents’ learning, as part of the Transmedia Literacy project, a European project that attempted to systematize different perspectives on this phenomenon. The study analyzes the informal learning strategies of adolescents, presented as an explanatory diagram divided by Trial/Error, Information Search and Imitation/inspiration.

It seems that students at these ages are aware of this cultural and educational gap and do not expect to learn about media in school: “They are two different worlds,” they say.

Some solutions provided by researchers include changes in educational policies and the production of resources to help teachers train in media topics and use them on a daily basis in the classroom, while at the same time develop transmedia literacy skills. You can read the full article here.

Critical Citizenship and Social Empowerment

The latest issue of Comunicar (Vol. XXV, n. 53, 4th quarter, October 1 2017) ( sheds lights on one of the most popular topics in nowadays academia – cyber activism and empowerment. A meta-analysis leads four specific empirical studies based in different nations and regions.

In the past decade, along with the global uprising cases is the blossom of research on social activism that is inevitably intertwined with communication studies. Obviously, the prevalence of digital-aided communication tools has played an essential role not only in protesting activities, but in most areas of human social life. Use of digital media enlarges scale and transforms essence of social occurrences: the speed and scale of mass communication has been significantly heightened so that attentions on certain events have been broadened from local to global range; the breaking-out, mobilization and sustaining of social protests have been changed by people’s use of digital media. “Connective action” suggested by Lance Bennett and Alexandra Segerberg offers an innovative paradigm to refresh our understanding on how human actions could be connected with each other. (

In this current issue, papers such as “Cyberactivisim in the Process of Political and Social Change in Arab Countries” and “Protesting on Twitter: Citizenship and Empowerment from Public Education” prove the prevalence and importance of digital-aided communication in protests that are both contentious and on everyday bases. The former one highlights the sustaining of movement networks that allied citizens from contentious moments to the ever longer period of “movement awaited” – the ebbs and flows of protests. The latter one offers a mapping of how anonymous citizens reacted to governmental decisions on the online platform.

That said, the spectrum ranged from connective action and collective action spans from one end of human-organization based to another anonymity end that is fraught with uncertainties. In  “Cyberactivisim in the Process of Political and Social Change in Arab Countries“, human networks still contribute greatly in terms of protest mobilization and more importantly, bonding the morale when external stimulus demise. “Protesting on Twitter: Citizenship and Empowerment from Public Education” pointed out that, while the online platform is free from a lot of restrictions which hinder people’s participation in previous age, the citizenship, by all means, is actualized through people’s active social conscious and empowerment that is educated and practiced in everyday life in the real world.

New challenges such as human’s substitute AI (artificial intelligent) produce puzzles which are unsolvable at this stage, among which a crucial question goes to whether AI can really think. Perhaps AI can help with household chords while there is still a long way to go before AI can take an active role in the world – the learning, practicing and reflecting what do human mean to the society, and vice versa.




Reflections on “The Emotional Impact of Traditional and New Media in Social Events”


This research paper monitored Romanian mainstream media and social media for a month after a tragedy occurred. The fire occurred during a rock concert with 400 people in the club at the time, killing 64 and injured over 100. Minodora Salcudean and Raluca Muresan use “#Colectiv” to collect the data from the online press and from social media (mainly facebook, Instagram and twitter). The authors’ research suggests professional journalists still act as “responsible filters” when reporting the emotional tragedy. The authors believe the journalists make use of the authentic information and opinions from social media thus produce quality news report when covering a fire tragedy.

This research could be more comprehensive if the authors could take the impact of the picture into account when investigating how journalists use social media as a source and how emotional items are being quoted. As mentioned by the authors, social media is a cheap and convenient source of information, particularly in terms of citizen’s opinion and image-on-site. The latter is essential to the news report of tragedy, as 1) media might not have the resources or time to report onsite during the occurrence of tragedy; 2) news report with pictures, especially when related to victimization and emotions, are often found to have a greater popularity when compared to reports without images. Journalists could, therefore, be more likely to include images than text in their reports of tragedy.

Information from social media is a double-edged sword. Acquiring information is one thing, verifying is another. In the social media (and citizen journalism) era, fact-checking has never been so important for journalists. Journalism is valued due to credibility. Speed should not be a substitute for accuracy. The result suggested by this research is optimistic; whether it is the overall trends of journalism practices need to be examined in other countries, as well as in non-tragic daily life period.


Minodora Salcudean and Raluca Muresan. “The Emotional Impact of Traditional and New Media in Social Events.” Comunicar, 50 (2017).

