Multimedia in Education: A Student’s Perspective

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“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”
– Chinese philosopher and reformer, Confucius (551 BC to 479 BC)

In college classes, media is often viewed as a distraction for students, but the reality is that integrating multimedia activities into both online and traditional classes can have an incredible impact on the way students learn. Among other things, it can create context, motivate discussions and lock in concepts to ultimately enhance a students’ learning experience.

A Student’s Journey into Online Learning

I took my first online class in 2017 and I have to admit that I was apprehensive about how it would work out. My initial thought was that I would not be able to grasp different concepts because of the literal distance between myself, my peers and my professor. Surprisingly, I barely felt the distance while taking the course mainly because of how we were able to ask questions and get prompt responses, as well as having additional information being made available to us on the course website.  What made my online experience even better was how my instructor incorporated media into the fabric of the course.

Video: It’s Not Just for Lectures

Other than simply using video to deliver lectures, my online professors incorporated media in various ways to engage me and my peers. These examples ranged from embedded movie clips, to the use of video to provide historical context of reading, to VoiceThread discussions that allows students to leave comments in voice or video. My instructors’ various uses of multimedia made my online learning experience incredibly interactive and engaging, which is often lost in traditional classroom settings, especially in higher education. Despite what many think, it’s easy for students to fly under the radar and avoid actively participating in traditional classroom discussions, mainly because there are so many students in the room. In online classes, or traditional classrooms enhanced with online components, students need to participate in discussions because they are graded by their contributions, posts and responses.

Suggestions For Getting Started with Media

I understand that there may be some constraints to implementing multimedia into your course – like understanding how to use the technology and the extra time it requires.  Luckily, there are multiple ways to get started. Instructors could share a film clip from YouTube, a song recording, or an online educational video (from Khan Academy or CrashCourse).  Another idea is to have students create their own media. For example, students could create video presentations or record video comments in an activity designed with VoiceThread. All of these examples are powerful learning tools.

Media can be used to introduce  a concept to give students some context before diving. Or it can be used after learning a concept as a way for students to apply what they’ve learned and develop their analytical skills. It can even be incorporated both before AND after a traditional lesson.

Ultimately, when and where to introduce media depends on where you think will most effectively enhance your students’ learning. If you would like new ideas, ask your students for their input. This would be a great way to not only engage them, but also to empower them.  Incorporating student feedback into your class shows your students that their ideas are appreciated. It could even boost their morale in the class going forward.

Posted in A8: Student Centered Teaching, Blog, Course Design Showcase, Rubric Section A.

Dineo is a graduate of Southwestern College and is currently an undergraduate Comparative Literature student at San Diego State University.

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