8 Ways Technology Is Improving Education
Part 4November 22, 2010 by Sarah Kessler
6. Storytelling and Multimedia
Knezek recently saw a video that was produced by a group of elementary students about Bernoulli’s Principle. In the video, the students demonstrated the principle that makes flight possible by taking two candles and putting them close together, showing that blowing between them brings the flames closer together. For another example, they hung ping pong balls from the ceiling and they pulled together.
“With a simple assignment and access to technology, researching and also producing a product that would communicate, they were able to do deep learning on a concept that wasn’t even addressed in their textbook, and allow other people to view it and learn from it,” Knezek says.
Asking children to learn through multimedia projects is not only an excellent form of project-based learning that teaches teamwork, but it’s also a good way to motivate students who are excited to create something that their peers will see. In addition, it makes sense to incorporate a component of technology that has become so integral to the world outside of the classroom.
“It’s no longer the verbal logic or the spoken or written word that causes people to make decisions,” Knezek says. “Where you go on vacations, who you vote for, what kind of car you buy, all of those things are done now with multimedia that engage all of the senses and cause responses.”
Despite students’ apparent preference for paper textbooks, proponents like Daytona College and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger are ready to switch to digital. And electronic textbook vendors like CourseSmart are launching to help them.
E-books hold an unimaginable potential for innovating education, though as some schools have already discovered, not all of that potential has been realized yet.
“A digital textbook that is merely a PDF on a tablet that students can carry around might be missing out on huge possibilities like models and simulations or visualizations,” Dorsey says. “It takes time and it really takes some real thought to develop those things, and so it would be easy for us as a society to miss out on those kinds of opportunities by saying, ‘Hey look, we’re not carrying around five textbooks anymore. It’s all on your iPad, isn’t that great?’”
8. Epistemic Games
Epistemic games put students in roles like city planner, journalist, or engineer and ask them to solve real-world problems. The Epistemic Games Group has provided several examples of how immersing students in the adult world through commercial game-like simulations can help students learn important concepts.
In one game, students are cast as high-powered negotiators who need to decide the fate of a real medical controversy. In another, they must become graphical artists in order to create an exhibit of mathematical art in the style of M.C. Escher. Urban Science, the game featured in the above video, assigns students the task of redesigning Madison, Wisconsin.
“Creative professionals learn innovative thinking through training that is very different from traditional academic classrooms because innovative thinking means more than just knowing the right answers on a test,” explains The Epistemic Games Group’s website. “It also means having real-world skills, high standards and professional values, and a particular way of thinking about problems and justifying solutions. Epistemic games are about learning these fundamental ways of thinking for the digital age."