Hard News by Russell Brown


Real Media

I spoke to a group of Media teachers at a development day at Unitech yesterday, and the subsequent conversation was quite interesting. These courses have flexible curricula (actually, according to Geoff Lealand no curricula), but they all teach secondary students basic screen production skills.

Yet none of them were teaching what ought to be a core skill in handling video these days: the optimum way of encoding clips to play on YouTube and similar services. In many cases that's because YouTube is dangerous ground for schools. Some of them just filter it at the gate.

It's the same with other social media; especially Bebo. And yet, when I had a wander through surrounding pages after Rory English's Bebo comments became a story, it struck me that this was a form of media that would be really useful to get kids to discuss. I got the impression that a lot of these kids were behaving as if they were in a private bubble, whereas they were actually on the public internet.

Same with blogs. Our kids start making PowerPoint presentations at intermediate level. But no one talks to them about a medium they're much more likely to actually use. It doesn't take a lot of skill to pimp your MySpace, but wouldn't working with WordPress be useful for Media students?

Even Wikipedia seems problematic. It's much easier to declare it unreliable than to impart some basic skills in assessing the merit of an article -- as the cornerstone of the vital modern ability to scrutinise information online -- and then how and when to edit. I think that's much more useful than faffing about with Second Life (yes, I probably do have a bias against Second Life).

As a result, I've promised to talk to some scholarship students about these things before the end of the school year. I'd also be interested to hear from teachers -- in the comments here, if possible -- about how they're approaching these issues.

Moving on, Nandor Tanzcos' most recent speech on the Copyright Amendment Bill is concise, clear and well worth reading.

And, as noted elsewhere, the New Zealand YouTube gateway opened yesterday afternoon. It's actually an improvement on what was on offer when I wrote about the launch of the YouTube regionalisation strategy in July -- they were going to fob us off with an Australasian site -- but I'd be interested to know how exactly the local content gets harvested and highlighted, because they seem to be missing quite a lot of it. I'm hopefully talking to a Google marketing chappy later today. I say hopefully, because press operations run out of Australia never seem to work very well. Certain companies need to learn this.

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