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Digital media – a collaborative approach

The revolution is encapsulated not so much in the hardware, but in what the easy availability and dissemination of digital media means. For one thing it completely changes the means of distribution. No longer is the distribution of TV in the hands of the broadcasters, anyone can make TV and deliver it via IPTV or broadband. No longer is the distribution of anything, from films to books, the exclusive domain of the traditional distributors. As long as it is digital anyone can distribute it. The Arctic Monkeys are, of course, a case in point where they sidetracked traditional means of promotion in favour of the viral route. This is revolutionary.

Another critical effect of digitisation is the opportunity for interaction. Analogue switch off means that virtually every household in the land will have a box sitting in their front rooms capable of interactivity (2 way communication) and capable of interconnecting with other devices in the home and elsewhere. This is revolutionary, and actually has been a long time coming.

All of this changes people’s habits, changes people’s lives, and no more so than in the world of education. In the world of learning it changes control from teacher to student, it changes the teacher’s role from deliverer to enabler, it shifts the learning landscape outside the classroom, onto the streets 24/7, into peoples homes. It enables the establishment of learning environments that are integrated into people’s lives and available on demand.

The detail of what this all means will become apparent over time (all the pundits agree that we are in a period of change, shifting sands that will settle down over time). Already the cracks are showing. The social networking phenomenon, encapsulated by Facebook and Myspace, is experiencing a decrease in popularity as people begin to express concerns over privacy and start to reclaim their real lives. Similarly with Second Life whose ‘open to all’ philosophy attracts not just the good, but the bad and the ugly as well.

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