Educating for digital futures

Bridgstock, R. (2016). Educating for digital futures: what the learning strategies of digital media professionals can teach higher education. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 53(3), 306-315. doi:10.1080

This article explores the learning strategies used by professionals in the digital media field and then proposes new directives for digital media curriculum in higher education. After conducting in-depth interviews with “eight successful Australian digital media professionals working in micro-businesses” (p. 307), Bridgstock described the learning environments of the interviewees. They consider the fast-changing face of technology both a blessing a curse, admitting that they do not have time themselves to keep up with the needed learning. They prefer to hire college graduates—even though they believe the curriculum is lacking—because people who finish a degree are committed to the field (and others change jobs too often). These professionals learn much of what they need in the quickly-changing market by taking non-accredited courses on, for example (because the content is up-to-date), by social learning in a “community of practice” (p. 310), and through Twitter and Google plus. “Self-motivation and curiosity, and an immediate sense of task relevance underpinned the interviewees’ professional learning processes” (p. 311). Pre-packaged curricula (common in higher education) that takes three years to modify simply does not meet the needs of a career in digital media. Students in the university may “have difficulty transferring what they have learned in a decontextualized classroom situation to a contextualized, authentic one when they eventually encounter one” (p. 312). Instead, universities need to integrate authentic learning into more than just a capstone class. “They must become ‘meta-universities’—overarching, accessible, empowering, dynamic, global, communally constructed frameworks of open materials and online platforms….[These universities] will be the most successful in the learning and teaching sphere” (p. 314).

Bridgstone (2016) has summarized valuable feedback from successful practitioners in the field of digital media. In her clearly written descriptions, she has outlined several vital areas of need and concern for those universities striving to be cutting edge in the area of training digital media experts. Even if universities choose to ignore her work, the needs will remain and graduates will be left to find their way to the “community of practice” on Twitter or Google plus.

I am thinking to study how digital media (and training in all media opportunities) can play a larger role in the training of pre-service teachers. This article instructs me to consider the possible curriculum modifications our institution ought to analyze. Hopefully, it will not take three years to instigate!

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