Tuesday, August 15, 2006

'New Media:' CTE Looks to the Future

Some readers, but certainly not new AU students, will know that Dormgrandpop, in addition to being Dormgrandpop, directs AU's Center for Teaching Excellence. For more information about the Center, whose primary mission is to 'celebrate and facilitate excellent teaching and learning,' checkout our website at www.american.edu/cte. Each semester, CTE publishes a small newsletter entitled Arete, a Greek term which means, roughly, excellence. In this sememster's edition I wrote about how we are 'looking to the future.' The text follows:

Meeting day-to-day operational responsibilities require major commitments of time, resources and passion in CTE . Responsibilities include the operation of teaching-learning laboratories, Noontime Conversations, training workshops, classroom instructional support, audiovisual support, hundreds of individual consultations and much more. Our name for these activities is ‘good stewardship.’ Sustaining high levels of good stewardship is a top CTE priority.

But it is not our only priority. It is equally important that CTE staff members aggressively seek out current innovations in pedagogy and teaching-learning technologies as well as those that are just showing on the horizon. A particularly exciting area of change and innovation is new media. CTE’s New Media Center is a resource where faculty and students receive support for their work with new media technologies. More important, it is intended to be a catalyst that will infuse appropriate new media applications throughout CTE and American University’s academic programs.

It is revealing that The Economist editors chose ‘A Survey of New Media’ as the subject of their most recent technology survey (in the April 22-28 number). Replacement of an ethic of passive receptivity with an ethic of active participation, made possible by a broad and rapidly expanding spectrum of information and media technologies, especially for young men and women under age 30, is its overarching theme. In an ‘on-line author interview,’ Economist technology correspondent Andreas Kluth writes, ‘In the participatory era, media will no longer be delivered one way from a media company to an audience...but by audience members to other audience members… It becomes a conversation among the people in the audience.’
Who are these ‘people in the audience?’ Among them are today’s and especially tomorrow’s AU students. ‘Last November, the Pew Internet and American Life Project, found that 57% of America’s teen agers create content for the internet – from text to pictures, music and video. Among the new media technologies described in the article are Web logs (blogs) such as Blogger and Live Journal, interactive networks such as Facebook and Myspace, online newspapers such as Ohmy News International, Podcasting (increasingly including video applications), participatory, interactive resources such as Wikkipedia (which is only one of many Wiki applications).

CTE intends to stay abreast of these new technologies, in close collaboration with faculty and students. My analogy for our role is the agricultural extension agent. CTE staff members will be AU’s new media extension agents, with a commitment to making these exciting technologies accessible to all: humanely, appropriately, and effectively. We welcome your ideas and your feedback.


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