The Future of Work: New Media Literacy

Employees of all sectors are increasingly expected to be proficient in creating content in multimedia formats such as video, blog, microblog, podcasting, instant messaging while excelling in traditional ways of presenting and communicating in person as well. I’m going to include social media writ large here since I’m not going to cover it elsewhere. Subject matter experts are designing and conducting training sessions and presenting information and ideas in meetings (not as easy as presumed).

Beyond technical video production skills – which include working with a camera, lighting, framing and editing – are storytelling skills. Within the next few years, we’ll need to portray concepts, ideas and activities using visual language. We’ll be expected to portray facts, connections, and data through information visualizations. The modern knowledge worker is already expected to be able to read and interpret these data/visualizations.

Future new media skills that will be required (listed by profession)

Analysts will have to know how to:

  • read & understand the legalese of service agreements made with third-party platforms.
  • mitigate risks, including those around perception and privacy.
  • meet accessibility requirements (as well as other policies if you’re in the public sector).
  • improve usability/ease of use of existing employee experiences.

Administrative professionals will need to know how to use social sharing sites as well, for example, to upload video to video sharing platforms.

Human Resources will be self-service. Leave requests, vacation, health insurance forms, pay and benefits options will all be done online. Employees will be expected to take most of their training online as well.

At the manager level, people will need to know how to use web-based collaborative project management software (e.g. BaseCamp). They’ll need to be aware of and understand implications of using cloud-based options for overcoming internal IT challenges.

Senior managers will need to trust employees to use new media technologies, while guiding them to do their due diligence. They have the right and the obligation to question the value proposition and support staff them through small failures and experimentation in an effort to get it right before unveiling large systems or projects.

Where can you get it?

It’s difficult for employees to keep up with the ever changing landscape of new technologies. Considering ongoing advancements in cloud-computing, social media and new media formats, you basically have to commit yourself to life-long learning.

For video production, the price of tools like Camtasia are worth it for novice level video producers. If memory serves, Camtasia also includes the option of sub-titles which is great for improved accessibility for the visually impaired (or for anyone who prefers to read vs. listen).

First, try the free video creating software to see if it’s something you would enjoy doing. You may already have proprietary software that came with your computer. I made this video in an afternoon with a digital camera and software I had never used before.

SAW Video rents video gear and offers workshops. Though you should be able to get started with your smart phone or digital camera. For those more inclined towards moblie/app-based fun, Animoto is great for those on the go.

In the workplace, slides remain a dominant software for just about everything. If you’re stuck with that, or maybe a safe stepping stone, I recommend reading Slideology by Nancy Duarte (and follow her on twitter) and practice her tips for visual storytelling.

Even easier, and especially useful in a pinch with tight timelines is to record your voice over slides or over screen captures. Both slideshare and prezi now have this option with their free, hosted solutions. (Note of caution for prezi: be intentional with movement as the jerky motion can cause nauseau or distract your audience from what you are trying to say. Prezi is best when you want to show depth — narrowing in on details then pulling back to show the context/big picture).

If you are going through the trouble of recording it; write a script. A little planning goes a long way. The script also works as a transcript for posting with the video which improves accessibility for those who are visually impaired or don’t have the time/software for playing the video.

Speaking of presentations
I might as well add here that I also find there is increased expectation within the past 2 – 3 years to be able to deliver an hard hitting talk in less than 10 minutes.

Recent popularity of ignite, peccha kucha, lightening talk means many of us have given at least one of the forms a go.

At the same time, we also need to excel at traditional methods including letters, whitepapers, the elevator pitch, briefing note, deck and other forms of short presentations to peers or decision makers.


According to Rotman Magazine there are “10 New Skills That Every Worker Needs”. Each week, I’m posting a summary of local (or online), free (or cheap), resources that are appropriate for public sector professionals to gain skills in these areas.

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About Laura

As a Business Analyst working for the Canadian federal government in Web usability, I have the opportunity to be a part of a growing movement of professionals implementing user-centered design principles.
This entry was posted in Improving the Public Service, Public Service Renewal and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Future of Work: New Media Literacy

  1. Kent says:

    “…you basically have to commit yourself to life-long learning.”

    Yup. The good news is that it’s good news.

    Really enjoying this series.

    One addition: I like Prezi, but if Powerpoint is all you have to work with, you can now convert slideshows to movies in the Save As menu. Then open them in Windows Movie Maker (free) and add a voiceover.

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