I was reading a report this week put out by ExactTarget called Marketers from Mars. It described how marketing professionals tend to be on the cutting edge of technology, trying to discover the next best way to connect with their customers. The report cautioned that marketers should remember that even though they are on Twitter and they pay attention to ads on Facebook, the averages consumer isn’t and doesn’t. Bear with me while I share a couple paragraphs from the summary section of the report:
Decades ago, marketers were not explorers. They dealt only in the well-settled lands of television, radio, and print. Their form of social media was a three-martini lunch.
Today, however, every marketer must have a streak of restlessness and willingness to embrace the new. The challenge is how to balance new technologies with those that consumers use. Indeed, the best marketers will be those who can keep one eye on the future while meeting the needs of today’s audiences, seizing the opportunities of today’s devices, and navigating the evolving rules of today’s channels.
It got me thinking… not about marketing, but about educational technology. I’m on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest. I have an account for Learnist, Prezi, Mural.ly, and as of today, for Gliffy, too. I have created voice threads and screencats. I write a blog, and I follow several blogs. I dig Diigo. So I have a lot of tools at my disposal when it comes to creating an instructional design, but does the typical adult learner even know what half of those things are?
Go back and re-read that excerpt above, substituting “educators” for “marketers” and “learners” for “consumers.” With the exception of the three-martini lunch (and maybe even that fits?), those paragraphs could have just as easily been written about today’s evolving education landscape of hybrid classes, mobile learning, and MOOCs.
As I sit down this weekend to work on a design for a new adult learning theory class aimed as busy, overworked, and non-digital native medical educators, what is going to be the best use of technology to create a meaningful learning experience? Should I focus on the technologies they are already familiar (maybe even comfortable) with, or do I push the boundaries just a bit to stretch their thinking about what tools might be useful in their own teaching?
I’m leaning toward the latter, in part because I have truly enjoyed being introduced to so many new technologies, but also because the students these medical educators are teaching do embrace technology, and I think it will enhance the educators’ effectiveness with those digital natives to meet them where they are. Again, referring to the Martian marketers, “When marketers are considering all options for their cross-channel marketing strategies, they should not only be thinking ahead, but also maintaining a connection to how today’s consumer are behaving and reacting online.”
Commencing countdown, engines on… look out, Mars. Here we come!