541 – Multimedia in the classroom

Here is a link to the video blog on Youtube

Here is the text of the video:

This week’s learning log entry topic is to discuss the benefits of using multimedia in the classroom, and appropriately the media chosen to discuss this topic is video.
The concept of multimedia in classroom instruction is not a new one. Teachers have been finding ways to deliver information and facilitate learning using multiple strategies since the early 1900’s. Today, however digital media has made it possible for teachers and students to learn in ways not possible as little as 15 years ago.

Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching lists some of the many benefits of the use of video for example as being

the ability to demonstrate procedures

the development of student created presentations

video lectures – which is gaining traction today in the Flipped classroom concept spearheaded by such organizations as the Khan Academy.

student video portfolios

video simulation and problem solving simulations

documentation of school activities

Visual literacy instructions

teaching video production

real time communication, collaboration, and presentation through the use of such services as Skype.

As I stated earlier the ability for teachers and students to access digital video has changed dramatically over the last 2 decades. Personally I was using video production in the classroom in the early 90’s when students produced their work using large format VHS cameras and editing linearly using two vcr’s. The final product was crude and unpolished, however even with that limited technology the benefits for students was obvious.

Students producing video documentaries were forced to think about storytelling as well as research and interview techniques to teach their audience about their topic. As we all know one of the best measurements of learning is whether or not you can teach it to someone else. A unit I developed focuses in on the abstract concept of metaphor as discussed in a TED talk by James Geary found in my list of video resources. As part of this unit students grouped themselves in specific areas of interest chosen from the TED talk and created short documentaries that included research, experiments, interviews and good storytelling. Here is a short taste of some of their work.

Other forms of successful multi media instruction are the use of podcasts and the creation of visual representations of concepts in literature. I have students in my ninth grade language arts class create podcasts as part of a unit of instruction in Shakespeare’s A Mid Summer Nights Dream, where students record themselves performing scenes and creating the mood and atmosphere of the scene through the development of a soundtrack. Students practice and record the language of shakespeare which requires an analysis of the ideas within the dialogue. My students have created presentations where they are asked to find images that represent concepts within short stories and explain the metaphor presented, which calls on higher level cognitive strategies such as analysis and synthesis.

When teachers use multimedia in the classroom it is clear that students are more engaged, however careful considerations must also be made not to over stimulate the learner. According to e-learning and the science of instruction by clark and meyer adding extraneous elements to multimedia learning material that do not support educational objectives can actually damage the learning process. Graphics and sounds that are not related to the educational objectives of the presentation are nothing more than distracting. Spicing up a lesson by adding extraneous elements damages the process. Another  psychological theory is that the human brain can only upload a finite amount of information at a time. Too much information can lead to cognitive overload. The brain processes information through visual and aural channels, therefore multimedia strategies that present information on the separate channels are found to be successful. However studies have also shown that redundancy by using text and animations or narration and sound effects overloads the channels and impairs learning.

Using multimedia technology to enhance learning is clearly becoming more and more a necessary part of education. It is one way of increasing engagement, deepening impact through increased relevance and also supporting the variety of ways that people learn.

References:

1. Clark, R. C., & Mayer, R. E. (2008). E-learning and the science of instruction: Proven guidelines for consumers and designers of multimedia learning. San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.

2. Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2010). Integrating educational technology into teaching. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

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513 – Coherence Analysis

  1. What is the Coherence Principle and its most important constraints/criteria?

The coherence principle in multimedia learning suggests that presentations must contain elements that are logical and consistent with the objectives of the presentation and that extraneous images, audio, or animation detracts from learning. “In short, according to the coherence principle, you should avoid adding any material that does not support the instructional goals.”(Clark & Mayer, 2008) The theory is that unnecessary audio or visual material may overload cognitive channels and decrease comprehension by the learner. Although, “Mayer listed positive results for eliminating extraneous materials in thirteen out of fourteen experiments…”(Clark & Mayer, 2008), it is still unclear how the coherence principle effects learners with extensive prior knowledge on a subject or learners within a long term instructional program. It is within this context that the Interactive Multimedia Electronic Journal of Computer Enhanced learning recommends educators should “…identify techniques for presentation of verbal and visual information that minimizes working memory load and promotes meaningful learning.”(Moreno & Mayer, 1999)

  1. Describe and/or include one example of successful and one example of unsuccessful attempts to apply the Coherence Principle in actual instruction and training you have experienced, especially as it might be implemented in PowerPoint-based instruction and training. Have you ever seen this principle violated or abused? Identify the violations, including citations as needed from your textbook.

