Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Using Technology as a Creative Tool

The current instructional problem I would like to discuss is a disconnect that faculty have today with media and technology, and how that translates to denying students exposure to new multimedia experience.

In a paper written by Tina Seidel, there seems to be a lack of training when it comes to student teachers on how to integrate video into their curriculum (57). My experience during my career as a student and as a staff member at UTSA is that educators are not as comfortable with technology as their students. Donna G. Wake wrote about how even though schools do see Digital Storytelling as a powerful way to bring students out of their shells, it is still a difficult task for teachers to integrate technology into their instruction (34). I think one of the main reasons is that, plainly enough, technology is a very difficult concept to grasp, especially if you haven’t done a multimedia project on your own. Inexperience seems to be an issue.

Another of the issues that I have seen is that professors do not want to change their curriculum in order to dovetail with multimedia/online courses. They may have an online presence, but most of the materials that will be covered in the assessments are based on classroom lectures. Michelle A. Drouin found this correlation between posting recorded video lectures online adversely affected attendance and achievement in the course that was being studied (17). However, this seemed to stem from the fact that the material was following the textbook very closely, so students were not incentivized to show up for class. The online material was basically a video recording of the live lecture, so students assumed they could get it from the book. Therefore, it was questioned whether or not the videos played a large part in the lack of achievement in the course.

Conversely, a study by Yi He shows the opposite effect (1132). The study focused on online video tutorials that were offered to students in a Chemistry course. The students were grouped into three parts: Above Average, Average, and Struggling. The best response was received from the Average and Struggling student group, who used the videos to understand problems and concepts they had not grasped before viewing the videos. This positive response was shown by higher grades. Using the multimedia as a supplement to live lectures seemed to the big difference from this study and the study by Drouin.

Ashley Thesen postulates that it is the educators’ duty, not choice, to introduce technology to create digital narratives (100). Thesen wrote of introducing animation, background music, storyboarding, writing, and other highly sophisticated methods of pre-production and production with second and third grade students. I strongly believe that in order for students to embrace “educational technology”, students need experience the creative freedom they can get from the technology, first. Thesen discusses how teachers should encourage children to write stories about previous experiences, images, and ideas, and the teacher would act as the “principle storyteller”, guiding students in proper story structure (94). Technology should be introduced to young children as an artistic tool, not as a rote process to regurgitate data to a roomful of bored fellow students.