The media theorist, philosopher and professor, Marshall McLuhan, famously proclaimed “Medium is the message”.
Different interpretations of this quote are propounded to this day.
However, the most popular interpretation has always been that the particular medium through which people communicate is often more important than what is being communicated.
The evolution of media from print to radio/ television to internet/ mobile is just a broad arch.
Even before print there were written manuscripts and before that was oral storytelling. These mediums have often defined and significantly influenced the cultures of their respective times. The media of our times are no different.
Now is the age of ubiquitous media. There are just too many options to communicate and they are everywhere.
But if we look at the most popular ones – Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pintrest, Tumblr, Snapchat, Whatsapp, etc – the ubiquitous media allow people to share things with each other.
These creations are often small/ short; and hence easily created, easily shared and easily consumed.
In-fotainment and edu-tainment
While most sectors are trying to keep pace with the disruptive changes brought on by ubiquitous media, it is often quite difficult. Television stations cannot compete with Youtube.
In fact, a generation of millennials and post-millennials are growing up on Youtube and has never waited to watch a show on television at its slotted time.
They are also a mobile-first generation and are often impatient with things that require their attention for extended periods of time.
Such developments in technology and media undoubtedly impact many sectors, most notably EDtech and online learning.
The generations that are being entertained and engaged by popular media platforms seek such a seamless and engaging experience when it comes to learning too.
They seek to be info-tained. They seek to be edu-tained. They seek to be treated as audiences rather than as users, customers or learners.
Many universities and edu-preneurs moved their physical brick-and-mortar ideas into the ether of internet and mobile apps. This is a very traditional approach and they risk losing out on the young mobile-first audiences.
Shots as game-changers
We, at ChalkStreet.com, have launched what could be a game-changer. We are calling this Shots. Quick sliders of information presented in a visually appealing manner, that audiences can slam down like a shot of espresso coffee.
This format is akin to a new medium in which to create and consume information.
While video-based learning is still our mainstay at ChalkStreet.com, we believe that shorter and more engaging content formats will define the future of online learning.
At the moment, anyone can create shots. The shots can be in any of the approved topics on the site. And most importantly, it can be about anything in that topic.
In the private beta, a select few users comprised both learners and course authors created shots on various topics.
They were in many different styles – lists, stories, tips and tricks, how-tos, DIY guides, concepts and more. We just gave them a platform to create content and they ended-up defining the medium for us.
Through our curation process, our internal team approved these user-generated shots and made the best ones live. Once live, the shots were made available on the dashboard for all users.
They could then comment, like and share the shots on multiple social media platforms. The audience reception of these shots has been phenomenal and we seek to open our shot creation tool to all users in the near future.
A comment from a user just highlighted what we should focus on, “Shots are short, engaging and easy, just how learning should be.”
Here is a shot about ChalkStreet.
I welcome any comments or feedback on the evolving formats (and mediums) in Online Learning and ED Tech.
* Rajesh is a serial entrepreneur who has successfully built three enterprises in the Learning & Development space.
FACE – Focus Academy for Career Enhancement, his first initiative, is India’s largest placement training company that has transformed the careers of over 1.4 million students since inception in 2008.
ChalkStreet, his second initiative, is an Online Marketplace that helps people rediscover the joy of learning.
It offers affordable courses on career development and other learning needs of young adults LearnBee, his most recent initiative, seeks to solve the most crucial Enterprise challenge – improving productivity.
It is a mobile-first, offline enabled, gamified solution with bite-sized, fun and engaging learning schema. His Sales & Marketing prowess has helped him in setting up these enterprises on an exponential growth trajectory.