Technologies and Second Languages (preprints)

We are very pleased that the preprints of our thematic proposal “Technologies and Second Languages” have now been published. It has been a very hard selection and edition as manuscripts arrived from all over the world. The final print and online version won’t be till the 1st. January 2017.


In the meanwhile, you may enjoy

Buyse, Kris and Fonseca Mora, M.C. (Thematic editors, 2016 preprints). Technologies and Second languages, Comunicar 50 (1)


Seamless Language Learning: Second Language Learning with Social Media/Aprendizaje de idiomas «sin costuras»: Aprendizaje de segundas lenguas y redes socialesLung-Hsiang Wong, Ching Sing-Chai & Guat Poh-Aw. Nanyang (Singapore) DOI:10.3916/C50-2017-01

Original Language Subtitles: Their Effects on the Native and Foreign Viewer/Subtítulos en lengua original: sus efectos en el espectador nativo y extranjero Jan-Louis Kruger, Stephen Doherty & María T. Soto-Sanfiel. Sidney & Barcelona (Australia & Spain) DOI:10.3916/C50-2017-02

Teachers’ Use of ICTs in Public Language Education: Evidence from Second Language Secondary-school Classrooms/La enseñanza de lenguas extranjeras y el empleo de las TIC en las escuelas secundarias públicas Jesús Izquierdo, Verónica de-la-Cruz-Villegas, Silvia-Patricia Aquino-Zúñiga, María-del-Carmen Sandoval-Caraveo & Verónica García Martínez. Ciudad de Villahermosa (Mexico) DOI:10.3916/C50-2017-03

Mobile Instant Messaging: Whatsapp and its Potential to Develop Oral Skills/Mensajería instantánea móvil: Whatsapp y su potencial para desarrollar las destrezas oralesAlberto Andújar-Vaca & Maria-Soledad Cruz-Martínez. Almería (Spain) DOI:10.3916/C50-2017-04

The tablet for Second Language Vocabulary Learning: Keyboard, Stylus or Multiple Choice/La tablet para el aprendizaje de vocabulario en segundas lenguas: teclado, lápiz digital u opción múltiple Stephanie Van-Hove, Ellen Vanderhoven & Frederik Cornillie. Gante & Lovaina (Belgium)

The Audiovisual Content Downloads among University Students

Internet has set the pace for the 21st century, also known as ‘digital era’. The spread of the Internet in any electronic device allows us to be communicated at all times, with its advantages and disadvantages. This revolution has made possible for the society to have easy access to Internet at home. In Spain, for example, 78.8% homes had Internet connection in 2015 (INE, 2015). Being able to be ‘online’ 24 hours a day provide not only free online programmes, but also downloadable films or series at no cost. Whether these practices are legal or moral is questionable.

The article in this post gives a thorough reflection on the uses that university students make of these downloads. Some of the results are eye-opening. In the survey undertaken, 67.3% of the participants said that their downloads were ‘pirated’, free and with no permission from the authors. Have they been informed about this matter? Are they really aware of the legal constraints in their uses?

I highly recommend reading this study that has received almost 1,000 online visits and whose aim is ‘to analyse the habits of audio-visual (movies and television series) consumption via the internet of university students; to detect their attitudes, knowledge and abilities as related to illegal downloading of content from the web; and to describe the education/training they perceive to have in relation to legal and ethical issues on the subject’ (Duarte-Hueros et al., 2016:52). How can we educate the new generations to look after the increasingly amount of audio-visual material ‘available at any time and any place’?


Duarte-Hueros, J., Duarte-Hueros, A. & Ruano-López, S. (2016). The Audiovisual Content Downloads among University Students [Las descargas de contenidos audiovisuales en Internet entre estudiantes universitarios.] Comunicar, 48, 49-57. (DOI


The Transformative Image: Revisiting an Old-school Concept

Andres et al. provide an insightful analytical framework to examine how the photograph of Aylan Kurdi engenders social transformation on the Syrian refugee crisis. The iconographic and iconological analyses in the article verify the power of visual images to provoke strong emotions—by mobilizing social conscience, they induce solidarity. “An image for solidarity is an image that can be appropriated by citizens to enable them to express themselves, to denounce and to recreate” (Andres et al. 2016). The process in which the widely circulated Aylan photograph turns into a solidarity movement operates in a grassroot communication model, in which citizens participate by engaging the image in a chain of resignification.

The semiotization of the Aylan photograph must proceed within the rules of the medium—photography—which Andres et al. have addressed in their iconographic analysis. The way in which photography is produced and reproduced is central to the medium’s ability to make meaning and induce social change. With that in mind, Walter Benjamin’s conceptualization of photography as mechanical reproduction of art presents three aspects that complement with Andres et al.’s framework.

