I delivered a two hour lecture in English and Sinhala on new media to journalism diploma students at the Sri Lankan College of Journalism. I always begin by noting that it is impossible to learn new media through a presentation, much as one cannot learn swimming or cycling by reading. Stressing that new media is learnt by doing, the presentations on new media I attempt to open the minds of students to what’s possible using new media today, irrespective of their primary language, where they live and what socio-economic or identity group they belong to.
The culture of questioning in Sri Lankan classrooms is pathetic – not only are students scared to speak up or ask questions, their lack of participation makes it tremendously difficult to pitch a lecture at the right level. What I do find is a deep desire to learn about web media, including journalism from State media and students from regions well outside of Colombo and the Western Province. This is extremely heartening, and as the work to development web based radio journalism in Nissankamallapura in Pollonnaruwa demonstrated last year, the interest in new media cuts across language, social and political divides.