Teaching 101 = Web 2.0

I am trying to change things but change happens slowly. As a lecturer, I view essay writing as a crucial skill for all university students. Essay writing is not just about the ability to communicate in writing: it is an exercise in thinking.

But is essay writing the main skill students need in the Brave New Media World? I think not.

Things are changing quickly. In the US, the public sector will be employing New Media directors to use Net applications to improve transparency. Broadband applications are being used to enhance medical services in rural areas. Twitter is being used to monitor water levels for plants and to help people get jobs. Uses for New Media technologies are 'virtually' endless.

In the New Media era, it is time for universities to re-think some of the traditional ways of assessing students. Essays will not go away; nor should they. But New Media skills have to come from somewhere. In Australia this is, for the most part, being left up to private individuals who are taking the initiative.

So-called digital natives are not as digitally-minded as the popular press would have us believe. Universities have a clear role to play, and not just in the IT disciplines. Many lecturers would agree, but it is left to New Media pioneers to take the risks to bring about change. This situation is far from satisfactory.

Next year, I intend to submit a proposal to develop a new subject in New Media politics. This will require students to prepare blogs, organise group work using social networking tools and so on. The challenge will be to ensure that organisational policies can keep up with the developments - a microcosm of national policy which is facing the same issues contemporarily.

The bottom line is that the business of teaching is changing rapidly. In the New Media era, Teaching 101 = Web 2.0.