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Teaching Communication Now!

October 23, 2008

As a longtime communications teacher, I am fascinated by our changing communications media and platform. And when I’m teaching, no matter the direct subject I’m teaching, I never lose awareness of the changes our culture is going through, and the responsibility of teachers to help prepare our students for this new and rapidly evolving communications environment. They will be swimming in it for the rest of their professional and personal lives.

What is often unnoticed is that in just over a century we have gone from having one way of recording, putting marks on paper, to multiple ways of recording, all more viscerally immediate than text. Photographs, recorded sound, moving pictures all speak more directly to our senses and emotions than squiggles on paper – which our minds must translate into meaning before we can have our sense and emotional responses. It is easier to think critically when text is what we are ‘reading’ than it is when we see and hear less mediated (so to speak) representations of the world we live in. We are now living in what Ong called “secondary orality” and that is what our students have been growing up in, and to a certain extent, what we grew up in too.

I have never known a world without photographs, radio and records, movies and television. However, text was still the dominant medium, at least in my educational experiences, for most of my early schooling, and mass media ruled. I looked, listened and watched, but I could only critique; I couldn’t participate.

Now I can sit in my study and produce multimedia, as in this blog post.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The audio is poor, but understandable, and I’m combining text with video. I can embed other sites, like what I thought about this new multimedia platform that we can access using computers –

and I can link to other sites for readers/viewers who want to explore more of the educational possibilities – http://jnthweb.pbwiki.com/

and I can make movies using my screen –
Vodpod videos no longer available.
more about “Generating a Table of Figures in Word…”, posted with vodpod

There are other tools that I can use to create a mixed media text, and, here is the point I want to make:

We need to be teaching our students (technical and non-technical) how to compose using the expanding possibilities of the web as a multimedia, participatory communication platform!

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