Multimedia usage within the classroom: Four mini case studies

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Apple iBook

Remember the once-popular education games Oregon Trail and Sim City? Thankfully it can no longer be debated; multimedia has officially (and finally!) re-entered the classroom.

Companies and teachers have been trying for years to bring education into the 21st century. It is still very much an initiative in the making, but I have been reading more and more about efforts such as Apple’s strategic shift into the education market that aren’t just baby steps to educational reform. Let’s learn about four such initiatives and what it means for the future of academia.

The four examples below are only a few of the countless innovations that are happening within this sector. In my opinion, Discovery Education has made the largest impact thus far. It doesn’t need to be Fortune 500 companies that help make this transformation happen, though. Community-wide programs and forward-thinking teachers can act on their own. I’m constantly reminded of the Abraham Lincoln Facebook lesson where teachers asked students to envision what Lincoln would put on his Facebook profile if he were still alive. What a fun and engaging way to learn about history! I also recently watched an inspirational TED talk, shown below, by teacher John Hunter who taught students about war and international conflict by allowing them to play a massive Risk-like game.

Wilmington Community Digital Storytelling Collaboration Introduces Students to Storytelling

In Wilmington North Carolina, the Watson School of Education has partnered with the Boys and Girls Club and utilized a dropout prevention grant from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) to develop a seven-week storytelling summer program. “With the grant funds from the NCDPI we assembled ‘kits’ (backpacks, actually) which included a laptop computer, iPad, GPS unit, digital cameras, digital voice recorder, headset/microphone, mouse, mouse pad, and tripod,” wrote Chandra Roughton, a UNCW graduate student working on this initiative.

The program has since evolved to partner with other local organizations and is now known as the Wilmington Community Digital Storytelling Collaboration. Tools they utilize for video production are Photo Story 3, Animoto, GoAnimate!, and Windows Movie Maker. Their favorite apps are Videolicious, Sock Puppet, and Story Robe. “We have also used the Garage band app on the iPad so that the kids can create their own music for their videos,” Roughton wrote.

Currently they are finalists for a $5,000 “Emerging Issues Prize for Innovation.” I encourage you to watch their video submission (Digital Storytelling – UNC-Wilmington and At&T State University), view the other finalists, and vote for your favorite to help reduce drop-out rates across North Carolina.

NFB Launches Educational Resource CAMPUS

I can’t speak more highly of National Film Board of Canada (NFB). They have recently launched CAMPUS, aka “the new online media solution for today’s classroom.” Currently only available in Canada, NFB is providing 2,500 of its productions to educators, 500 of which were produced strictly for classroom use. “CAMPUS also enables educators to prepare clips in advance online―selecting excerpts, labelling them and adding comments and questions―while chapters and playlists make it easier than ever to present media in class.” I can only hope that they roll this out to the U.S. and other countries in the near future!

Lenovo Launches Android App Programming Course

I’m currently working at Lenovo, where I recently learned about their partnership with the National Academy Foundation to provide a 12-week Android app programming course within five high schools across the U.S. this semester, with the goal of integrating it into 70 schools by next fall. More importantly, the course curriculum and materials will be available for free online so that any teacher or school can launch a similar initiative. Based on a study conducted by Lenovo and reported by US News, 80% of students wish to learn how to create their own apps.

Apple Partners with Education Publishers to Digitize Academia

The wording describing the iBooks leaves me speechless: “A Multi-Touch textbook on iPad is a gorgeous, full-screen experience full of interactive diagrams, photos, and videos. No longer limited to static pictures to illustrate the text, now students can dive into an image with interactive captions, rotate a 3D object, or have the answer spring to life in a chapter review. They can flip through a book by simply sliding a finger along the bottom of the screen. Highlighting text, taking notes, searching for content, and finding definitions in the glossary are just as easy. And with all their books on a single iPad, students will have no problem carrying them wherever they go.”

Unfortunately the price of an iPad will likely prevent full integration within primary and secondary schools. If I were Apple, I’m not sure I would have started this initiative within the K-12 market. Rather, why not work with universities who are less price sensitive and whose students are more likely to purchase their own device rather than relying on the institution to provide it for them? I have noticed more of my classmates buying tablets versus PCs for use within the classroom. Highschool students, on the other hand, do not have as much purchasing power since their parents many times make the purchasing decisions on their behalf.

Where Do We Go From Here?

There is always room for improvement and as technology advances, so will efforts at bringing that technology into the classroom. Former II guest blogger Lynn Marentette does an exceptional job keeping up with academic multimedia trends over at her blog Interactive Multimedia Technology. On that note, make sure to read her recent post on Google’s foray into the academic market. What other innovative examples have you noticed regarding multimedia usage within the classroom?


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