Benjamin’s conceptualization is located within the context of photography, by capturing still images, reproduces real life situations, which in this case is the historical context of Aylan washed up drowned on a beach in Turkey amid the Syrian refugee crisis.

The first aspect of pictorial reproduction that has to do with the capacity to induce solidarity is that photography can bring out aspects of the original that is unattainable with the eye yet accessible through the lens. When one encounters the Aylan photograph, the naked eye may not perceive the full emotional impact one does through the lens, due to the lack of photographic technique such as the emphatic subjectivity of the low angle and the sense of impotence induced by the shallow depth of field. Such process reproduction of the scene assists in amplifying the beholders’ emotional response, thus mobilizing social conscience.

Second, technical reproduction can put the copy of the original into situations which would be out of reach for the original itself. The wide circulation of the Aylan image is attained largely due to the reproducibility of the photograph. And without vast dissemination channels such as social media, the image may only be seen on a few newspapers. Reproducibility of the photograph coupled with dynamic media networks make the image available in the public sphere, which is prerequisite for solidarity.

Third, mechanical reproduction permits replicas to meet the beholder in his own particular situation. Although reappropriation of the image sparks ethical debates, it contributes to the formation of solidarity when audiences actively engage with the image within their own contexts. An individualized view of the issue makes it meaningful to every beholder in their own distinct approaches. The bottom-up assemblage of individual will burgeons into a collective solidarity movement.

In Benjamin’s original conceptualization, mechanical reproduction was shed in a negative light for its destruction of the original’s “authenticity.” Today, pictorial reproduction becomes central to positive social change, with its unique capacity to get “closer” with citizens, ultimately leading to meaningful social action.


(Image taken from Thierry Ehrmann’s flickr)


  1. de-Andres, Susana, Eloisa Nos-Aldas, and Agustin Garcia-Matilla. “The Transformative Image. The Power of a Photograph for Social Change: The Death of Aylan.” Comunicar 47 (2016). Accessed March 13, 2016. doi: 10.3916/C47-2016-03
  2. Benjamin, Walter. “The Work of Art in the Age of its Technological Reproducibility.” In Film Theory and Criticism, edited by Gerald Mast and Marshall Cohen, 675-94. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985.

Some thoughts related to the new trend in the studies of the Internet and emotion

In this day and age, the Internet sphere has become a habitual place for the everyday communication. The article Internet and Emotions: New Trends in an Emerging Field of Research. Serrano-Puche (2016) mapped out different research areas where the Internet and emotions converge within Media and Communication. It introduced some studies focus on the analysis of a specific emotion including empathy, annoyance, envy or jealousy, resentment and hope; the latter part emphasized the analysis of emotions in relation to the social networks, where Lasén argued that rather than a means of communication, the digital realm is a space that we inhabit and that it inhabits us. (Lasén, 2014)

Under the guidance of Serrano-Puche’s article, I found that the large-scale emotion contagion, which is described as the viral spread of content in the digital realm, is closely linked to emotion marketing, a popular marketing tactic utilized by the online TV drama producers in mainland China.

Online drama series have never been as trendy as in recent age in mainland China. 2015 witnessed the success of Surprise and Go princess go in mainland. The latter one, a time travel series launched in December 2015 by the LeTV, has attracted more than 1.53 billion clicks for episode 1 and heatedly discussed across different social media platforms (Weibo, Wechat, forums, etc.). As the plot and the criticism spread widely, more and more netizens joined the parade of commenting and watching, leading to an increase of more than 500 thousand on the membership of the website of LeTV in a short period and brought a direct profit of 10 million yuan to its producer and distributor.

This adaptation based on an online novel and is a no-brain episodes (easy-to-digest program) for relaxation in comparison to other dramas on the list. The colourful scene settings, weird costumes and props are prepared delicately by the film crew for the purpose of creating feelings of surprise, self-mockery and joy. As the topic of this TV series meets the requisite of sharing, it produced an extraordinary amount of buzz online. To put it in a more post-90s way: they created gag lines to arouse more bullet curtains. That means the registered members can comment while watching the video with their commentary creating a visual effect of a series of barrage on the screen, and this is a Japanese term originated from one kind of shooting game.

In fact, audience were induced by the marketing team to comment on the plot. Post 90s and 00s are netizens inhabited by such kind of culture, and they are willing to create punchlines by themselves. Commenting on the scene or reposting articles that share the same view will provide the person with more comments from friends and clicks on the like button in social media platform like Wechat, and that would bring him/her the feelings of satisfaction and drive him to produce more content and enjoy the same felling again and again. When a person is commenting on or reposting articles about a media product, the interaction is from human to the machine directly, which means it is simple and private that there is no need to hide his/her emotion. As the same sentiment is contagious in the Internet sphere, it then becomes popular, and a series of commenting and reposting made up an action of large-scale communication and auto promotion for the product.

