Sunday, June 27, 2010

Increasing Student Learning through Multimedia Projects

Increasing Student Learning through Multimedia Projects by Michael Simkins, Karen Cole, Fern Tavalin, and Barbara Means.

#1: Project-based learning, in itself - is a transformation in teaching that allows both the student and teacher to reach beyond simple "knowledge" to the meaning and critical thinking that supports the growth, development and construction of knowledge. Personally, this is the foundation of my philosophy of teaching as it addresses student-centered learning, authentic learning and assessment FOR learning, not the traditional approach of assessing one's ability to memorize useless facts. While the introduction/foreword to this book identifies project based learning as being "key" to transformation of the education process for both students and teachers, the multimedia factor is the perfect complement to this shift in learning. 21st Century skills require that students have the ability to not only use 21st century tools, but make decisions, problem solve and think with these tools in the workplace. Project Based Multimedia learning is the prime environment for this to take place!

#2 Importance of the Technology Learning Coordinator:
This book was based on this "technology innovation challenge grants" that was funded by the US Department of Education called the Challenge 2000 Multimedia Project. This ended up being an "award winning porgram." After reading through the details of the project I have my own considerations as to why it was so successful which includes:
  • Clearly Defined Target: Infuse classrooms with an exemplary model of project based multimedia learning.
  • Combined efforts of "interested" participants: The teachers involved in this project were interested in participating, not told they had to do it. Teachers/school coordinators were chiefly responsible but they had...
  • Consistent/regular activities: summer institute, monthly workshops, online discussions, everyone contributed to the website.
The most powerful component, as I view it from my experience, is the TECHNOLOGY LEARNING COORDINATOR. This is the main support/liason for the teacher. In this case it was an "early adopter" teacher who was able to assume the role using funds from the grant. After working in several school districts as a technology integration specialist / instructional technology specialist - I am a strong proponent for having a technology learning coordinator in all school buildings as a support mechanism for the integration of technology.

#3: Authentic learning experiences: While describing various use of images, on page 16, there is reference to copyright. As part of using images, a lesson on copyright; fairuse and plagiarism could be incorporated into the experience either by getting permission to use the material, citing the material and using only what conforms with fair use. This is just one example of how project based learning allows students to engage in "real-life" experiences during the learning process.

#4: Technology Curriculum? While reading Chapter 5, which speaks to planning and implementing the project the note about "using technology they already know" prompts me to revisit the thinking I have about incorporating some sort of standard for technology in the curriculum for grades K on up.... Even thought technology changes so quickly that narrowly defining tech units/skills could be counterproductive, it is fair to say that there are some constants that could be implemented methodically into the curriculum and if all grade level teachers could agree on just one unit that integrates such technology in each grade, all students could have exposure (and if they increased the frequency, some reliable skill) to the same technology. Therefore, it would be easier at any grade level to consider what might the students already know and what would be a good "next step."

#5: Assessment Activities - Whole Class Design Review: Informally this past year, working with student on a wiki project for their country study unit, I found myself in the classrooms doing something like this but not preplanned for formal. Although I will be revisiting and evaluating and implementing many of the suggestions from Chapters 5 & 6, this particular assessment activity will be a must do. I did note how the students responded to eachother and also that it gave many visual learners ideas and clarity. As a teacher I learned from students new ways that our pages could be represented and what might be confusing and not. Please see page 88 for mor details.

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