I hate to admit it but I don’t follow politics all that much anymore. Mostly because I typically disagree with what they are doing. But today I got an email that made me happy. I just received an email newsletter from my local representative. In it he included a survey of what was of importance to us, his constituents. I was really happy to see the top few questions included the farm bill and bringing broadband into rural America. I am in favor of broadband in rural America. My drive to do research on new media has always been fueled by the rural-urban digital divide. I constantly remind my students that there are areas in the world still without phones, let alone computers. I have always been worried that we as ag communicators are jumping online, but many of our readers/listeners aren’t able to join us. I am glad the government and other groups (check out what OSU is doing at http://digitalunion.osu.edu/showcase/vinton/) are reaching out to rural America with access to the technology that drives our world.
There is a lot of buzz in academia on the use of podcasts to reach our students on their turf. The old adage “If you build it they will come.” But will they? I know several colleagues around the country who are using them to show class lectures, to post information videos on youtube, and to reach new audiences. While I agree we need to be adopting these new technologies and advancing our teaching into realms that excite and engage today’s student, I also wonder if we are. I am working on analyzing some data I just finished collecting with friends at four institutions. From my initial glances it appears that none of these students are seeing podcasting, blogging, wikis, or any such technology in any of their courses. This concerns me. What also makes me wonder is that when asked if they want podcasting used in their courses 72% said they don’t. And while 75% said they use ipods regularly, 85.3% do not want to use them in class. So do they want it? Well these same students felt that technology in their courses made them more engaged, and felt courses using technology had more real-world examples they could use in the future. So do we use the technology they use on an everyday basis in class? Why not? Even if not all are excited about using the technology, studies prove it draws them in. And isn’t that what we want as instructors… to draw them in and excite them about our subject?
As a researcher I am very intrigued by how we as ag communicators and citizens of rural America are adopting and successfully (or unsuccessfully) using new technology to get our message out there. I personally not only research blogs and new technology, but I am in a transition generation that has only started being addicted to the technology (as our millennial generations are). I am “techie” by my own definition and can always be found using new technologies and social networking sites. I have tried my own blogs over the last few years, but a dissertation and the battle for tenure has always kept me at bay. So as I watch other ag communicators continue to adopt blogging, I feel I am a hypocrite if I don’t blog myself. So please read on. I hope to share not only my life as a new professor (or semi-new as my chair likes to say), my research, and my thoughts on agriculture and media.