"New Media" and Public Education

Hans Rosling
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Hans Rosling's "200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes" is worth a few minutes of your time if you haven't seen it yet.

I've seen Hans Rosling's talks on TED: Ideas Worth Spreading and his work on Gapminder.org, which has a section for use by teachers. It's great to see these issues given more attention and made more accessible for secondary school classrooms. But the challenges of integrating "new media" for teachers are multiple and include a lack of access to technology in classrooms. Teachers also struggle to integrate any new content into what their schools, districts, and states expect them to teach. There is also a generation gap of teachers who are "digitally proficient" and those who are not; the digitally proficient, I suspect, remain quite a minority.

Those organizations (like my own) that produce digital material for use in a secondary school classroom confront some significant issues as well. I think the challenge is to produce content that does four critical things:

1.) It should meet high academic standards and teach skills critical to scholarly inquiry. For example, how can new media help students analyze primary and secondary sources?

2.) It should be something that teachers want to integrate in their curriculum. I.e., does it really help them teach what they need to teach?

3. It should be something that students will find engaging. Of course, student engagement has always been a challenge and will not be solved simply by adding technology or a flashy short video clip. 

4.) It is also essential that students be taught "media literacy" skills so that they can assess the value of these new media sources.

What did I miss? The Choices Program is continuing a process of adding web-based media to its curriculum resources; its own curriculum resources are evolving to include new media. How will curriculum be taught in five years, ten years?