Do you remember that feeling when the teacher rolled the TV cart into the classroom? It meant excitement, entertainment, and relief for our ears and minds that were struggling to consume chunks of information.
Multimedia has changed over the years - from glass slides and transparencies to PowerPoints and videos to virtual reality. With each step forward, student engagement has increased. What’s the result of using multimedia in the classroom? Greater learning potential.
The Florida Center for Instructional Technology lists a number of advantages to using multimedia in the classroom, including: gaining real-world skills, learning the value of teamwork, practicing effective collaboration and communication skills, analyzing and synthesizing complex ideas, and expressing creative thoughts. This list, while comprehensive, is just the tip of the iceberg. Multimedia, particularly in the hands of our students, shifts the power and focus of the classroom. Students get to take the lead and demonstrate their knowledge through creative, constructivist avenues. Like with any form of technology, there are some concerns to consider; however, the benefits far outweigh the concerns.
In terms of real-world skills, multimedia gives students the opportunity to learn and practice valuable technical skills. As society becomes more and more digital and technology-centered, technical skills are no longer a bonus skill but a required one. The world expects students to graduate high school with certain skills, and now, those skills must have a strong backbone in technology. By integrating multimedia into the classroom, we are helping our students to learn those skills.
It seems like teamwork and collaboration have been educational buzz words for as long as I can remember. Teamwork and collaboration? Aren’t those the skills that students learn through sports and during P.E.? Multimedia and technology integration provide excellent opportunities for students to learn, practice, and perfect those skills in the classroom. Through collaborative technologies, like the Google Suite, students can easily create, collaborate, and critique all in one place. Creating a group presentation has never been easier! Multimedia assignments also give students a way to contribute their different talents to a group. Movie makers, artists, actors, and word nerds alike can combine their strengths to create and produce movies. As a student, collaborating to create interpretation-based movies are some of my fondest memories. I’ll never forget acting out and editing my group’s interpretation of Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.
During those collaborative assignments, students also learn how to communicate their ideas, thoughts, and criticisms effectively. The two-fold benefit of learning communication skills through multimedia is that students can practice communicating face-to-face as well as through digital environments.
Creating multimedia like presentations, movies, vlogs, and graphics gives students the opportunity to analyze, synthesize, and express complex ideas through non-traditional means. Every student is different. Multimedia gives each student a platform to relay their understanding or navigate complex waters using an individualized method. Rather than writing a detailed report on a topic, students can create an infographic or animation or even an original piece of art.
Finally, multimedia gives students the freedom to express themselves creatively. As a middle school teacher, my room is filled with color. Not by my own doing though. My students are constantly drawing and showing their creativity and understanding of a character through non-traditional or different means. By teaching my students to use multimedia, I am giving them another avenue to express themselves and their knowledge.
So, what are the advantages of using multimedia in the classroom? Multimedia offers a whole new world. It gives us, as teachers, the opportunity to shake off the rust of traditional instructivist methods and embrace constructivism. What’s the reason that I use it? It helps me to see my students’ personalities and understanding through a different lens. It helps me to help them.