The importance of multimedia training

In yesterday's piece, Chris Dawson asks Why don’t kids use email?  It's a good question but not because it is all that profound.
Written by Marc Wagner, Contributor on
Marc Wagner
In yesterday's piece, Chris Dawson asks Why don’t kids use email?  It's a good question but not because it is all that profound.  High School kids (the one's to whom Chris refers) use whatever tools are available to them which are beyond the scrutiny of their parents and their teachers.  Surprise, surprise!  It is a good question though because it points to something that is lacking in our schools today -- training in the proper use of multimedia.  Such training is lacking for educators and administrators as well as for our students.

When I was a kid, the primary source of information was books and thus the local public library is where teachers encouraged their students to go for information.  Training took the form of a field trip to the local public library, with a fifteen minute lesson on how to use a card catalog and a quick explanation of the Dewey Decimal System.  For most of us, it was little more than a chance to get out of class for the afternoon! 

Most schools had a small in-house library but the public library had everything you needed to know about anything.  Assignments were written in pencil (by fourth grade, in pen) on lined paper.  By high school, students were encouraged to take typing -- still, words on paper.  The term audio-visual meant movies, film-strips, and slides, along with tape recordings and vinyl records.  And, of course, there was the media -- referring to newspapers, radio, and TV.  That was it! 

Most or our students have never seen a vinyl record, let alone listened to one, and the once-familiar card catalog is all but gone from the public library.  Even the term audio-visual is a thing of the past.  Today, everything is multimedia and yet, I am not sure that most of us could provide a decent definition of that term -- let alone use multimedia effectively. 

Put simply, media is plural for medium (Merriam-Webster: a means of effecting or conveying something) and multi- suggests multiple ways of conveying information.  Simple enough.  An example is that AT&T commercial which has been running lately, with a ball game on the viewer's TV, computer, and cell phone all at the same time so that, as they go about their daily lives, they don't have to miss a minute of that game.  (Of course, each of those services comes with a fee and a contract -- the real reason AT&T wants you to partake.) 

Anyway, Chris's article points to the fact that students will only begrudgingly get an e-mail account to turn in assignments if that is required of them and Chris poses the question of how these students will function in the workforce if they refuse to use the tools of the workforce now.   

Multimedia as part of the curriculum ...

The event horizon for the typical high school student is measured in when the assignment is due and whether that will leave enough time for the next social gathering?    If our schools don't teach students how to use each available medium effectively, they cannot be effective in the application of those tools to the tasks they will encounter in a modern world.  They will not be ready for college -- where the social pressures are even greater and where the institution expects the student to meet the school's expectations without prodding.  This means using the tools the college or university provides.  This also means being expected to follow a code of ethics as it pertains to using those tools.  It's time for multimedia training to be a part of every school curriculum. 

Don't agree with me?  Tell me why.

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