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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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Andrew Pass Educational Services, LLC July 11, 2006 - 4:31 pm

I agree with much of your post. When I blog I often have a difficult time spelling correctly and I haven’t quite figured out how to use spell checker on blogger. So I open up microsoft word and type the word. It sure is easier than using an old-fashioned dictionary. A question, why should teenagers be the guides on the side, instead of professional educators who have the skills to educate students on machines that have converged?

Andrew Pass

Vicki A. Davis July 11, 2006 - 5:36 pm

Perhaps I could have stated it more clearly. THe teachers should be the guide on the side and NOT the sage on the stage.

The students have the stage when technology converges.

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