Emerging Media and Communication at UT Dallas

A new program in Emerging Media and Communication at UT Dallas looks very interesting.

The Emerging Media and Communication degree prepares the “communicators of the twenty-first century.” These new communicators will combine technological expertise with effective communication skills across a wide range of media, developing “new media literacy” in response to the digital revolution that has radically changed all aspects of human communication.

There are both undergrad and graduate majors within the program.

This syllabus from the an Introduction for Emerging Media course in the program seems much like one I’d like to create for teachers and instructional designers at the graduate level. Teachers and instructional designers are being increasingly being expected to understand the Internet and become content managers and publishers of new media. They are very rarely given any instruction about the Internet and how it functions. They occasionally get training or classes on LMSs like Moodle and Blackboard, but what they really need is a clear understanding of the entire medium, that Moodle and Blackboard are but a tiny bastardization of. The Internet is to today as the Gutenberg Press was to the middle ages… a marked shift in communications where society must change to accommodate this new method of communication.

David Parry, one of the professors in program wrote this piece on his blog talking about getting the class off the ground this year, which is worth a read. He notes,

[…]we are educating our students for a world that no longer exists instead of educating them for the world they will inherit. This strikes me as irresponsible.

A similar problem exists, as I see it, at the graduate level for teachers and instructional designers. They can take courses where they make a course in Moodle or an activity in Flash, but those are tools used today (mostly poorly)… by the time they get jobs in the field, the tech will have changed. Plus, so many of these courses use proprietary software, which, once it falls out of favor, those creation skills are almost useless, unless you have the underlying theory and literacies for the digital landscape of the Internet. They need to know what types tools are good for what tasks, and learn to make those types of critical analyses for themselves, so in a year or two when they have to decide how or why to deploy something, they’ll know how to make those choices.