Monday, July 29, 2013

Using multimedia approach in education

Roger Slack in his article ‘PEDACTICE - The Use of Multimedia in Schools’ which was published in September, 1999, comments that the growth of information and communication technology (ICT) in society is reflected in policies to encourage the use of ICT in education and the development of educational multimedia. As the role of educational multimedia increases, it is increasingly important to have an idea of the potential it affords for teaching and learning.

Multimedia, as per Pearson’s website, can be defined generically as any combination of two or more media such as sound, images, text, animation, and video. For educational technology purposes, multimedia refers to computer-based systems that use associative linkages to allow users to navigate and retrieve information stored in a combination of text, sounds, graphics, video, and other media. 

According to Muhammad Asif in his paper titled ‘Multimedia in Education’, multimedia combines five basic types of media into learning environment: text, video, sound, graphics and animation, thus providing a powerful new tool for education.

Asif further argues that the world is changing rapidly and the field of education is experiencing these changes in particular as it applies to Media Services. The old days of an educational institution having an isolated audio-visual department are long gone! The growth in use of multimedia within the education sector has accelerated in recent years, and looks set for continued expansion in the future.

This article reviews the development and use of multimedia technologies in education. Particular emphasis is put on the instructional uses of multimedia. Interest and investment in this technology are increasing, and indications are that it has appeal to both teachers and students. 

It has been argued by many scholars that Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences establishes a theoretical framework for using multimedia in instruction. His theory relates to other widely recognized theories on learning styles and modalities of learning. 

Multimedia literacy is a growing concern among educators as societies worldwide continues to depend on image technologies such as television, video, and film. Educators need to prepare children to live and function in a society that relies on multimedia for information storage and dissemination. 

Multimedia can be used in instruction in a variety of creative and stimulating ways. Applications include teacher presentations, student projects, and discovery learning. Although teachers are encouraged to develop their own materials, many excellent educational multimedia products are also available. 

There are a number of reasons for arguments which supports incorporation of multimedia in classrooms. A paper titled ‘10 Reasons to Use Multimedia in the Classroom’ authored by Barbara Schroeder on August 4, 2010, provides a number of arguments towards use of multimedia in classroom.

By incorporating multimedia in their instruction, teachers can capture attention, engage learners, explain difficult concepts, inspire creativity, and have fun. However, there are many tools available and many ways to use those tools. 

PBS Teachers website comments that utilization of multimedia resources is very essential because they offer the following advantages:

(a) Portability: with multimedia, learning can happen anytime, anywhere. Students can listen to a podcast or view a vodcast at home, in the car or on a field trip. These tools are great ways to reinforce concepts and enable students to learn in context;

(b) Flexibility: today’s resources let you demonstrate concepts and lessons in ways that textbooks and classroom lectures alone can’t. Teaching about DNA? With multimedia, you can have students research DNA online, bring world-renowned scientists into your classroom with podcast lectures, show a 3D computer model of a DNA strand and then have students design their own strand.

(c) Individualized Learning: multimedia resources can help you meet the needs of many different types of learners Visual learners can watch an online video, while auditory learners listen to streaming audio and hands-on learners play an interactive game. Students who need extra practice can use these tools again and again.

(d) Collaboration and Community Building: blogs, social networking sites and wikis allow students to interact with and teach each other, not only within their own school, but with learners across the country and the world as well.

(e) A Broader View of the World: multimedia resources can help your students experience today’s global community. With multimedia, students can learn about new cultures and countries in immediate and authentic ways – and prepare to interact with that broader community in an increasingly collaborative global job market.

In addition, multimedia activities encourage students to work in groups, express their knowledge in multiple ways, solve problems, revise their own work, and construct knowledge. The advantages of integrating multimedia in the classroom are many. Through participation in multimedia activities, briefly, students can learn: 
(a) Real-world skills related to technology; 
(b) The value of teamwork; 
(c) Effective collaboration techniques; 
(d) The impact and importance of different media; 
(e) The challenges of communicating to different audiences; 
(f) How to present information in compelling ways; 
(g) Techniques for synthesizing and analyzing complex content; 
(h) The importance of research, planning, and organization skills; 
(i) The significance of presentation and speaking skills; 
(j) How to accept and provide constructive feedback; 
(k) How to express their ideas creatively;
As you can see from these ideas, you can easily align instructional goals and empower instruction through using appropriate multimedia tools. It takes some planning, time, and expenditures (video cameras, software), but in the long run, your students will reap many benefits, such as taking more responsibility for their learning, becoming aware of their learning and how to document it, and realizing their own creative potential.
It should be noted that there are some constraints to using multimedia in the classroom, which any teacher should take into account during decision making on using multimedia in you classroom, including: 
(a) Technological resources, both hardware and software;
(b) Technological skills, for both the students and teacher; 
(c) Time required planning, designing, developing, and evaluating multimedia activities. 
As the role of multimedia increases and policy drives ICT use to the heart of education, it is increasingly important to have an idea of the potentialities afforded by multimedia for teaching and learning.
It is very crucial to builds on teacher competence and experience to consider the implications of multimedia in education, at policy, resource, system development and use levels.
With increased ICT and multimedia literacy among students it is important that teachers gain an understanding of what multimedia can do in the classroom context.
The writer is a specialist in education management, planning, economics of education and policy studies, and can be reached at: +255754304181 or 

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