Media Students Embrace digital culture

On: April 23, 2009
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About Ali Balunywa
I have 20 years experience in the print media in Africa and Europe. I am in possession of a Bachelors degree in social sciences from Makerere University in Kampala and a post graduate diploma in Journalism and Media management. I am currently following a Masters of Media in New Media studies at the University of Amsterdam.



On Wednesday 8 April, I escorted Ben to Makerere University Faculty of ICT. During our discussions with the deputy dean, we were introduced to the communications manager. After explaining our fields of study, I was requested to make a presentation to the final year class of mass communications on the subject of the New Media. I could not let such an opportunity go by, so I immediately accepted.


We made an appointment for the following Tuesday, but it was later postponed to this week. I was indeed excited to be back to the institution I left 25 years ago. My first impression of the students was their appearance. One could mistake them for secondary school students on a day out. They were so young and seemed so vulnerable.


I was escorted to the class by the head of department, Mass Communications, Ms Marjorie Kyomuhendo. I had prepared around 20 power point slides for my presentation. The projector was connected, but alas! It could not connect to my laptop. It did not have a USB jack!


I immediately took control and asked the students to make a sort of circle where we could see each other. After the introductions, I told them we were lucky because the projector didn’t work. We therefore had to improvise. I assured them this was not a lecture but a session for sharing experiences. I explained that our session would have 4 phases: the first is by them telling me what they were studying; the next was I to tell them about New Media, the third how to connect the two and last discussion points.


The discussion was interactive. I made sure everyone had something to say, however silly. And before long the ice had broken and we were all laughing. They contributed information over media and their course. I asked leading questions to enable them understand the media better.


I took them through the history of both the media and mass media, while allowing them to add their own dimensions. I used the knowledge I acquired from Aaron Barlow’s book “The rise of Blogosphere” to build a case for the metamorphosis of the media industry culminating in what is called the New Media.


I brought up examples of media theorists from Vannever Bush, Marshall McLuhan, Bolter and Grusen, Foucault, Deleuze and others. I also provided a few examples of their theories like the memex; the medium is the message, remediation, discipline societies and rhizome respectively.


Finally we came to the New Media proper and tried to define it. Everyone by now was very active and from the students all sorts of New Media examples were elicited. The mobile phone, radio, Internet, blogging, digital camera, digital television, etc where mentioned. It was quite interesting when the students made the connection themselves between the New Media and Public relations, which is their specialty.


Lastly, the students discussed the best New Media tools that enable a PR person to do a better job. And these were: FM radio, mobile phone and Internet in that order.








4 Responses to “Media Students Embrace digital culture”
  • April 25, 2009 at 9:54 pm

    There goes Jan Simons’ class, all the way to Kampala. Interesting to see the quick jumps of knowledge from teacher to student, becoming teacher talking to students, in 6 months time! Regards, Geert

  • June 3, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    Hey Ali,

    Reading the posting took me back to the several workshops I had with Zambian Secondary School Teachers. I really enjoyed the read and liked the way you handled the situation when the projection did not work. Your style of teaching sounds really interactive, you really started a conversation and tried to formulate and answer questions together with the students. During my time in Zambia I have learned that this style of teaching (constructivist approach) is something that most Zambian teachers were not familiar with. In Zambia most teachers were more of a chalk-and-talk style of teaching in where the teachers did the talking and the students did the listening.

    I was wondering if you noticed the same thing at University there and how the students responded to your style of teaching. During my workshop it always took me a couple of minutes to get everyone on board and make them realize “that we are in this together”. Let me know how you experienced this.

    Little bit of a late response but I did not see this post before…sorry

  • June 4, 2009 at 9:53 am

    Sure Rikus, it took time to get everybody involved, and when they did, they did not want to end. Each of them realised he/she was contributinng positively. I realized they all didn’t know that they knew so much! Thanks for the observations.


  • September 29, 2009 at 11:04 am

    Hi Ali, it was great reading this. never too late. That was a memorable class. I hope our students will get to interact with you the next time you are in uganda.

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