Lights, camera, learning: teaching with the moving image

A conference organised by Learning on Screen and School of Arts, Birkbeck, University of London

Thursday 19 – Friday 20 April 2018

Birkbeck, University of London, 43 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PD

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To mark our seventieth anniversary in 2018, Learning on Screen together with Birkbeck, University of London is pleased to announce a two-day conference exploring the history of teaching and learning with the moving image.

Formal education in many contexts increasingly relies on screen-based media, and there are active debates about the appropriate uses and efficacy of many forms of digital applications for learning. But it can be argued that current practice lacks a historical understanding of practices for learning with screens that stretch back at least to the interwar period. And while in the United States researchers have begun to investigate productively the uses of film and television in schools and similar institutions, its production contexts and reception (as is evidenced by the collections Useful Cinema (2011) and Learning with the Lights Off (2012)), such research in Britain remains comparatively underdeveloped.

Lights, camera, learning aims to bring together film and television historians with those engaged with the history of educational practice and policy and with practitioners past and present, to explore how film and television with explicit educational aims has been argued for, produced, funded, distributed, shown, received, discussed and understood over the past century in Britain.

The conference will address in particular three strands of this history:

  • Production, content and technologies of screen-based educational media
  • Classroom practice and pedagogies for the reception and use of film and television
  • Policy debates and determinations about the place and value of moving image media in formal education

Proposals for 20-minute panel papers are invited covering all aspects of the histories of teaching and learning in schools, universities and other institutions with and from moving image media, including:

  • The history of pedagogical practice with moving image media within formal education
  • Development and dissemination of techniques for using moving images in education
  • Understandings of the educational value of moving images
  • Religious and social concerns about the use of films in education
  • Government initiatives supporting the promotion and production of moving images for education
  • Founding of the BUFC in 1948, and the subsequent development of BUFVC and Learning on Screen, together with its activities, services and publications
  • The role of the British Film Institute in developing educational moving image media
  • The production of 16mm films for educational use, including the work of individual producers and production companies
  • Television production for schools, and the development of schools broadcasts by the BBC and ITV companies
  • Case studies of the creation and use of specific films and television productions
  • Media production after 1969 by the Open University, its dissemination and use
  • Distribution services for moving image media to education
  • The acquisition, use and maintenance of projectors, television sets and video recorders in institutions
  • Reception studies of educational moving image media
  • Integration of moving images with the curriculum
  • Production and dissemination of moving images by teachers and students
  • Legislation governing moving image media in schools, colleges and universities
  • Changing attitudes to permissions and copyright including the establishment of the ERA licence
  • Guides for the use of film and television in classrooms
  • Critical writing and theory about the use of moving image media in education

Submissions in the form of 300-word abstracts accompanied by a one-paragraph CV are invited by 30 November 2017

Please send submissions and queries to

Invitations to speakers will be issued by 31 December 2017

Lights, camera, learning is convened by Mike Allen (Birkbeck, University of London), Professor John Ellis (Royal Holloway, University of London), Dr Emma Sandon (Birkbeck, University of London) and John Wyver (University of Westminster)

Further information at: