New Media in Theological Education and the Church

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‘NEW MEDIA’ IN ‘THEOLOGICAL EDUCATION AND THE CHURCH’ OR THE VICE VERSA By - Butesen Ozukum

1. Introduction:

The Guttenberg Revolution or the invention of the Printing Press in the early 15 th century has led the world to witness an information explosion thus allowing people to absorb incredible amount of knowledge. Since then the term „information‟ became an influential and integral aspect in the lives of each individual. This emphasis has led to the development of countless technologies, all with the common goal of making information more accessible, affordable, and most importantly communicative. As a result, today in the modern age we see that the modern digital revolution has brought about a new type of communication as compared to the traditional „one-way‟ flow of information and communication, emphasising more on dialogue, relationship and discussion. Therefore, with the emphasis on communication as not only knowledge and information, but also community building, we see the emergence of countless new tools and mediums known as „New Media‟, all created with the intention of making media more interactive and participatory. Its reach and influence has become so vast that if there is one phenomenon that is impacting our society today, it is the use of different New Media in almost every walk of life.

Community-building, evangelization and social justice, which are significant aspects of the mission of the Church, still stands robust and will continue to stand firm. At this age of technology and its impact upon the lives of the people, the biggest challenge of the Church today is to cope and exist together with this digital era. Can the Church also make use of this New Media in fulfilling its mission? How do we relate faith and technology? How do theological institutions perceive New Media which is the primary institution for preparing leaders for this digitalized society? These are some of the pertaining questions that confront us when we think about the Church and its mission in relation to the technological development.

Considering the influence of the New Media on individuals and the society at large in every sphere of life, it can also be said that in this scenario, instead of trying to figure out the role of New Media in the Church, we should ask what should be the role of the Church and theological institutions in this New Media Era. Therefore in this paper we shall try to

understand what „New Media‟ is and thus discover the possibilities of what theological institutions and the Church should do in our New Media mediated world in fulfilling its mission.

2.

Understanding New Media:

The development of New Media and its morph is so rapid and continuous that trying to pin an exact definition for New Media becomes difficult. Development in technology takes place almost at regular intervals that we actually cannot virtually predict as to how technologies we see and use today, will be tomorrow. One thing we know for sure is that it will continue to progress. Despite the difficulty, New Media Institute‟s Baily Socha and Barbara EberSchmid, defines New Media as “a 21 st century catchall term used to define all that is related to the internet and the interplay between technology, images and sound.” 1 So vast and continuous is the development of New Media, that some are of the view that it would be better to ask „what isn‟t New Media‟ instead of asking „what is New Media‟.

The Iowa State University, Studio for New Media, discusses some of the challenges involved in understanding what New Media is wherein, from different sources, they bring out some of the understanding of New Media and discuss the complexity involved. Firstly, they bring in the understanding of New Media with simple list of technologies such as: CD-ROM, HTML, streaming media, web applications etc. However, in this regard, their argument is that, these specific technologies are defined and understood in different ways with the...
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