Friday, February 13, 2015

Students speak out about Digital Media

There is one topic that can get students talking these days: digital media. It’s the primary form of communication for many, but don’t think that means that everyone in the younger generations accept digital media growth without question. Merritt McKinney and the Honors Program recently held a student discussion panel on the subject, organized and hosted by Shannon Lynch and Melissa Fox. It’s familiar ground for the two faculty members. They have taught Digital Media and Ethics classes.

They covered a number of topics in the panel.

Does living in a close-knit digital world of friends keep your opinions confined to their views?

“If you have a fairly diverse friends list you’re going to be exposed to many different opinions,” said Honey Rae Swan of Westmoreland.

“I see digital media as a tool for non-conformity,” said Michael Clark of Hendersonville. “You can investigate these niches and books, even though none of the people around you are interested in them.”

How about face-to-face communication versus texting?

“It’s a lot easier for me to communicate with someone via text message or email, because I can write it down and express myself better,” said student panelist Timothy McCall of Hendersonville.

Students in the audience wondered if digital communication could hurt people with social anxieties, by providing them with methods to avoid their fear.

Another issue was digital awareness. How well do students understand the digital world as it relates to reliable information and safety? None of the students on the panel or in the audience of about 50 students raised their hand to say that they had digital research or safety training in secondary school.

And finally, a subject near and dear to many faculty members: the use of digital-style English in writing.

“There’s going to be a time when our language is more technology based and what we speak now is the old English,” said McCall.

“There’s a difference between the way we speak and the way we write. We might circle back to symbols some day in how we write, but our speaking language may stay the same,” said Elena Cruth of Hendersonville.

Merritt McKinney was quick to chime in with a faculty perspective: “I think there is something to having a level of professionalism with your teacher,” he said.

When the audience was asked if the line between informality and professionalism is going away, most students nodded yes.

“It’s creating a new professionalism and the boundaries are being rewritten,” said Adam Parks of White House.

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