Many times, in an effort to increase interest or emotional arousal in a presentation, instructional designers will introduce extraneous multimedia elements in order to increase perceived level of excitement or engagement. Arousal theory is “the idea that entertaining and interesting embedded effects cause learners to become more emotionally aroused and therefore work harder to learn the material.”(Clark & Mayer, 2008) Unconsciously, this is the principle I have seen applied many times by students in my Media Arts classes who, after creating a presentation rich with interesting visuals and informative content, resort to overlaying the latest hip-hop hit that is appealing to the group, but irrelevant to the project. Student developers are hoping to appeal to the viewer’s musical aesthetic in order to engage their interest in the presentation, thereby reducing the likelihood of any meaningful learning. Alternatively, I have seen many examples of Media Arts students adhering to the coherence principle in the creation of nonverbal narratives, which use music to support the story through establishing the mood and atmosphere of the conflict and the emotional elements of character. Through the careful selection of music one can enhance the visual impact of the narrative and the overall impact of the presentation.

  1. Discuss the relationship of the Coherence Principle to other Multimedia Learning Principles examined thus far in your readings.

Cognitive, Redundancy, and Modality Principles are related to each other and the Coherence Principle through their relationship to how people learn and the limitations of human perception. All of the theories revolve around the limitations of cognitive input and deal with sight, sound, and our ability to synthesize a finite amount of information at any given time. The above principles all relate to the organization of learning materials in such a way as to avoid overloading cognitive channels and designing educational materials to manipulate and maximize sensory input for learning.

  1. Discuss the relationship of the Coherence Principle to fundamental theories of psychology as described by Clark & Mayer in your textbook.

As far back as 1913 John Dewey wrote in his paper Internet and effort in education, that “…interest cannot be added to an otherwise boring lesson like some kind of seasoning.”(Dewey, 1913). If the lesson is uninteresting, one must look to the material itself and in fact the introduction of unnecessary visuals or sound will have the opposite effect, distracting the learner and interfering with their ability to make sense of the given material. These negative learning results are amplified for students who have trouble processing information. Psychologically, it is suggested that learning materials that are streamlined to present in a coherent, uncluttered, and simplified manner, without the addition of supplemental material, are more likely to be understood and retained because the learning process stems from the students cognitive efforts to “fill in the gaps” and make sense of the material. Students given too much information on a topic, especially if it delivered in simultaneous cognitive channels, will not retain the information due to cognitive overload.

 

  1. What do you personally like or dislike about this principle? Present a coherent, informed opinion and explain why you hold this opinion. Are there any limitations or qualifications of the principle (caveats) which the authors did not consider and, if so, what are they?

It could be argued that the coherence principle simplifies the learning process and does not consider the cognitive capabilities of the advanced student. It is clear that there are limitations to cognitive input no matter how much previous knowledge a student has, however does the inclusion of examples that involve the application of the learning principles in real life situations qualify as extraneous? The text suggests that adding extraneous words to add technical depth to information such as providing extended examples of the learning principle at work may distract from the learning objectives. This may be applied to the learner who is new to the material, but can this be true with experienced students of the material? I would contest that providing real life applications of the learning material within a presentation would assist with the cognitive process of “making sense” of the material. In my experience providing contextual examples of concepts reinforces understanding and increases retention.

References:

 

1. Clark, R. C., & Mayer, R. E. (2008). E-learning and the science of instruction: Proven guidelines for consumers and designers of multimedia learning. San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.

 

2. Dewey, J. (1913). Internet and effort in education. Cambridge, MA: Houghton Mifflin.

 

3. Mayer, R.E.,  & Moreno, R. (2000). A Learner-Centered Approach to Multimedia Explanations: Deriving Instructional Design Principles from Cognitive Theory. Interactive Multimedia Electronic Journal of Computer-Enhanced Learning. Wake Forest University.

