Educate: Journalism and Teaching Technologies

    by Benjamin Melançon
    October 23, 2007

    Many who spoke at the Online News Association conference in Toronto defined education (of the public) as an important part of journalists’ work. Most of us clearly do not feel the need to fulfill Toronto-raised Mary Harris “Mother” Jones‘ injunction to educate, agitate, organize (and not doing so is a disservice news organizations do to themselves and to society, I will argue later), but what would taking seriously the responsibility to educate, by itself, mean for news?

    The related content to which this connects is an online video recommended at the conference by Jeff Young (of the Chronicle for Higher Education). The video, by Michael Wesch and his students at Kansas State University, suggests to me that defining journalism’s role in the 21st century as having an education component will necessarily tie it to new teaching technologies.

    And that we need teaching/journalism technologies that reflect an interconnected, horizontal world. A world where the issue is as much organizing information as obtaining it. Michael Oreskes touched on this in his keynote at the conference, saying, in effect, that editors will be more important than ever. The video below poses the question – far better than I can – of how meaningful education relates to technology:


    Tagged: educate Mary Harris ona Wesch

    2 responses to “Educate: Journalism and Teaching Technologies”

    1. Hi Ben. Alongside incorporating these digital technologies into curricula (which I agree is crucial for classrooms of today), teachers should also have a clear understanding of principles of fair use and copyright, so that the teaching of using these technologies to their fullest to create new content is not compromised by unnecessary restrictions. Teachers are a vital group of people who need fair use and also need to wield it responsibly in order not to destroy their own creative efforts as creators of books, videos, and other curriculum materials, as well as that of their students. The Center for Social Media has has led a project to understand fair use problems in the teaching community, which can be found here, to help increase educators’ awareness of fair use and its importance to good teaching.

    2. Thanks for commenting, Bree.

      I agree that understanding and properly using copyright and fair use is important, and I keep the Center for Social Media’s resources in my toolkit. Moreover, I greatly value the work done to make the facts of what is permissible well-known. Clarity of the law is essential to prevent obscurity and uncertainty from being used as a bludgeon by people with lawyers on tap.

      We need more though!

      The only justifiable reason for restrictions on use of ideas and sharing of information is to reward creators, or, from the public’s point of view, to encourage innovation of public use or interest. But is infringing the freedom to share and use something that is infinitely replicable – concepts, ideas, data, digital information – even a good way to do this? Most of the benefit from enforcing these restrictions with an expensive, intrusive government and legal system goes not to creators but to non-creating owners. And the true cost of this unnatural system is even higher.

      All culture, science, and politics is built on what came before. The harm to the public of innovation cut off by patents, trade secrets, trademarks, and copyright may not be necessary.

      Open source free software provides a model of developing and building our common intellectual good counter to the vast apparatus of laws and government intervention required to force people to treat information as property.

      Free software (free as in freedom) does not provide an adequate funding model for innovation, although many people (such as myself with colleagues in the Agaric Design Collective) make a living working with and contributing to free software.

      What if we as society or people working in groups rewarded valued innovation directly, and dropped all the restrictions we use to try to make information another form of property, which it is not?

      A lot of human progress, justice, and liberty rides on replacing our broken system for encouraging innovation with one that does so more efficiently, more successfully, and without infringing on fundamental human rights.

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