Under Investigation

investigationThese last few weeks have been a whirlwind in terms of  learning new technologies, both in practice and in theory. I’m thankful for the opportunity to have learned so much in such a short time. Because the course is ending, however, does not mean that my investigation into technology ends. Rather, because of the course, I’ve learned about or more about tools to enrich student learning. The only way to check effectiveness and fit for me and my teaching style is to experiment. Thus, some technologies which I’d like to further investigate include: podcasts and adding voice or music to a Prezi. Podcasts could create a sense of warmth and welcome for students. Further, adding voice or music to a Prezi could enhance a presentation. Also, I’d like to figure out how to wrap text around an illustration in this blog. To summarize my investigation into technology tools, especially for the format of online teaching, has, in the words of the Grammy-Award winning group, The Carpenters, “We’ve Only Just Begun”. For those unfamiliar with the song or the group, here’s a link for your enjoyment: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__VQX2Xn7tI&feature=kp

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Multimedia Usage Enhances Student Learning

Give a couple examples in which multimedia (any combination of video, audio, graphics) would help the learning process. Give a couple examples in which you would NOT want to use multimedia.

As with any resource utilized in a class, careful selection is key.  In other words, multimedia should not be used for the sake of using multimedia. Rather, multimedia should be selected to compliment course materials.  As a result, effective multimedia selection will enhance student learning.

Most educators have utilized videos or DVDs in their classrooms. However, sometimes a clip from a film is all that is needed to convey the point needed in using this multimedia format. For example, there is a scene from the movie “U-571” which shows racial intolerance and compliments Richard Wright’s novel, Native Son. The visual representation depicts Wright’s ideals in a way that brings his literature to life. The video creates a reality for students in a way that they are able to connect.

Music is often overlooked as a multimedia format. I have played music as a journal assignment. I usually select something I know students are unlikely to have heard. I play it twice. Students are to respond on an emotional level on the first play, and then an intellectual level for the second play. A class discussion follows. Its purpose is to stimulate critical thinking skills where students are told, “No longer is a Yes/No response acceptable. You need to substantiate your viewpoint.” This activity helps students learn how to use critical thinking skills which they transfer to writing paragraphs or essays.

Audio recordings help students comprehend a difficult story or poem. As a side benefit to a literary audio performance, students are able to hear words that may be difficult to pronounce or dialects that may be difficult to imagine. This is as close to podcasts as I’ve utilized thus far; however, podcasts are now on my radar. According to Gardner Campbell in “There’s Something in the Air”, student podcasts provide a sense of connectedness and a forum for discussion.  Campbell introduces the term “profcasts” which is a podcast recorded by a professor. He suggests that a profcast will “plant seeds of interest” for the student. Dan Baltzer and Susan Manning in their podcast “Hearing Voices in Online Courses” (on which our instructor Norm Garrett is referenced) concur. Baltzer and Manning suggest that podcasts provide “contextual information to support the readings” and provides a forum to personalize the class and create a connection with the students.  Thus, podcasts are a technology I need to evaluate if and when I teach an online course.

Using multimedia addresses diverse learning styles and creates different types of opportunities for student learning. Other than a lack of unavailability, I’m unable to think of a scenario when I wouldn’t consider multimedia implementation if it would enhance instruction.