Future is in multimedia learning

graduateIt is an undeniable fact that globalisation and the rapid emergence of the digital age have drastically transformed the educational landscape the world over in every aspect. The knowledge industry has witnessed a charming and magical face-lift in terms of the production, distribution and consumption of skills products.

At the centre of these developments is the deep-rooted quest for sustainable learning which recognises the convenience of embracing dynamic multimedia articulated learning platforms.
It is a fact that the contemporary digital revolution, weird and mesmerising as it may seem, is here to stay. Educational skeptics who initially thought that this phenomenon was just a hype which, with time, would dissipate have suddenly woken up to a rude awakening and found themselves outpaced by this reality.

Schooling without walls

Old learning systems have been outpaced by new and dynamic trends. The traditional concept of schooling inside the walls of brick and mortar has been superseded by the phenomenon of schooling without walls. Conventional learning set-ups have been overtaken by digital environments and the face-to-face mode of tuition delivery is fast being challenged and replaced by online articulated methods.

Paper environments have been eclipsed by green-friendly paperless platforms which are environment sensitive and hence sustainable in the long run. Straightjacket and rigid set-ups are fast giving way to flexible and creative e-habits of knowledge making and knowledge dispensing never seen before.

Digital revolution
The world has witnessed a massive showdown between physical infrastructure (where governments have poured massive funding thus making it difficult to let go) versus the ubiquitous multimedia learning formats and platforms, hard learning spaces versus soft learning spaces, tangible texts versus virtual texts, printouts versus cyber resources and pedagogics versus webagogics in the new knowledge ecosystem.

As educationists we have realised, these developments are as fast as they are stunning. We either have to shape up and embrace the phenomenon or ship out into our cocoons of cowardice. It is true that Africa was a lame duck when the historic Agriculture Revolution took place. Likewise when the Industrial Revolution took place Africa had no barley harvest to showcase or industrial charm to write home about.
It is painful to realise that despite the enormous unquestionable benefits that the digital revolution posits Africa is somewhat still caught up in mesmerasia and wonderment whilst other nations are busy wielding their sickles to a bumper barley harvest!

The lack of clarity in understanding which way the digital winds are blowing, coupled with the intransigent demon of technophobia dressed in jeans and jackets of skepticism and afro-pessimism has not done us any good. Whenever there is a dance we are quick to abstain because for us we are conditioned to think that every dance is a monkey dance. We are too smart to get entangled with monkey tails.
Academics, curriculum planners and even the wielders of the flag are collectively guilty of this habit.

We should instead realise that yesterdays mishaps should not jeopardise todays endeavors. In any case we are not the first or last to be at the receiving end when it comes to slings and arrows of outrageous historical misfortune!

Virtual platforms
Multimedia articulated learning platforms have effectively become the creative launch pads in to the vast and inexhaustible expanse of potential in the global village today.
Through these platforms some have become chiefs and without these platforms some have become mere spectators and commoners, scrounging for their bearings at the fringes of the global village.

These virtual platforms make information readily available for anybody in need of it in ways that make it easier to use, share, store, retrieve and access with ease by the click of a mouse. The world has become an information supper highway which requires digital literacy and webagogics.

Marshal McLuhan foresaw this phenomenon in the 1970s. Critics and skeptics dismissed him as overly ambitious and a futurist of the madness category. Today his pronouncements have become the cornerstone of the digital terrain. Virtual multimedia platforms such as e-libraries, e-journals, e-lectures among others have offered us compelling and unquestionable advantages in the production, surfing, distribution and utilisation of knowledge products.

For the first time in history the information highway has been overly and dynamically portable, easily retrievable and readily accessible with the magical click of a mouse.
In the past, researchers would torturously plough through mountains of archives as well as frighteningly shelved libraries.

As an academic foot solder who has summered and wintered in this knowledge industry I am convinced that the only way for Zimbabwe to extricate itself from the morass of digital illiteracy is through the adoption of the multimedia educational route.

Article first published by ZimOnline.

Mufaro Gunduza is a Professor of Business Ethics and Strategic Leadership. He has taught at Zimbabwe Open University, University of Zimbabwe, Walter Sisulu University and UNISA. He is currently developing and establishing multimedia articulated blended learning platforms at Mount Carmel University Without Walls. He can be contacted on [email protected]

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