The Medium is the Message and the Message is the Medium

I really enjoyed this week’s interview with Rob Blair and hearing about his course Democratic Erosion. It is a brilliant idea to use a networked course structure with this particular course topic!

Hearing about this course reminded me of Marshall McLuhan’s idea that “the medium is the message.” Open learning is all about developing, interacting and learning within a network. McLuhan believed that the medium is more important than the message, however, I would say you can no longer separate the message from the medium. In today’s world, messages come in all different digital formats such as websites, blogs, Twitter, email and digitally born books and journals. These things are so intertwined with our lives that we are constantly both consuming and creating. Dr. Blair’s Democratic Erosion course is both medium and message, intertwined and indivisible. Technology has literally become part of how we live and interact

From a librarian’s point of view Blair and his colleagues have created a course that exemplifies the ACRL Framework idea of Information Creation as a Process. I also was excited to hear Dr. Blair as he discussed the posts as living documents that can be edited and updated as students developed their points of view on complicated topics. This reflects another ACRL Framework idea of Research as Inquiry. We want students to be curious and to challenge ideas, including their own, and become lifelong learners who participate in the democratic process. Scholarship is a conversation (yes, another Framework idea!) and this course exemplifies this idea, as well as celebrates many of the ideas of open learning.

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I am currently a research and user experience librarian at Virginia Wesleyan University in Virginia Beach.

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