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Winthrop EDUC 275 - Sample Activities for Learning in a Digital Age

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Examples of Digital Learning | Page 1 of 10 Sample Activities for Learning in a Digital Age Dr. Marshall G. Jones Winthrop University Introduction You need to understand a distinction. There is a difference between learning from technology and learning with technology. Learning from technology can be a passive activity. Examples of this would be watching a video, reading an article on a web page, or listening to an audio recording, such as a Pod-cast. There is nothing wrong with learning from technology. It is a way to communicate information to learners. And if we take Gagne’s 4th event of instruction seriously, we can present the information with features that are so distinctive that it will make it easier for learners to remember what is going on. Learning from technology is near the top of the Cone of Experience (Dale, 1969) and provides information in an abstract and iconic representation. You can likely think of many ways that learning can happen from technology. Learning with technology is when learners are actively engaged in a learning problem while using technology to solve that problem. Examples of this would be rather than having the learner watch a video, the learner might create the video. Rather than having a learner read a webpage the learner might create a web page. And rather than having a learner download and listen to a Pod-cast they might actually create the Pod-cast for others. It follows quite naturally that if a learner is going to be learning with technology by creating a video that the learner will have to likely be learning from technology by doing research in order to do all the components of creating a video, such as writing the script, creating the props, or organizing the scenes. Learning with technology is not an idea that is original to me. It is has been a long time coming. I do call it active, participatory learning (PAL, nice acronym, isn’t it? Let technology be your PAL?), but this has its roots in problem based learning (Harris, In Press), Mindtools (Jonassen, 1999) Leggo – Logo (Papert, 1980), and, truth be told, all the way back to the Greeks and the original notion of techné (Saettler, 1990) to name but a handful of people and ideas. The purpose of this article is to introduce a few of the ways you can create activities that allow people to learn with technology. The list is far from exhaustive, and the projects listed here can overlap, lead in to each other, and support one another. After reading these project descriptions you should begin thinking of ways that you could modify them for your own curricular area. You should also begin thinking of completely new and original activities for learning with technology.Examples of Digital Learning | Page 2 of 10 Digital Video What it is Today’s computers are all capable of creating digital video. Digital video, as a description, is when you shoot your video with a digital video camera and then download the video from the camera to the computer for editing. Digital video cameras work exactly like analog video cameras. The only difference is that the digital video camera captures the signal in a format that can be moved to the computer for editing. Digital video is moved through either a USB connection (USB2 is preferred because of its speed) or through an IEEE 1394 connection (this is also called Firewire or iLink). You then use specialized software on the computer to edit the video. Video editing on a computer allows you to delete parts of a single scene or to delete an entire scene. Editing allows you to remove live audio recorded with the video and to put a new audio track over the video and to add background music to either live audio or voice over narration. Video editing also allows you to add titles and credits, or subtitles to a video. While professional video editing for long format video (like the movies) is done with software such as Apple’s Final Cut Pro, or the Window’s based Adobe Premier Pro, consumer level video editing software is available for free on all new computers. On the Macintosh iMovie is available for free on every new computer, and on the PC Window’s Movie Maker is available for free on every new computer. Both pieces of software work pretty much the same way: you have a clip window where your video scenes show up, a time line for organizing and editing your clips or scenes, and a preview window where you can see what you have done. When video is completed it can be saved as a file that can be seen on a computer, such as a Quicktime file (.mov extension and the Macintosh default) or a Windows Media Video (.wmv and the Windows default), be exported to video tape, or, if the computer has a DVD – burner, be written to a standard DVD disc. How it relates to learning with technology One reason to use video in the classroom is not for students to create award winning movies (even though they might), but rather to provide the students with another way to show that they have met the curriculum standards. This relates to the issue in Universal Designs for Learning (O’Neill, 2001), Multiple options for expressing knowledge. Another reason for doing a project like digital video is that it helps us move further to the base of Dale’s Cone of Experience (Dale, 1969) to create direct purposeful activities in an attempt to make learning less abstract and more concrete. Video production requires a lot of work before anybody can shoot a single scene. Video can be time and resource intensive, so it is best to have learners working in groups. Research must be done on the topic, scripts must be written, costumes and props, if needed must be researched, located and created, and the production schedule must be set up. Even a short video of five to ten minutes can require a great deal of planning. Therefore, the creation of the video means that learners must spend a great deal of time with the content as they plan the movie, as they create the movie, and as they edit the movie for final distribution. Learning by creating video may be more constructivist in nature than learning from a video. By this I mean that when creating the video everybody will learn something, but everybody may not learn the same thing. Video production moves further down the Cone of Experience (Dale, 1969) to be more enactive (Bruner,Examples of Digital Learning | Page 3 of 10 1969). Because digital video can take a long time to do, it is best to use it with


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