Emotion marketing is a habitual tactic for LeTV and there is no exception for Go Princess Go, with which LeTV grabbed audience’s attention and money before they rationally awaken to it. We can tell, from this case, that the market potential of netizens in mainland are huge and the tactic to stimulate them still needs further studies.

the hat of royal doctor is a parody of Chanel



  1. Serrano-Puche, J. (2016) Internet and emotions: New trends in an emerging field of research, Comunicar, 24, 19-26.
  2. Lasén, A. (2014). Introducción. Las mediaciones digitales de la edu- cación sentimental de los y las jóvenes. In I. Megía Quirós, & E. Ro- dríguez-San-Julián (Coords.), Jóvenes y comunicación. La impron- ta de lo virtual, 7-16. Madrid: Fundación de Ayuda contra la Drogadicción.
  3. Xu Fei, Conversation with the Supervisor Gan Wei: Marketing team did a good job, and we are not a team in poverty(对话《太子妃升职记》监制甘薇:营销立大功 剧组真不穷) [online](2016, Jan 14). Retrieved from
  4. Tai Zi Fei Sheng Zhi Ji internet program (太子妃升职记网络剧) (2015, Dec 24). We got the doctor a hat! [Microblog post]. Retrieved from





Comunicar: Internet and Emotions

Addressed to the worldwide research community, the article Internet and Emotions: New Trends in an Emerging Field of Research (Serrano Puche, 2016) is a useful guide both for researchers and practitioners.  It overcomes the typical dissociation between different research fields and explains the importance of affect, the mediation effect of emotions in any human activity, also while surfing the net or in relation to the use of digital technology. This article reviews studies that have analized emotions such as empathy, annoyance, envy or jealousy, resentment, hope, hatred or grief  expressed in the different social media. Not less relevant is the analysis of emotional contagion through social networks and the viral spread phenomenon. Without any doubt, the study of emotions  in any research field, as in this case in Media and Communications studies, helps us to better understand the way in which this affection has an influence on the personal identity of humans.

internet and emotions

Some further thoughts about ICTs and elderly

Llorente, C.,Viñarás, M. & Sánchez, M. (2015). Internet and the Elderly: Enhancing Active Ageing. Comunicar, 45, 29-36.

Bosch, T. & Currin, B. (2015). Uses and Gratifications of Computers in South African Elderly People. Comunicar, 45, 09-18.

From the two articles published recently on Comunicar, I spot that there has been an increasing interest on elderly’s ICT utility in the academia from different regions. Authors of the articles published in this issue all pointed out that,  previous studies used to focus on ICT use among the young population, who are always the pioneers in waves of social change. But with the prevalence of ICTs, elderlies also join the force, and make a special area for exploration due to some special characteristics carried by this group of population.

Bosch & Currin, focusing on the active role of the old people, found out “how” and “why” some South African elderlies use computer in their everyday life.  The need to communicate and the aspiration of new information have made important reasons for them to use new technologies, especially when they encounter some unavoidable inconvenience when getting older and older. Llorente, Viñarás & Sánchez stressed on what have been brought to the old generation when ICTs become part of their life. Information, Communication, administrative purpose and leisure are the main advantages brought by ICTs. These are also correspondent to Bosch & Currin’s study on old people’s computer use.

Admittedly, I mostly agree with the above authors and I have to say that personal computers and ICTs (internet-based mobile devices) have had big influence on the elderlies in my own family – active ageing. For example, among my family members over 80-year-old, there is a 100% penetration of mobile devices and 80% penetration of internet devices. My grandfather is 86-year-old now and he uses iPad over 5 hours each day for family communication, news reading and entertainment, which are exactly the features pointed out by Llorente, Viñarás & Sánchez. However, he always has hesitation in terms of online transaction. He still remains a traditional way of financial management by keeping money in the own pocket.

Facing the academic findings and my own experience, I can not stop by keep considering some unsolved issues:

While e-commerce has become popular among the young population, is it also applicable to the old generation who is also ICT users? How to further explore the nuanced generation difference in different aspects of ICT use?

Is there any cultural difference on the issue of ICT-elderly relationship?

As I have observed that the online contents attract old people’s attention have very large difference with those draw young people’s attention. In Chinese society, we have something called “graphs of the elderly” (conservative messages or benediction words in very coarse graph design). Is it a noteworthy aspect for further study from a qualitative approach regarding generational differences of online contents?