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Media for learning


I’ve had the pleasure of working with Head teachers, Principals and education officers in the West Bank this week as part of my work with Karen Ardley for UNRWA.

We talked about the relative strengths and weaknesses of the media available to us for the leadership development programme we’re putting together.  Some of the points are (inevitably) similar to my thoughts on multiplatform formats.

Achieving the right blend is important for a number of reasons:

  • Fitness for purpose

Maximising the capabilities of media: Recognising that human experiences might be best communicated through video, while complex theoretical ideas lend themselves to print.

  • Accommodating learning preferences

Understanding that our attitudes towards learning are different and that providing ‘something for everyone’ is more likely to engage our audience across the piece.

  • Reinforcement

Offering multiple perspectives and varied experiences of the same point helps learners absorb, remember and contextualise information and ideas.

  • Texture

The programme will take many hours to complete and the issues are complex and challenging, a varied blend helps to create ‘texture’ in the experience.  This texture helps maintain interest and motivation.

It was a fascinating discussion; I’ve summarised the ideas below.

Strengths Weaknesses Good for
Face to face
  • Persuasive
  • Easy, natural
  • Emotional, nuanced
  • Reliable
  • Maximize social ties
  • Uses environment
  • Immediate
  • Flexible
  • Responsive
  • Physical tasks


  • Most eloquent/ loudest voice can dominate
  • Time consuming
  • Requires travel
  • Can be misleading
  • Expensive to facilitate
  • Discussion
  • Collaboration
  • Evaluation
  • Idea generation
Strengths Weaknesses Good for
  • Available any time
  • Portable
  • Valuable throughout history
  • Easy to manage and use
  • Universally achievable
  • ‘Warm’
  • “The friend that is never bored of you”
  • Explains complexity/ big ideas


  • Selfish
  • Boring, long winded
  • More time to search
  • Expensive
  • Physically heavy


  • Knowledge
  • Information
  • Reflection
  • Detailed arguments & theory
Strengths Weaknesses Good for
Rich media
  • Repeatable
  • Multi-sensory/ multimedia
  • Audio does not demand all you attention
  • Can be copied/ distributed
  • Records experiences from another time or place


  • Can’t get explanation from source
  • Devices need energy
  • One way communication
  • No personal communication
  • Case studies
  • Insight
  • Dramatization
Strengths Weaknesses Good for
  • Variety of knowledge
  • “Smile You’re Online!”
  • Communicating over distance
  • Not expensive (once set up)
  • Available for anyone, anytime, anywhere
  • Easy to distribute
  • Anyone can read, write, copy
  • Work with many at one time
  • Offers levels of detail
  • Easy to search


  • Not always accurate/ trustworthy
  • Waste of time sometimes
  • Loss of humanity
  • Control/ censorship
  • Technology problems
  • Diminishing of social relationships
  • Easy to be distracted
  • Connections
  • Information
  • Just-in-time needs
  • Simulations & models
  • Practise
  • Confidence-building

We recognised that such an activity is fraught with ambiguity.  It is hard to disentangle the medium from the means.  Likewise some characteristics are dependent on use context.  Still, it provided a useful catalyst for the group as we considered the most effective way of distributing content across media.

What do you think?

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