Posted by: Ellie Kutz | December 16, 2011

Overview: Multimedia for Teaching and Learning

This issue of the UMass Boston Educational Technology Newsletter focuses on the use of multimedia in higher education, offering an exploration from my own point of view as a faculty member who has gradually learned to incorporate more media in my own teaching but without a clear rationale or a coherent plan.I begin the issue with a reflection on my own experience, as a learner (attending a recent lecture) and as a teacher (in some of the attempts I’ve made thus far). As I reflected on those experiences, however, I quickly realized that I didn’t actually know whether there was any evidence that incorporating different media contributes to student learning in significant ways, so I asked the question “Why Multimedia” and tried to find some answers about when and how the use of multimedia in teaching has been shown to be effective.
I also decided to learn from the example of some of my colleagues who are leading the way: I visited (virtually, through Blackboard) some classes taught by David Pruett of the Performing Arts Department who has been integrating images and sound in the lectures for his music courses and capturing these multimedia classroom sessions (re-mediating them) to make them available in Blackboard for his students’  later review. I attended a presentation given by Mary Brady of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction who shared videotapes her students had made of lessons they taught as student teachers and spoke of the multiple ways in which videotaping has been effective in their learning. I attended meetings in which faculty who have been using a multimedia tool, VoiceThread, shared and discussed their students’ work with this tool and  attended presentations about that work given by Tracy Brown (ESL), Kayo Yushito (Modern Languages), and Susan Mraz (Hispanic Studies). Finally, from presentations, workshops, and conversations, I learned more about what our support folks and media specialists in the Digital Learning Studio (Jessica Downa, John Mazzarella, Mary Simone) have to teach us and the resources and support that they can provide for us as we continue on our own media pathways. While I feel somewhat daunted by how much more there is to learn, I feel, at the same time, reassured that none of us have to undertake this journey unsupported.
I also want to note that, as we consider the value of using multimedia not only to support our teaching but also to make what we learn available to others, we’ve been trying to record more of the forums and teaching events that are cosponsored by CIT and Educational Technology.
Videos of two of our Fall 2011 forums have been posted on the UMass/Boston YouTube channel:
Fostering Peer Learning with Social Media on October 5, 2011  featured Bill Hagar (Biology) on supporting student collaboration in science gateway seminars with Wikispaces, and Alex Mueller (English) on online collaboration for peer review.

Engaging Students with Technology on November 7, 2011 featured Lynnell Thomas (American Studies) on engaging students using Blackboard’s discussion features, Anamarija Frankic (EEOS) on how developing a website has supported students’ community-based environmental projects, and Tracy Brown (ESL) on her uses of VoiceThread and other media to help strengthen students speaking and listening skills.

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