ACTE Techniques October 2011 : Page 46

Fea ture By Dave Cornelius STEMM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Math...and Multimedia? “WITHouT THE SkILLS technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines and their economic importance is certainly justified. Un -fortunately, when we push to improve a specific discipline, it often has negative effects on everything else. The problem occurs when the excitement, funding and focus effectively relegate other equally important disciplines to a second-class stature. The resulting myopia is especially damaging when the relegated discipline is an integral part of, and impacts, every -thing. Consider multimedia technologies. They are part science, technology, engi -neering, math, communication, language and art. They simply don’t fit a silo ap -proach to education, yet are integral parts of everyone’s list of 21st century skills. Currently multimedia and the cor -responding technology literacy programs are being downgraded as expensive fluff, and are being replaced by more in vogue disciplines with easily standardized and tested content. However, without the skills learned in multimedia disciplines, even the world’s greatest achievements go unpublished and research proceeds at a virtual snail’s pace. Multimedia students must be masters of ohms, watts, sound pressure levels, heat signatures and dynamic range. They plot the area of spheres covered by electronic signals beamed from distant moving sources. They can determine the amount of lumber required to construct a cyclo -rama and cove curved horizontally and vertically so that light refracts rather than reflects. They regularly apply active voice, pacing, pathos or ethos and demonstrate LEARNED IN MuLTIMEDIA DISCIPLINES, EVEN THE WORLD’S GREATEST ACHIEVEMENTS GO UNpUBLISHED AND RESEARCH pROCEEDS AT A VIRTUAL SNAIL’S pACE.” T HE CURRENT BUzz SURROUNDING science, use of light, composition, tempo, timbre, tone, frequency and color correction? Then of course they must navigate pixel widths, compression codices, baud rates, download speeds, bandwidths, search engines and mobile devices—all while communicating and collaborating in an “always on” environment. For any one of these skills you might contact a physicist, an engineer, a mathematician, a com -puter technologist, a writer, an artist or a musician. However, if you prefer one-stop shopping, you might visit any number of high school multimedia classrooms across the country and ask a media student. Bet -ter still, ask them to show you. Multimedia Communication Is 21st Century Literacy Whether you call it multimedia commu -nications, communication technologies, technology literacy or digital journalism, the skills, techniques and tools acquired remain core elements for survival in a digital world. Without them, individuals are functionally illiterate. If you think that is a bold statement, search O*net online. More than 230 careers require multimedia skills. Nearly one-third of them have higher than average growth expectations. Compare that to searches for careers requiring the specialized knowledge and skills necessary for any of the other STEM disciplines. The emphasis on media skills is so per-vasive it has prompted the federal govern -ment to fund a department dedicated to digital literacy ( www.DigitalLiteracy. gov ). In addition, U.S. Senate bill S-1178, dubbed the ATTAIN Act, seeks to fund programs that emphasize “the need to PHoTo By ISToCk.CoM 46 Techniques OCTOBER 2011

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