541 – Voicethread Blog Entry

The following blog entry can be found as an audio source in the following Voicethread

The Internet and Learning

As education evolves further into the 21st century the list of reasons why, and evidence for using the Internet in education is steadily growing. It is no coincidence that educational resources for Internet use is expanding while the capabilities and ease of access increases and the cost of hardware and software declines. For many schools the only reason there has not been consistent use of the Internet has been prohibitive costs and lack of access for all classes. Today the cost of equipment for schools has dramatically reduced and implementation of “Bring Your Own Devices” programs have alleviated the equal access issue.

Today the only real arguments against harnessing the power of the Internet for education are access to inappropriate material, safety and privacy issues, Internet fraud, computer viruses, and copyright or plagiarism issues. Although all of these issues can have serious consequences for students, to ignore the capabilities of the Internet for gathering information, sharing resources, engaging students, communication, solving problems, building artifacts, and exploration is a dis-service to students and does not prepare them for life in the world outside of school.

One of the fastest growing categories of Internet use in education is distance education. The use of the Internet in post secondary distance programs has been common for some time now, however distance programs in K-12 institutions are becoming more commonplace. As Roblyer and Doering state in Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching, fifth edition,“Thanks to distance technologies such as broadcast systems and the Internet, learning has escaped the physical boundaries of the classroom and the school, and students and teachers have become part of a virtual classroom they share with counterparts around the world.”(Roblyer, Doring 2010) Schools and classes right down to Kindergarten are accessing the Internet to mine resources, material, and experts from around the world, as well as collaborating and communicating with other virtual classrooms, increasing global awareness.

As part of this audio blog post we are required to outline some of the ways in which we use the INternet in our classrooms. Here is a breakdown of some of the ways in which I utilize the Internet in my classrooms.

I utilize Internet extensively in all my classes to increase engagement, deepen relevance and impact. My classes are centered around the philosophy that technology is a rich tool that must be used to break down the walls of the traditional classroom in order to prepare students for the challenges of the 21st century world.
All of my classes utilize Wikispaces to act as the hub of all information on assignments, assessment, calender of events and due dates, resources such as down-loadable assignments, external links, embedded video, images, and widgets. I requires each student in all of my classes to create their own wiki and invite me to become a member of that site. I then records the URL of each student and can access my students’ virtual notebook at anytime from any location to assess and provide feedback for students. My students often communicate through the Wikispaces account with me asking questions or requesting reevaluation of assignments. Parents are sent an email early in the semester which contains the URL of their son or daughters site so that they may actively participate in their child’s education.
In Media Arts, Language Arts, and Photography I strive to engage student to discover and utilize productive and safe online practices. My lessons often include strategies for assimilating and evaluating online content for relevancy and reliability while encouraging students to use best practices of netiquette. In Language Arts, students extensively utilize a class blog for
the purposes of inquiry, collaboration, and discussion. This process includes instruction on the importance of quality responses to posts that include supplemental information, possess questions, and stimulates further discussion. All of my Language Arts students are required to establish and share a gmail account with me. This process allows students to collaborate with each other in pairs, small groups and as an entire class on projects in Google documents and create collaborative presentations in Google presentations. Through the gmail accounts list I can share documents and presentations with my students and students can share their work with me for assessment and revision.
Students in my Language Arts classes create high quality projects that solidify and demonstrate learning through the development of podcasts in a variety of units such as the study of Shakespeare and documentary video production when analyzing the power of metaphor.
The use of technology in my Media Arts class is the cornerstone for instruction, exploration, discovery, and creation. In Media Arts students engage in film analysis that requires students to be able to discern quality from the overwhelming amount of trivial online video content. This process then leads to the creation of their own quality online content. Students create their own online portfolio which houses resources and showcases projects. Many student video projects are uploaded to Youtube and embedded on their personal e-portfolio for viewing and assessment. Students in Media Arts collaborate using web 2.0 tools for script development and pre-production.
In Photography students often look to the world wide web for examples of exemplary work through sites such as National Geographic or directly from the sites of professional photographers. Students create their own online digital portfolio that includes digital slide shows of their assignments, multimedia photojournalism projects, written reflection on the work of professionals, resources and links. My photography class also harnesses the power of mobile technology in a unit which requires students to travel to locations given on a Google map and record images and audio clips that capture the essence of each location, edit the files and upload to the class website. For assessment purposes I often utilize online rubric creation websites  to establish evaluative benchmarks for students.

