Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The New Media & Education...


Just as the printing press changed the world by placing books & information in more hands, I believe that today's new media is revolutionizing the world. Do we, as teachers, understand the significance of "New Media" and how it is changing the lives of our students?

The printing press made it possible to mass produce/re-produce text so that more people could obtain information than was ever possible before. However, a select few controlled those presses. Even with development of radio and television, wealthy individuals and corporations served as the gate-keepers to those channels. Still today, the cost to publish a book or to communicate via radio or TV, is astronomical.

With the "New Media" of today, however, the paradigms of publishing and broadcasting are changing. For example, Radio and Television shows can be made with consumer grade audio & video hardware. They can then be edited with almost any computer running fairly inexpensive software. Then distributed via the internet for little to almost no cost at all! Books are just as easy. With a good idea, anyone can write a book, format it digitally for any/all eReader devices and distribute that book in any eBook store like Amazon, or iBooks. A great example of the power of "New Media" is the story of Greyson Chance. Greyson, at the age of 12 performed a cover of Lady Gaga's hit "Paparazzi." The video was posted to YouTube and as of today has nearly 39 million hits. It was viewed by Ellen DeGeneres, he was invited on her show and signed to a record deal with her record label.

So what does this new media mean for today's students? It means that ideas are no longer controlled by traditional media outlets. Any good idea, talent, or work can be shared, published and distributed by anyone, at anytime; with little, to no cost...especially when compared to traditional means. By teaching technology along with our subjects we are teaching our students skills that can open doors of opportunity beyond the imagination of prior generations. Today, we have not only information, but tools, and medium that can bring the world and it's opportunities at our fingertips. We need teachers that understand this concept, teach it, and thus empower today's students.

New media is not limited to radio, TV & Books. There is a gold rush happening in the world of mobile apps today. The software required to develop these apps is available for free. There are classes being offered in secondary schools, colleges, and even summer camps, on how to develop your own mobile app.

Today's media brings many challenges to education. However, new media is not to be feared, but rather taught, studied, understood, and leveraged to show our students that they, truly, can do anything they put their minds to.