Blended Learning in K-12/Types of Blended Learning/multimedia virtual internet
This section focuses on blended learning in the classroom with the use of multimedia and internet resources. This includes the use of videos, virtual field trips, interactive websites, software packages, and broadcasting.
Blended learning often requires a reliance on technology use in the classroom. Because there is often a lack of access to technology outside of school, blending learning for many students, must occur in the classroom. The use of the internet for blending learning is wonderful. However, if students do not have access outside of the school day, the blended learning must occur in the classroom. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) compiled information from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, October 2003. The NCES put together the results in “Trends in the Well-Being of American Youth." These results provided the following information concerning computer usage; 62.6% of people ages 3-14 have home access, 72.2% of people ages 15-19 have home access, and 59.6% of people ages 20-24 have home access. Because access in no age group is 100%, teachers can not reasonably expect students to access required work outside the class period without arrangements being made in advance for access. Because of this possible lack of access for students it is very important to accomplish blended learning in the class period by using videos or DVD's, virtual field trips, interactive websites, and broadcasting.
Blended learning can include technology as common place today as using a video/DVD clip, segment, or movie. What is a video? According to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (2002) the characteristics of video media are as follows
- Video is the medium that you…are most familiar with.
- Video can be distributed as “hard copy” on videocassette or DVD, digitized and delivered on the Web or CD, or distributed through specialized educational channels.
- Video is especially good at telling a story or showing things that require narrative structure or moving images.
- Video often has an emotional impact. It’s great at “taking you there and making you care.”
- Today, VCRs (or DVD players) are widely accessible in classrooms and informal educational settings.
Most commonly, teachers think of buying videos to aid in enhancing the knowledge of the students for a particular topic. What many do not consider is that videos can be created by presenters, administrators, teachers, or classes and can serve many other purposes.
“Video can breathe meaning and life into nearly any lesson” (KQED 2005). According to a site by KQED public broadcasting, videos:
- Provide a common experience for all students.
- Generate Interest and stimulate imagination.
- Offer a different perspective on or another approach to a topic.
- Connect students with faraway places.
- Demonstrate abstract ideas.
- Stimulate the development of critical thinking skills.
- Equalize educational opportunities.
- Enhance self-respect and break down social stereotypes.
- Promote critical viewing skills and media awareness.
Videos used in classroom settings, regardless who produced them, can be educational, promotional, training, event, and evaluative.
“Educational video is any video programming that contributes to the teaching/learning environment” (Lamb, Johnson 2002). The videos that are used to contribute to the classroom environment can cover any subject matter ranging from science to religion to business. These videos traditionally are the most common and they serve to introduce new topics or to reinforce previously learned topics.
Promotional videos are often used for companies trying to explain themselves or their products (Hotwire Media n.d.). These types of videos are not limited to the corporate world; they can have classroom uses as well. Teachers often are promoters of their product be it subject matter or classroom management. Using a self made or purchased promotional video can help explain teachers, the classroom, and the subject matter to the consumers of the products. Students.
Training videos are “Often targeted at a more specific audience than an educational film, and for use within a particular environment, video based training can add interest to any topic or process…” (Hotwire Media n.d.). Again, this type of video may be used more often in the corporate world, but they also can serve a purpose in a classroom. There are many processes that are taught and interest could be gained with a training video. The process of check writing is complicated for some, see the process unfold in a video could increase the knowledge and interest of the process. This would save instructional time and provide more time for the teacher to work one-on-one with students needing further instruction.
Events videos allow for a …”permanent audio-visual record of the event… (and allows teachers to) present the event to those not in attendance, or be used as a basis for discussion and evaluation” (Hotwire Media n.d.). Students giving presentations in class, or a guest speaker, would be examples of events in the classroom. This type of video would be student or teacher created. Absent students could view the events and not have lost any information from the day.
Evaluation videos and events videos can go hand in hand. Once the event video has been made of the class presentations, students and the teacher can refer back to the event video to evaluate the presentations. This can be a wonderful tool for teachers, allowing them to focus and really pay attention to the presenters, not grading the presentation as it goes. It can also be a wonderful for students, allowing them to look back at the event video and evaluate their own presentations.