References:
Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2010). Integrating educational technology into teaching. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

541 – Social Networking and the Walled Garden

The concept of walled gardens is not unique to the Internet and can be extended to include many examples through history where rules are made to protect us from ourselves. Censorship, in the guise of protection, is evident throughout history when governments or religious organizations have controlled the flow of information or eliminated the expression of perceived subversive ideas, usually with the intent of suppressing dissent.

Opponents for a free and open Internet in schools would argue that the potential is too great  for students misusing the capabilities of the web, inadvertently exposing themselves to victimization from Internet predators, or simply viewing inappropriate material. I would agree that the potential is there, however the question is, does this negative potential outweigh the potential impact for learning? In my opinion the potential benefit of an open and freely accessible Internet is greater than the risks. Students must be educated on Internet safety; they must be made aware of the dangers, how to protect themselves, and careful, age appropriate monitoring of their online behavior should be in place. Given these circumstances students can safely harness the potential of the web for learning.

One of the most common areas of restriction in “walled gardens” is social networks. Through the media, the public has been inundated with stories of situations where young people and adults have been exploited by cyber criminals found in social media websites such as Facebook, or Twitter. There is no doubt that these situations occur and sometimes with terrible consequences, however it all once again comes down to education and supervision. Restricting student access to social media in school translates, in the minds of students, to another example of how school life is not a reflection of real life. Using social media to connect students “both face to face and virtually, from a variety of backgrounds to work together to solve a common problem” (Cofino, 2009) has global impact, builds empathy, and creates cultural awareness that could not be achieved any other way.

As Jose Picardo states in an article titled: Microblogging: making the case for social networking in education, “More and more people, not just our students, are becoming aware of the power of belonging to a network: each individual member contributes a small part, so that the resulting body of knowledge is much greater than that which any individual member could have amassed on their own. This is why the social internet has become so successful: groups of people have clumped together forming networks, generally because of some sort of affinity or shared interest, and have started communicating and passing on information that matters to them” (Picardo, 2010). Blocking students from this type of opportunity in schools, when it is readily available everywhere else, seems counterproductive.

Schools should reflect the world we live in today. And we live in a social world. We need to teach students how to be effective collaborators in that world, how to interact with people around them, how to be engaged, informed twenty-first-century citizens. (Smith, 2007)

References:
Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2010). Integrating educational technology into teaching. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Smith, Fran. (2007) Edutopia.org. How to Use Social Networking Technology for Learning. Retreived March 6, 2012 from: http://www.edutopia.org/how-use-social-networking-technology

Cofino, Kim. (2009) Always Learning. How to Connect Your Students Globally. Retrieved March 6, 2012 from: http://kimcofino.com/blog/2009/10/04/how-to-connect-your-students-globally/

Picardo, Jose.(2010) Technology and Education Box of Tricks. Microblogging: Making the Case for Social Networking in Education. Retrieved March 6, 2012 from: http://www.boxoftricks.net/2010/02/microblogging-making-the-case-for-social-networking-in-education/

513 – Podcast

My podcast series will provide adult learners with weekly lessons on how to play the saxophone. The concept I have in mind would be targeting adults who always wanted to learn how to play an instrument, but don’t have time to take private lessons. The series start with an historical introduction to the instrument and the basics of putting it together, where to place the fingers and how to form the embouchure. With the podcast learners would be able to listen, pause, and playback segments with the goal of familiarizing the student and allowing them to produce a sound after the first episode. The podcast format will allow me to provide examples of what it should sound like for the learner to use as reference.

Subsequent episodes of the podcast would teach and demonstrate specific techniques of how to play the instrument, how and what to practice, and provide suggestions for artists and recordings to go to that demonstrate great technique and sound.

I have worked with music files and recording a great deal in the past, but had no idea you could create a podcast, host it in dropbox and have it subscribe-able in itunes. This technique has some real potential for my classroom instruction. Currently I have students create podcasts on a variety of topics but we were uploading them to their student website; this way we can collect and maintain a class set of podcasts hosted on itunes that we can all subscribe to…awesome!