Missing The Medium For The Message

In our previous article, ‘Making the Most of Online Learning’, we suggested that most online universities are failing their students by giving insufficient attention to the skills required by this new learning environment. This neglect is not surprising. We all think we know how to process information from the internet. We think learning online is fairly straight-forward and we don’t realize that it requires certain additional study skills to those required in a normal classroom environment. As communication theorist Marshall McLuhan helped us to understand in the middle of last century, whenever a new medium comes into general use, most people get so caught up with the content coming through the medium that they sometimes fail to give adequate attention to the demands of the form or medium. People talk about missing the wood for the trees, but McLuhan helped us to understand that we also have a tendency to miss the medium for the message. We can become so focused on the message being conveyed by the new medium, that we fail to consider the new demands that the medium is making of us, and how the content must be subtly repackaged to fit the medium. McLuhan didn’t live long enough to experience the internet, though he did predict it. However, if his principles are applied to online learning, it means that specific skills are required to maximize the benefits of the internet and to minimize any potential drawbacks. The next blog post will begin laying a foundation for our discussion of study skills by exploring some recent discoveries about how the brain works. We will then go on and apply these discoveries specifically to your experience in EPPP preparation and EPPP exam prep.

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