Beyond the Textbooks: Education and the Use of Digital Media
The rise in the use of digital media has been shown to have impacted various aspects in society. The increasing speed and scope of the spread of ideas as a result of the proliferation of the use of digital means is generally perceived as a beneficial result of the phenomenon. Khan Academy. RSA Animate. TED. All three of these have utilized digital media to spread ideas and promote education beyond printed means in their respective way.Khan Academy’s subject-specific lessons allow individuals to learn concepts in various areas at their own pace, and RSA Animate utilizes videos to provide animated visuals of often abstract concepts. The final of the three in focus, TED, creates an outlet for thinkers to share their ideas through the TED Talks, and TEDEd lessons.
Despite the noticeable differences in the way each organization has advantaged from digital media in promoting their mission, all three of these outlets have demonstrated that the accessibility of education and spread of ideas are proliferated through the form of video with the assistance of the internet. Rather than having a formal approach towards education and the attainment of knowledge, these outlets are supporting informal means that are more fluid and dependent upon the individual’s choice and interests. The meaning of education, and the way in which it is attained, is being revolutionized through digital media.
Originally uploaded strictly as YouTube videos, Khan Academy was a library of lessons on concepts in various subject areas, including those focused on math and science. Since it’s inception, the ‘academy’ has grown to be a site with a mission to “provide a world-class education for anyone, anywhere”. The founder of Khan Academy, Salman Khan, was recognized on TIME’s The World’s 100 Most Influential People in 2012 and described as an “educator”. The site covers a wide-range of subject areas, such as math, science, economics, arts and art history, computer programming, history, as well as test prep sections. Practice exercises are offered along with the instructional videos and a personalized dashboard for individuals to keep track of their progress. Khan Academy also partners with various institutions such as NASA, the Museum of Modern Art, and the like to ensure the accuracy of information being relayed and to provide special
RSA Animate is a series started in 2010 by the British non-profit in its aim to provide an “innovative, accessible and unique way of illustrating and sharing the world-changing ideas” that have been promulgated via the organizations various public lectures and programs. Videos range from about 9 to 12 minutes, with a voice-over accompanied by images drawn on a whiteboard. Though currently having only 19 videos, RSA Animate has had over millions of views on YouTube.It’s storytelling method accompanied by drawing and animation has made it a unique outlet for innovative thinking. The animations are created by Cognitive Media, an animation firm that consists of visual storytellers who collaborate with their clients (including RSA and TED) to create an innovative and fresh representation of new ideas.
TED Talk videos present ideas ranging in subject and content within the span of 18 minutes or less. These videos are recorded from various TED-related conferences throughout the world, including TEDGlobal, and TEDx, and other TED programs. Each video is accompanied by an interactive time-coded transcript available for viewers who prefer both text and visuals combined.
TEDEd is the newest of the TED initiatives, aiming to amplify lessons taught by educators beyond the classroom in a format that bring the lessons to life with the help of animators and visual artists. TEDEd also provides a more participatory role in the lessons by allowing visitors to create their own lessons to any educational video on YouTube. Lessons are followed by a number of multiple choice questions, and external resources for individuals to refer to should they want to dig deeper into the topic. Additionally, both guided and open discussion questions exist for those who are interested in gaining the perspectives of the community.
Success in the use of such methods within the classroom are yet to be confirmed, though some have seen these videos as supplementary to what is taught in the classroom. Nonetheless, the works of Khan Academy, RSA Animate, and TED all demonstrate how digital media has the potential of revolutionizing the future of education and the sharing of ideas. The informal approaches to education offered in these outlets reach a different market and provides accessibility for education in a way that has been gaining traction over the years.