Wednesday, 9 November 2016

The Medium is the Message

I forgot about the phrase, The Medium is the Message, having last heard it in university. At the time we were discussing two things, on two separate occasions:

* In a political journalism class we were discussing the upcoming Internet popularity as a medium for discourse (yes, I was in university that long ago); and,

* In human rights training learning how voice, body language, and entitlement shaped by privilege changes what we convey based on how we say things and to whom we say them.

Marshal McLuhan coined the term in reference to the way the medium of communication, rather than the actual thing communicated, changes the message to shape the future and progress of human kind.

"Each medium, independent of the content it mediates, has its own intrinsic effects which are its unique message," he said. "The message of any medium or technology is the change of scale or pace pr pattern that in introduces to human affairs."

But McLuhan suggested wider parameters than media discourse or my class. With this phrase he asked that we observe and be mindful of the ways we extend the scale of our reach by way of the medium we choose, and how the medium and resulting scale changes who we are as individuals.

"It really means a hidden environment of services created by an innovation, and the hidden environment of services is the thing that changes people," he said. "It is the environment that changes people, not the technology."

So what does this have to do with adult eduction? So much. 

At a very basic level, it means we should be mindful of how we communicate so as to be accurate and meaningful with our messages, who they reach, and how. 

It also means we have the power to affect and influence, and to forge new pathways in how our students meet, understand, change, submit to, and conquer the world around them. 

In a practical sense, it means we can reach different people with different mediums, and challenge students to work through moments if incongruence as they try learning through mediums outside their comfort zones. 

Here is an Open Education course on using language as a medium for learning >> Moving from theory to practice can be tricky and this course covers the role of language in doing just that. 

There are many, many places to view and listen to ideas about media in teaching and learning, and in many ways the more specific the search, the more honed the solutions you find will be. However, there are a few examples that can work in many places, so take a peek >>

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