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Monday, July 10, 2006

The Road less traveled will Converge: Lessons from the new Rhodes school of journalism



The road less traveled will con-verge and not di-verge!

I've been reading about some incredible setups at
Rhodes University’s School of Journalism and Media Studies. Their new building designs reflects the evolution of mainstream media.

"The core of the design of this building is the idea of convergence. Think TV on your cellphone. Think internet on your tv. Think radio on your iPod (podcasts). Workspaces lend themselves to multimedia production (where photojournalism students sit alongside design students who put together the festival newspaper Cue)."
They are doing amazing things:
Last year, for example, students packaged at least one video report a day focused on big stories or issues at fest. There was also an interactive map where site visitors could mark points anywhere in town and make notes (which others could see). Festinos could also take pictures with their cellphones and then send them (via MMS) to a dedicated number which saw these pictures posted on the site.

Students used digital audio recorders, video cameras and a computer lab to turn (what was sometimes) boring news about drama productions into dynamic storytelling.
Who teaches dynamic storytelling?

I believe, dynamic storytellers
are the superstar of tomorrow! In training such students, the media buzzword has become "convergence" with delivery of news any place and anywhere we want it. The article says:

"It follows that if young people worldwide are reading more and more blogs (and trusting them more than mainstream media), the hordes of young people at fest this year (rather different to the aging crowds of years gone by) are getting information and news the way they want it."
How will education converge?

I believe that education will also experience convergence though most will fight it kicking and screaming. Instead of looking up words in a dictionary, why don't we allow kids to Google define them on their cell phones? Instead of making kids buy one-use clickers -- we should have multiple choice texting using cell phones. iPods, cell phones, blogs, wikis and other emerging technologies are valid conduits of educational material!

Kids don't trust textbooks any more than they trust mainstream media. Why don't they deliver education to one another with teachers as guides on the side instead of being the sage on the stage?


This is not about lax or low quality education, God forbid! Excellence! Excellence! Excellence! But the medium has got to change!

The monotone teacher repeating the name "Bueller" in the front of the classroom doesn't work. Convergence of the technologies kids love will.

But it will take visionaries and risk takers who understand that this new convergence is not the death of education but may well be its salvation!

Blogging may be the fad of the moment for some educators, but it is real to students.

This is the mantra of the New Net educator:

Two roads converged in a wood, and I—
faced forward and did not turn round nigh,
And that has made all the difference.

(Hopefully Robert Frost will forgive me!)
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