On Wednesday 8 April, I escorted Ben to Makerere University Faculty of ICT. During our discussions with the deputy dean, we were introduced to the communications manager. After explaining our fields of study, I was requested to make a presentation to the final year class of mass communications on the subject of the new Media. I could not let such an opportunity go by, so I immediately accepted.
We made an appointment for the following Tuesday, but it was later postponed to this week. I was indeed excited to be back to the institution I left 25 years ago. My first impression of the students was their appearance. One could mistake them for secondary school students on a day out. They were so young and seemed so vulnerable.
I was escorted to the class by the head of department, Mass Communications, Ms Marjorie Kyomuhendo. I had prepared around 20 power point slides for my presentation. The projector was connect, but alas! It could not connect to my laptop. The projector did not have a USB jack!
I immediately took control and asked the students to make a sort of circle so that we could like seeing each other. After the introductions, I told them we were very lucky because the projector didn’t work. We therefore had to improvise. I assured them this was not a lecture but a session for sharing experiences. I explained that our session would have 4 phases: the first is by them telling me what they were studying; the next was I to tell them about New Media, the third how to connect the two and last discussion points.
The discussion was interactive. I made sure everyone had something to say, however silly. And before long the ice had broken and we were all laughing. They contributed information over media and their course. I asked leading questions to enable them understand the media better.
I took them through the history of both the media and mass media, while allowing them to add their own dimensions. I used the knowledge I acquired from Aaron Barlow’s book “The rise of Blogosphere” to build a case for the metamorphosis of the media industry culminating in what is called the New Media.
I brought up examples of media theorists from Vannever Bush, Marshall McLuhan, Bolter and Grusen, Foucault, Deleuze and others. I also provide a few examples of their theories like the memex; the medium is the message, remediation, discipline societies and rhizome respectively.
Finally we came to the New Media proper and tried to define it. Everyone by now was very active and from the students all sorts of New Media examples were elicited. The mobile phone, radio, Internet, blogging, digital camera, digital television, etc where mentioned. It was quite interesting when the students made the connection themselves between the New Media and Public relations, which is their specialty.
Lastly, the students discussed the best New Media tools that enable a PR person to do a better job. And these were: FM radio, mobile phone and Internet in that order.