Our responsibility

So, like the WordPress junkie I am, I’ve been trying to recruit other Keene Staters here into my fold. Trying to get me some co-bloggers.

And so it was I broke the will of one Jenny Darrow, who leads and implements much of the Academic IT initiatives over here.

Her first posts are up and the third one is music to my ears. Here’s the thumbnail sketch:

The point is that we (anyone over the age of 35) assume that students don’t need support with any kind of technology, that somehow by some miracle they know how to configure their bluetooth access, create a blog, subscribe to syndicated content, create digital presentations, etc. It’s not a wrong assumption — it’s just not entirely accurate.

Agreed. I’ve often railed against the mindset that turns higher education’s abdication of responsibility in this regard into a “blinking VCR clock” joke. Students come to us with certain skills. They always have. Our job is to take those skills and help them refine and focus them. And if we lack the institutional capability to do that — well, it’s really not that funny.

We assume that because kids are blogging, they are blogging effectively. That these are binary skills, stuck either in the on or off position. But it’s not that simple.

But then Jenny goes further, because she goes to the 2007 Horizon Report and pulls the money quote from it:

Although new tools make it increasingly easy to produce multimedia works, students lack essential skills in composition, storytelling, and design. In addition, faculty need curricula that adapt to the pace of change and that teach the skills that will be needed—even though it is not clear what all those skills may be.

This is exactly right. And if we are going to teach them how to tell stories in this new media landscape, we are going to have to see new media as more than a bolt-on to existing courses, and certainly as more than a specialization within a major. We are going to have to see new media as a set of dialects in which all graduates must be fluent.

And if that means we have to set our VCR clock in the process, so be it.

Oh, and fellow rebels, go give Jenny some newbie love. For or against, it doesn’t matter…just enough feedback to nurse that blogging addiction….

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