“Like the technologies that preceded it – print, radio, television – New Media is set to change our lives and our learning in fundamental ways. Never before have we had such a great variety of educational tools at our disposal so inexpensively and so widely available. We can reach out to our customers, clients, and students almost anywhere in the world with the touch of button. ”
New Media consists of four pillars:
- Online video sharing sites, such as YouTube,
- Podcasting , which allows the automatic delivery of audio and video to listeners and viewers,
- Live video streaming, such as uStream.tv and Justin.tv, and
- Social media, that is, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and other such services.
All of these together form New Media – new ways of delivering information and interacting with our audience, whoever or wherever they might be.
As with any new technology, inertia and fear threaten to limit our use of these tools. We spend months and years evaluating, analyzing and investigating, but end up doing very little. As with other educational tools, you must engage with New Media to find its usefulness to you and your students.
Inertia is a powerful force. Objects at rest remain at rest unless acted upon by an outside force. For many of us, the object is New Media and inertia is management apathy, status quo thinking, and fear of change. This can lead to an almost impenetrable barrier to New Media adoption, and all the benefits it can bring. Your job is to get the ball rolling – to nudge the New Media rock – one small inch at a time.
With each movement, the other part of the inertial law will begin to take effect: objects in motion remain in motion. Movement begets more movement. Momentum yields more momentum. Soon you will find yourself using more and more New Media tools as the walls start to crumble.
Not either/or, but rather yes/and
One roadblock I often face when introducing New Media is the either/or mentality. There is a belief that we must choose either this or that tool, either this or that method. When introducing New Media to your work I suggest moving beyond either/or and toward yes/and. Using New Media tools does not mean you abandon previous methods. Instead, you use New Media to expand existing methods while introducing new ones. Certainly, some tools will have outlived their usefulness, but many will find new life in combination with New Media. Conversely, you will find that some New Media tools don’t add value to your work. Your goal is to find the best of both old and new and combine them in new and powerful ways. Embrace both the old and the new. Say Yes/And.
Selling New Media
I find that convincing someone of the usefulness and power of New Media is very difficult in the abstract. We can talk about how audio, video, online communities, and social networks can expand the educational playing field, but the power of New Media is in the “doing.” One of the best methods of introducing New Media tools into your work is by finding those small niches in the educational environment where you can apply New Media. You use a New Media tool and then judge its effectiveness. Use it a bit more and let people see where and when it is effective. Then, slowly, expand its use further and further until it becomes a major tool in your educational toolbox.
In this way, you bring people along slowly. You don’t try to convert them with one dramatic gesture. You take them step-by-step, class-by-class, project-by-project, holding their hand the entire time until they start walking on the New Media path all by themselves. Even more importantly, though, when something obviously doesn’t work, you let it go. Not every tool will work for you and your environment. You won’t find the “value added” in every new service or program. We don’t live in an idealized world. Everything can’t be perfect, but you will be better for investigating that tool or service than you would have been without. You learn something with each try. You should not discount this.
It doesn’t take a lot of money
One of the most striking aspects of New Media is how much you can do inexpensively, and even for free. As you move forward you might invest in larger, more robust systems, but investigating New Media often requires little more than access to the Internet. With inexpensive tools like the Flip HD pocket camcorders, and free software like Apple’s iMovie, you can create professional-looking materials that, in the past, might have cost tens of thousands of dollars. There are very few financial excuses for not investigating how New Media can help your department or company.
To repeat, never before have we had such a wide variety of educational tools at our disposal so inexpensively and so widely available. This is indeed a whole new world. It is to your benefit to grasp the best of these new tools and wield them well, to take you and your students to new levels of learning.
Special note: Hear Doug speak on “Making the Case for Using New Media for e-Learning”! Sign up for The eLearning Guild’s October Online Forum, Integrating Media into Your e-Learning, October 7 and 8. See all the details at http://www.elearningguild.com/online-forums/content/1586/home