Sunday, June 9, 2013

Marshal McLuhan and hot and cold media and other thoughts for eLearning

Marshal McLuhan and hot and cold media.
In building a blended eLearning resource for online learning, it behoves us (you don’t get to use that word often) to take a look over our shoulders at Marshal McLuhan’s work on media in the sixties.
Radio vs. TV. We find that students are often more inclined to download course materials as an Mp3 audio filer rather than as a MP4 Video.
McLuhan had this taped. Radio is a cool medium. It does not require our total attention. For eLearning this may not seem like something we want but we have to look beyond the immediate. The Mp3 file may be listened to multiple times as the student drives to work, goes for a work out in the Jim etc.
Video on the other hand is a hot medium it requires total engagement and its difficult to combine absorbing this material with driving a car for instance.
So use video sparingly. Use it as a welcome to the course maybe and to demonstrate specific content for which it is the most compact way of presenting it.
Present it in small chunks, and if possible allow the user to alter the speed of playback.
The next piece of McLuhan is the idea that the medium is the message. And associated with it, the idea that the content of any medium is always another medium. This one plays into our practice in two ways; the first is to be aware of what we are saying by our choice of delivery system. If I prescribe the exact sequence in which you will peruse the learning content I am giving you, I may think that I am making informed and sensible choices on your behalf as to what is the most appropriate sequence in which to consume my content. You on the other hand may see it as an arrogant and inflexible set of assumptions as to just how ignorant the learner is.
The second  concept here, that the content of any medium is another medium is more straightforward to apply. If my video is just me speaking, then the video content is audio. If my audio is me reading from a prepared script, then the content is text.

Maybe we are in a position to cut out some of the media middlemen.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Thoughts after watching “a day made of glass” and the “Microsoft Productivity future vision” pieces.

Thoughts after watching “a day made of glass” and the “Microsoft Productivity future vision” pieces.

Education is about building internalized models of reality. These models are then used to inform our actions with respect to possible futures.

In the corning model, a model of light mixing was played with in a very high tech way on a light table. This example was presumably chosen as content which would be immediately clear when you saw it on the video clip.  The learning involved a group collaborating to explore a cool educational artefact. As a model of collaborative and group education it was a nice example.  The park scene showing the dinosaurs was another easy pick up with its reference to the movie Jurassic park.  

The Microsoft educational vision was weaker. Although the whole tone of the video was corporate, the educational segment showed drill and kill math teaching with 20 year old graphics of a Bear.  The use of high tech to avoid the effort of opening the fridge door… How cool/pointless was that?

Education is a conversation. It is a communication. It is articulated structured and may contain Satori moments, but at the end of the day it’s a two way flow of information.  The corning vision showed an enriched channel with more interactions going in more directions.

My vote Corning: +1, Microsoft: try again.