Make them love the Sea…

…and see all of media and communication – A Personal Reminder by Michael-Bernhard Zita, MEDLIT Project Manager

In panels and lectures, our friend Wolfgang Renner (Wiener Zeitung) is often telling a story, that is originally awarded to Antoine de Saint-Exupery. He says, if you want to build a boat or more sustainable, if you want to feed your family for the rest of your life as a fisher, you shouldn’t teach to fish or instruct and assign them tasks to build a boat step by step. No, you should teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.

You could now discuss if the love to travel the sea alone would make you a great boat builder or fisherman but in the end, there is a little truth in it. But how could we use this realization for our project? Aren’t scientist already in the lucky position, to do what they love? Look for more knowledge, share this knowledge and get paid for it. Yes, ideally we are lucky, but as we all know the reality is often different with more and more documentation needs, more and more administrative work.

But perhaps we look in the wrong direction, doing MOOCs shouldn’t be limited to transfer knowledge and test the learning outcomes OR make it easy to finish all assignments, so the number of graduates grows. Don’t get me wrong, all of this is important, but as communication and media scholars we probably should teach them to love communication and learn them to see the myriad of wonders. It isn’t a matter of fact that communication works, it is a miracle – especially when you are looking at the growing numbers of different perspectives and the polarization that comes with it when everybody insists that there is only their own truth.

Understanding communication means to understand that there is no simple truth, but the need of empathy to understand others and only if we all try to understand and accept that others not only can but are allowed to think different, we can take steps to close the growing gaps again.

We could learn and discuss the importance of diversity but there are others (!sic), that can and love to lecture about that. So let’s start with simple things and make our audience love the endless colors, shallows, and depths of the sea of media and communication and perhaps we will find the time to remind ourselves why we started to do these things and why they are important.

During the MOOC roadshow, the prototypes of the Media Literacy MOOCs for Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam were finished. Next step will be extensive testing and work with the audience to create the best MOOCs possible during the project time.

Cross-Posting: First posted at medlit.univie.ac.at

Picture: CC0 Public Domain

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