Educational Film Practice in Austria – Showcasing a Digital Educational Film Collection


28 Jun 2023, 12:00 – 28 Jun 2023, 13:00


BBF | Research library for the History of Education at DIPF, Warschauer Str. 34, 10243 Berlin, Germany

Presentation by Christian Dewald, Katrin Pilz and Marie-Noëlle Yazdanpanah at the 19th Symposium of School Museums and Collections of Educational History (SMCEH 19) in Berlin

Since the early 20th century there were initiatives and institutions in Austria that produced and distributed educational films as well as accompanying didactic materials and cooperated closely with state institutions such as the Ministry of Education. A successor organization still exists today. However, the continuous history of educational film in Austria has not yet been thoroughly researched, nor is there a public, systematic, central collection of educational films. In the two national film archives, the Austrian Film Museum and the Film Archive Austria, educational films are regarded as “fellow travelers”, and are archived without accompanying materials (such as slides, textbooks or teaching charts). Often the supplementary paperwork (production documents, scripts, distribution lists, etc.), which is separated from the film reels for conservation reasons, is also lost.

The research project Educational Film Practice in Austria started here and aimed to bring the various educational film sources (texts and images) back together, to examine their relationships to each other, and thus also to explore the practices of educational film from 1918 to the mid-1960s. An important consideration was that employing the moving image for instructional, informational, and pedagogical purposes was––and still is––accompanied by debates about the implications of image rather than text-based knowledge transfer, oscillating between high hopes for the moving image’s educational capacity and warnings of dissipation of knowledge and cultural decline.

One result of the project is a relational database, which we focus on in the presentation and use to exemplify our reflections on the practices of educational film. Its structure follows the project’s central thesis, according to which these practices only take on concrete forms in the link between institutional strategies, screening situations and the styles and content of the films shown. Usually, the films were combined with explanations by teachers, slides or maps, as well as methodical-didactic handouts. With the help of the database, the documents of this practice, which are scattered across diverse archives, can be assigned to the films to which they were related. The database is accessible to the public and is aimed at educators and researchers as well as film enthusiasts who are interested in historical and didactic questions about educational film. The results of the project on the practices of educational film can thus not only be traced and understood by users, but the interface of the database also serves as a starting point for making references other than those suggested in the texts.

Veranstalter: DIPF | Leibniz-Institut für Bildungsforschung und Bildungsinformation, Berlin

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