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New Media: A Learning Tool

New media is known by a number of names. Some of the most common are digital
media, multimedia, digital art, integrated media, interactive media, transmedia, and art
and technology. Regardless of its name, its experts generally consist of animators,
multimedia producers, graphic designers, programmers, sound producers, video
producers, and storyboarders. (Huang 2009). In the earlier days of computing, processor
speeds, bandwidth issues, and computer availability kept new media from being an
effective learning tool due to extremely high costs.. Advances in technology such as low-
cost broadband networks and video compression tools have since made the deployment
of new media to large groups much more feasible.
What makes the media “new” is its delivery system. Where as traditional media
might sit on a bookshelf in article form, new media is often delivered electronically
(Hains, Belland, Conceicao-Runlee, Santos, & Rothenberg, 2000). Video training is
important not only as a tool for instruction, but also as a tool for observation. Pea,
Lindgren, and Rosen (2008) point out that, “Video has been dramatically under-utilized
as a 'cognitive technology' that permits one or more persons to develop their reasoning
and understanding of human interactions captured in video recordings and other time-
based media or artifacts involved in cultural practices” (p. 356). This is especially
important in the field of medicine, because patient care is often learned through the
observed behavior of others.
Clinicians, however, are not always available to observe behavior due to erratic and
rigorous schedules. Streaming media provides the ability to narrow the scheduling gap
and is now more commonly recognized due to websites like YouTube and Ustream, as
well as from content delivered by various news organizations. While it has become
common place in a number of households, it can also be very useful under the umbrella
of instructional technology. The Association for Educational Communications and
Technology (ACET) defines instructional technology as, “The theory and practice of
design, utilization, management and evaluation process and resources for learning”
(Seels & Richey, 1994, p. 1). Streaming media is often associated with asynchronous
learning, which is characterized by tools that do not require all participants to be present
at the same time. It is predominantly a one way communication tool that is effective
when participants in a learning environment are located in different geographical areas
(Sharma 2006).
As new technology becomes more prevalent in education, new arguments about
methodology can often follow suit. Edgar Huang (2005) refers to this as “Teaching
Button-Pushing versus Teaching Thinking.” Some educators feel that taking too much
time to teach software takes time away from teaching valuable ideas, concepts, and
critical thinking. The point that is often missed is that the teaching and learning of
software can add to the understanding of concepts, rather than take away from it.
Huang further argues that

“The antithesis between thinking skills and button-pushing – technological skills,


does not necessarily constitute a clear-cut dichotomy because, for instance, the
knowledge gained from software learning could help a student evaluate, choose,
and deploy software tools for a specific project context” (Huang, 2005, p. 236)

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The adoption of technology and the learning and teaching of software requires
administrators and educators in any industry to devote time to software instruction.
Research has shown that the scales are not yet even in this regard. When asked to list
the qualities that a new media graduate should demonstrate to their employers, new
media faculty members in various universities across the country offered the following
answers (Huang 2008): Thinking Skills - 46% A Balance Between Technological Skills and
Thinking Skills - 32% A Sheer Grasp of Technological Skills As Adequate for Employment
- 17.4% Don't Know – 3.9% This evidence suggests that even in the field in which new
media is taught, more weight is placed on thinking skills than the technological skills
needed to create the media itself. This poses a problem in the field of health care, as
educators focus solely on information that pertains to patient care without taking into
consideration the new technology methods of disseminating the information to
employees.

The Need for New Media: Development in Healthcare

“When an Organization takes on a task, the difficulty of coordinating everyone


needs to be reined in somehow, and the larger the group, the more urgent the need”
(Shirky, 2008, p. 43).As a member of a health care organization that currently employs
over 22,000 employees in multiple states, the timely distribution of information and
training material is critical. Corporate communication has been changed drastically by
unprecedented changes in technology. Communication and learning has become “less
static and more dynamic” (Argenti, 2006, p. 358)
Distance learning is often the most effective means of transmission. Distance
education can be improved upon through the use of rich-media that can be updated and
replaced in response to learners' questions and insights (Vasu & Ozturk 2008). Rich
media can also be more interactive and appealing to learners. When learners are made to
be active participants, a well-designed distance education experience will allow them to
be more engaged in the content (Clark 2002). According to Wilkerson and Irby,

“Increasing demands are being placed upon medical school faculty members to be
creative and effective teachers, successful investigators, and productive
clinicians. These pressures derive from curriculum reform, from competition in
the health care marketplace, and from increasing competition for scarcer
resources to support research. Such changes require faculty members to
acquire new knowledge, skills, and abilities – especially in the instructional
arena.” (Wilkerson and Kirby, 1998, p. 387)

