I have been thinking a lot about the space of multimedia authoring in higher education lately, and it just seems to me that most universities I have been at are grossly under-prepared for the challenges that freshmen over the next ten years are going to represent in terms of “non-traditional” authoring. In fact, Gardner’s Donne Seminar podcasts are one example of incorporating a “non-traditional” (whatever the hell that means) media authoring tool into a 16th and 17th century Brit Lit college classroom. As it has been recently claimed, if technology is understood as a heuristic then we must consider how such techniques for learning and discovering shape the context in which we learn and, hence, the content that we learn.
I have been particularly interested in these questions because over a year and a half ago I turned my then 14 year old nephew on to Sorenson Squeeze, he has since discovered how to edit films quite impressively – moreover, he has just started publishing them on his very own blog! Wow, here’s a kid who is developing a filmic vocabulary that is allowing him to communicate ideas, emotions, and his own life experience quite effectively through numerous mediums to a potential audience of millions.
There is no question that universities privilege the written word over all other media, yet there is a question as to how long this can and will remain the case. We are, indeed, embarking on a brave new world characterized, at least for the moment, by a popular digital-authoring movement (just go check out youtube.com if you don’t believe me)- but are we at all prepared here in higher-ed? Not by a long-shot!
Change is coming, but I fear it will be slow, at least from the side where these new ways of authoring content get looked at as a viable alternative to the written paper. Paradigm shift is easy for no one. This one seems to be especially difficult because it moves between the digital natives (those who grew up with personal computers) and the digital immigrants (those who learned the technology later).
One hopeful thing – authoring tools seem to get easier and easier to use, while still allowing great levels of creativity. This might speed up the shift once everyone feels some level of comfort with the process of creating multimedia.