Beyond text-only – do we get it?
It’s not surprising that many of today’s college faculty members equate scholarly communication with reading and writing text. A large number of us were educated at a time when other media were little more than a curiosity. For better or worse, however, the world has changed. The written word is still very important, but meaning is increasingly conveyed using images, video, and sound. That change applies not only to the research function of the university, but also to teaching and learning.
As if this shift away from text weren’t enough, we are simultaneously in the process of moving much of our production from physical analog media (paper, film, and vinyl) through digital media (like the CDs and DVDs above) to virtual digital delivery through services like Netflix, iTunes, and Amazon.
We should account for these changes and take advantage of them in our curricula and in our classrooms. The list below provides some indicators that a course embraces new forms of communication and expression. How many of the strategies apply to you?
- Students in one of my classes create concept maps
- I have played a YouTube video during class to illustrate a point
- I encourage students to include images in their essays
- My course website features an audio or video welcome message
- At least half of the slides in my last PowerPoint contain no text
- I recently played music in the classroom
- My most recent handout includes a photo
- One of my class assignments is to critique an infographic
- I have recorded voice comments in Word documents submitted by students
- One of my course projects is a multimedia digital story
- I know where to find images with a Creative Commons license
- One of the “textbooks” for my course is a full-length movie
There are many other ways to move beyond text-only. In the comments, feel free to share strategies we could add to the list.
[Image credit: "Gama de productos multimedia" by Apli Paper SA]