Challenges to media advocacy

By Susannah Diamond and Andrew Middleton, Academic Innovation

Media in their hands: Over the last five years digital media has become easy to produce using everyday gadgets and software, and is easy to share through YouTube and similar sites – in the outside world at least. Staff and students at Sheffield Hallam and beyond, as ‘user-generators’ of media, are demonstrating the benefits that media-enhanced approaches can bring to teaching and learning.  Audio feedback and student podcast assignments are two of many techniques being used here.

Intervention required: However, our ongoing work in this area leads us to believe that universities and colleges are struggling to make the most of the opportunity because their infrastructures still present too many barriers to most staff and students.  The problem is that in comparison to the days when academics were dependent upon specialist production units, user-generation of media places quite different demands on the institution. For example, technologies inside university for user-generation of media should be as click-and-play as the tools that many now experience at home when they are not studying. Institution-wide support for user-generated, media-enhanced approaches to learning needs to be underpinned by a wide range of organisational, technological, and cultural elements, and the opportunities and associated requirements need to be understood by all the people responsible for these elements. Otherwise the danger is that investment in obsolete approaches or services may continue.

Challenged:  Having identified the issues, our next step is to become advocates for change – both in our internal strategic roles, and externally across the sector.  We have been working together on the topic of ‘Media Infrastructures’ for some time, consulting others in the HE sector, and writing and presenting on the topic.  As a result of a workshop at Alt-C 2009, we were recently asked to run something similar at a JISC regional event.  This seemed like a good opportunity to push our ideas forward, particularly as we’d been set a challenge to create a tool that could make the issues explicit for senior management across the sector after leadership and co-ordination was identified as an important stumbling block at a meeting of the Podcasting for Pedagogic Purposes Special Interest Group at the University of Leicester last year.

A cartoon about the difficulties of sharing media within the university.

Outcomes: In the process of preparing for the workshop we tried to find a good way of communicating the challenge facing institutions using various visualisation techniques including diagrams, a grid-based matrix, and even a cartoon. We concluded that face to face conversations are the most useful way to communicate the issues, but that a briefing doc and an evaluation tool could be used by others to assess their own institutional context and press for change.  The workshop (see presentation) was a waymarker in producing this briefing doc, and provided positive feedback on its usefulness as an effective communication tool on which to base further work.

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One response to “Challenges to media advocacy

  1. There is obviously a lot more to figure out about this issue, but you made some really good points. I will definitely be checking here more often. Thank you.

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