However, marketplace competition is not the only pressuring factor for the
adoption of learning technologies in health care. Online video instruction and technology
can also improve patient safety. Video allows for the observation of equipment set up in
order to establish best practices. Furthermore, videoconferencing allows for a surgeon to
call a colleague about a difficult case without the need for he/she to be physically in the
operating room (Xiao , Schimpf, Mackenzie, Merrell, Entin, Voigt, & Jarrell, 2007). In my
organization, we are attempting to use streaming media to train employees as well as
disseminate information regarding our “Mission, Vision, and Values.” This includes the
teaching of standardized best practices between our hospitals and private practices. Two

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projects at the University of Maryland showed that short video clips can overcome the
barriers of best practices (Mackenzie et al, 2002). The downside, as Xiao et al (2007) go
on to explain, is that despite the technology and integration capability, full-event capture
is not yet a standard component of the operating room.
Another major factor to consider when deploying online media in health care is
HIPAA. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 has established
national standards for the transfer of electronic health data for what is considered
protected health information, or PHI (HIPAA, 1996) According to Argenti (2005), the
advent of social networking, blogs, email, and other sites have given all employees the
ability to be communication managers. This has the potential to pose a problem for
organizations concerned with PHI because it increases the chances of patient names or
other health information becoming public. One of the ways to protect information
internally is through the use of an intranet. An intranet is a private internet that provides
confidentiality as it can only be accessed by authorized users (Zarotsky & Jaresko, 2000).
Streaming media transmitted by way of an intranet can insure the safe transmission of
patient information while still providing the aforementioned benefits of video training.

Adapting to Change: Technology and Adult Learning

Learning theorist Seymour Papert states that, “The major obstacle in the way of
teachers becoming learners is inhibition about learning” (Papert, 1992, p. 72). I believe
this to be especially true in corporate education. Learners are generally comprised of
department leaders who vary in age and experience. The older and more experienced
learners tend to shy away from the use of new technology for fear of appearing inferior in
the presence of subordinates. The corporate hierarchy can hinder the progress of
technology integration. Anita Rosen (2009) states that management and employees
often, “deny that they need to modify how they do business and adopt a new or
emerging trend in technology,” (p. 29) and as Nicholas Negroponte points out, adult
learners often forget that they once turned to children to program their VCRs or set their
digital clocks. (Papert, 1996) These inhibitions are not uncommon when encountering a
new experience.
John Dewey theorized that the quality of an experience has two aspects. The first
aspect is whether or not the experience was agreeable or disagreeable, and the second
involves the influence of that experience on later experiences (Dewey, 1938). If we
believe that to be true, it is quite possible that the same adult learners who had trouble
programming their VCR are the ones being apprehensive about technological advances in
the workplace.
How can we fix this? Utilizing the drive of corporate educators and taking into
consideration a simple definition of constructivism as “learning by making,” we can
engage educators through creative ways of content creation and interactivity (Papert,
1991). Joyce and Showers (1995) point out that, “The closer the innovation is to the
interactive process that helps the learner manage learning better, the greater the effects
will be.” If Dewey (1938) is correct in his theory that all genuine education comes from
experience, it is important for adult educators to see how technology relates to them in
their work environments, both past and present. If one is to promote not only literacy,
but fluency in technology, educators must create a context that will help adult learners
realize and appreciate the value of technology in their workplace education. For example,
research has shown that a class on “Using the Web,” which included a large sample group

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of educators, produced little results in terms of adopting technology in the classroom
(Shelly 2000). The broad scope of such learning provides little direction in terms of
action. The needs and goals of each individual learner should be discussed, in order to
integrate a more focused technology plan. As Shelley later explains, “The 'independent'
aspect would not necessarily connote 'teaching yourself,' rather, independent training
would indicate personalized endeavors in a climate of support” (Shelley, 2000, p. 67)

Conclusion

New media technology is helping to improve upon and shape the world around us.
Furthermore, advances in technology and new delivery capabilities have drastically
changed corporate education, training, and communication. With these new found
capabilities comes a need to train fluent users in order to create content and facilitate
learning in new environments. The need for streaming media technology and training in
health care has been established, and it is now time to switch the focus to the education
and training of users for those technologies. The learning theories of Papert and Dewey
have taught us that corporate educators can bring about new uses and applications of
technology based on the learners' past experiences in critical thinking. It is important to
blend the experience of educators with the technical skills required to operate new media
hardware and software. By making better use of technology, these experienced educators
can help advance the field of corporate education, as well as find new and exciting uses
for existing media technology.
This literature review is written in conjunction with my action research project,
which focuses on the use of streaming media instruction in health care organizations. As
a technology educator in health care, I often find that department leaders show
apprehension when confronted by new media tools, and are hesitant to incorporate them
into their instruction. What I wish to establish in this review of literature is a clear
definition of new media as it pertains to instructional design and corporate
communication. By doing so, it will allow me to further investigate the growing need for
instructional technology in health care, and explore methods of teaching technology to
adult learners who may be ambivalent or uncertain about its use.

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