How has multimedia enhanced my learning?

The best example of multimedia I watched recently from which I really learned a lot was a movie I watched about a relatively new farming practice called "Biodynamic farming".

The video was relatively simple, done documentary style, but without seeing the actual practices they were discussing first hand through the video, I would not have understood what biodynamic farming was. This practice takes place largely in rural India, a place I am not likely to visit soon given it’s vast distance from me, so the video really brought me closer to the action.

What I learned about biodynamic farming is that it is a mix of typical organic farming with a sense of mysticism. Basically you have to prepare this special mixture of manure for composting, and the whole procedure is done in a very stylistic way. The purpose of this addition of religion to farming is actually make the practice, which is quite different from what Indian farmers have been doing under the so-called "Green revolution" more palatable for them. Superstition and religion are much more the part of the daily lives of the rural Indian people than they are for us, and combining some of their superstition with the farming practices has really turned them onto this way of farming, not to mention the results it produces.

Much of rural Indian farming has been destroyed by the Green revolution for many reasons, as I discovered from the video. First, the bacteria in the soil begin to die over the years as the chemicals used for fertilizing the plants become toxic to them. The soil begins to become more easily eroded, and uses much more water for irrigation. After 30 or 40 years, much of the farmable soil in India has been nearly destroyed. Biodynamic farming basically forces the farmers to spend much more attention on ensuring that the soil quality is high using more natural means. Within a couple of years, the soil can be restored, and food production goes way up.

I really like watching documentaries like this. They bring me to all corners of the world, in much the same way as books do (with one’s imagination). The visuals of the real world farming in this video were mixed with some charts describing the changes that were occurring, and the mix of the two types of media helped solidify my understanding of the situation. In fact my wife and I are planning on using some of the principles (minus the mysticism) in our own garden, once we have one.

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