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Choosing Appropriate Media

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One challenge in developing the educational component of your project is deciding which media to use to accomplish your goals. Often, any number of media could be used to deliver the same or similar content. So how do you decide what your strategy should be?

Review the goals, objectives, and target audience for your educational outreach effort. Think about what each medium does well and how your audience might use each medium.

Now consider your budget and the technologies available to your target audience. You need to decide what is the best media for reaching your audience and what is the most cost-effective way to have the widest reach. Sometimes these are the same; sometimes they aren't -- that's when you have to make compromises.

For example, using the Web as a print-distribution mechanism does not take advantage of its strengths. Yet if you can't afford to print and mail your materials, this may be your only distribution option. Similarly, streaming video on the Web can be a great way to accomplish a broad reach, but many people won't be able to access the streaming or will find it too slow. You may want to consider distributing on CD-ROM, DVD, or videocassette as well.

For more information on the different educational outreach formats, see the following Formats areas:

Print |  Web/Interactive |  Video |  Person-to-Person Activities

Because technology changes so quickly, any statement declaring the best use of any media would be out of date in months. The key is to learn as much as you can about your target audience. Find out what's really going on, not just what the statistics say. While most schools may be wired, computers may be located in the lab rather than in individual classrooms, and their network speeds may be limited. Many teachers still prefer getting printed materials over downloading guides from the Web, but this may change. And what works for teachers and schools may not work for after-school programs or libraries. You need to know your market and think critically about why you are choosing one media over another. Whatever decision you make is fine, as long as you can justify it to yourself and your funders!

Case Study: Evolution and Poetic License

Evolution teacher's guide coverThe Evolution project used Web, video, print, and face-to-face training to accomplish its central goal: improving the teaching of evolution. This goal was accomplished by the following educational outreach efforts:

  • An online professional development course
  • Videos of teachers in the classroom teaching evolution
  • A teacher's guide that modeled how to use the different Evolution resources in the classroom
  • Training lead teachers to hold teacher-training workshops around the country

Because the educational outreach components were so integrated, they were very complementary. The online professional development course, for instance, benefited greatly from including clips from the teacher videos of teachers teaching evolution; it also gave teachers access to classroom resources, such as the online student lessons, student videos, and teacher's guide. While Evolution would be difficult to replicate, as it was an unusually well-funded project, it serves as a useful illustration of choosing appropriate media for educational outreach.

Poetic License, on the other hand, was a medium-sized project that chose a combination of mini-grants, teacher's and viewer's guides, a curriculum packet, and a Web site to excite youth about writing.

These tightly targeted educational outreach media enabled the project to support both teachers and youth-serving groups and organizations in working with youths. In particular, mini-grants helped local stations reach out to their communities to develop poetry slams, student/teacher workshops, Web projects, and interstitials or studio programming that aired on their stations.





In this section:
    Defining Audience
    & Goals

    Collaborating with
    Partners

    Defining
    Educational Content

>  Choosing Appropriate
    Media

    Budgeting
    & Scheduling

    Determining
    Rights Needs

    Evaluating Your Efforts

Process | Formats | Case Studies | Research & Resources
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