He condensed the world-shaking prophecies into the dictum ‘The Medium is the Message.’ We are just now beginning to understand the implications of his words.
This phrase referred to the fact that media (as extensions of the human mind and body) are inextricable but independent from their content (human thought). While the words are esoteric, it has shaped my studies and practice of educational technology at San Diego State University.
As my studies progress and my skills grow, I have realized that the idea that “the medium is the message” is essential to instructional design. The constantly emerging media that educational technologists must adopt requires that we understand the full range of potential cognitive benefits and pitfalls associated with each medium.
We must now closely examine the ‘affordances’ (or unique, beneficial properties of a medium) and constraints (or limitations) inherent in each new technology that we use.
This secondary reading of McLuhan’s phrase leads me to a design process that I call ‘Conversion.’
Conversion, as a metaphor for design, describes the movement of content across media in a way that takes advantage of a new medium’s affordances and overcomes its constraints. It is a philosophy that requires an intense study of how individual mediums work, and how we can utilize media to achieve our goals.
Conversion is also grounded in contemporary research on cognitive science,...
... middle of paper ...
...cess of converting existing design into theoretical structure helped me to grasp the power of incidental learning.
Finally, the portfolio’s look and feel resulted from Conversion. When I began, I attempted to make the portfolio from scratch using a standard website layout. Technical problems and compatibility issues plagued the page.
At this point, I tried co-opting a WordPress.com blog to add a more effective structure to the site. I set about using the affordances of blogs (a clear hierarchy and structure, dozens of pre-made layouts, and customizable interfaces) to enhance my portfolio. This conversion of a blog into a portfolio solved not only my technological problems, but also a number of design issues.
These projects tell of the transformations that occurred in my design process even as I guessed, gambled, and discovered my way through the Master’s program.
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