I’ve been asked to run a digital marketing course at the University of Malta. I have to build the course in a modular way, using a set text book. As academic books go, it’s solid content, with case studies, hundreds of hyperlinks to sites and QR code tags at the end of every chapter for ‘latest updates’ and ‘tips for supervisors and students’. There are suggestions for assignments, numerous definitions, tables and diagrams. The student in me is impressed. The instructor part is trying to flip the book around, jump pages, batter the book into some sort of personal usability. Suddenly, I’m missing Flipboard.
The video I embedded was made by Ideo over 2 years ago. Yet it’s only recently that the education sector is visibly making a sustained effort to update the traditional teacher-student, instruction-manual dichotomy. There are clusters of educators that are slowly converging to explore digital literacy, curate social media lists and think through the disruptive changes that the social web and economic climate are unleashing on traditional education: Edudemic is a particularly useful snapshot of educators grappling with anything from MOOCs (free or paid, like Boundless) to design thinking.
In the meantime, over the next months, I need to straddle the gap between the 700 pages of the book I have to ‘teach’ and the affordances of the digital tools that it purports to unravel and master. Before my students can start to think of ‘digital’ as ‘marketing’ and hence ‘boxed’ as an ‘MBA marketing module’, my job is to first help them understand that the media that appears to be so ‘safe’, authoritative and informed is in imminent danger of being disenfranchised – including the very book that they will have been encouraged to purchase.
No less urgent is the need to update the traditional teacher-student relationship into a more realistic one of co-learners. Since the knowledge in the 700-page book is subject to the challenge of pragmatists and smart mobs the moment it has left the printing press.
Photo: David Flores