Virtual Field Trips
Blended learning "Virtual Field Trips can be used in any number of ways to serve a variety of educational goals" (Tramline 2003). Fieldtrips have been a method of blending the learning and teaching methods of a class for a many years. The reality of funding shortages force schools to remain on campus. Using blended learning through the virtual fieldtrip is a wonderful opportunity. The virtual fieldtrip experience is an excellent model of a teaching strategy that was not possible before the advent of computers in the (school) classroom (Beal & Mason 1999). Going on a field trip has usually meant taking students out of the school building for some purpose. Today, due to budget restraints and other issues, it is becoming more and more difficult to take students out of the classroom to see things first hand. Schools with computer and internet access have the opportunity to go on fieldtrips with out spending any additional money or ever leaving the school building. “Virtual fieldtrips benefit students, families, schools, teachers, and communities” (Beal & Mason 1999). Virtual fieldtrips can take students to places they have personally visited, will be personally visiting. Once the virtual fieldtrip has been posted to the web, it is available to all people, any time, day or night (Tramline 2003). Virtual fieldtrips of all kinds are available, post-fieldtrip activity, pre-fieldtrip activity, fieldtrips made by others (not the teacher), and fieldtrips created by the teacher (Beal & Mason 1999).
The post-fieldtrip activity, as discussed by Beal and Mason (1999), blends student work, technologies, and locations involving student activities before, during, and after the fieldtrip. Before leaving for the “in person” field trip, assign each student or group with a particular task or subject matter area. Before and or during the trip, each person is responsible for gathering information of their assigned area. While on the fieldtrip, they are to gather information as well as pictures. Upon returning to the classroom, students are to compile their information and pictures into a presentation multimedia, which one depends on what is available to the students. Once each student or group has created their portion of the fieldtrip, the parts should be combined so that all students can view the virtual field trip and gain the same information. This field trip could then be used by other virtual visitors in the future if it is posted on the web.
Second is the fieldtrip category that addresses the blended learning virtual aspect (Beal & Mason 1999). With this pre-fieldtrip activity, the students go on a virtual fieldtrip created by someone else (partially the third category) before they leave their school building. Seeing the sites prior to their own arrival will give students insight and knowledge that might be missed during their visit. A pre-fieldtrip virtual fieldtrip can also give students a greater appreciation for what they will be seeing upon their arrival.
The third blended learning virtual fieldtrip requires the students to never leave the building and to use the computer and internet. The students "go" on the fieldtrip made by others and are able to gather information from places they can not visit in person as a class (Beal & Mason 1999). With the ability to go on a virtual fieldtrip, the places students can go are nearly endless. There are free virtual fieldtrips that can take students to every continent on earth. The locations range from a trip to a zoo, government agency, foreign museums, and national monuments and parks, just to name a few. The preparation on the teachers part is much less cumbersome than the preparation necessary to take students out of the school building and often the students learn just as much if not more in the computer lab.
Fourth, is the virtual fieldtrip with the blended learning created by the classroom teacher (Beal & Mason 1999). Teachers often take advantage of opportunities in the summer to go to conferences or seminars where trips are included or just parts of their own vacations. Teachers can put together the newly acquired information with pictures and create a virtual fieldtrip for their students for a much easier process and lesser cost than taking all the students out of the school building.
Blended learning oftentimes includes the use of interactive websites. The use of interactive web sites requires computer and internet access in the school. These sites provide another opportunity for teachers to use technology in their classroom, thus promoting blended learning. Interactive websites can be utilized within the class for those students who do not have internet access and can give other students the opportunity to expand knowledge if access is available privately. For these purposes, when we use the web, we are referring to the Internet. According to Dictionary.com WordNet 2.0 fro Princeton University, interactive is defined as “capable of acting on or influencing each other” (20032). When we put these two descriptions together we come to the conclusion that web/interactive is when people are capable of acting on or influencing the web. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting Web/Interactive (2002) provides three characteristics of web/interactive media.
- They are not time-restricted and are not subject to a broadcast schedule.
- They are visual, textual, and interactive.
- They are nonlinear.
Blended learning web/interactive sites have elements within in them that allow people to act on or influence particular items on a particular page. The different elements allow influencing in different ways. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting Web/Interactive Media Elements (2002) addresses ten different web/interactive media elements. These ten elements are
- Animated Narratives-reveal information progressively or along a user-determined path.
- Audio and Video-voice and pictures (still or moving)
- Discussion Environments-being able to share submissions with the larger audience.
- Games-fun, and there may be a way to “win,” even though an educational agenda may be lurking within.
- Illustrated Essays-“standard” Web pages of HTML text and graphics, least expensive type of Web page to produce.
- Interactive Images-graphic features let users roll their cursor over or click on an image to provide greater text or graphic detail.
- Interactive Simulations-computer-assisted explorations allow users to simulate real-world situations.
- Interactive Timelines-present historical information in the context of other events of the period, organize events thematically, and allow users to read synopses and view images of people or artifacts.
- Polls and Provocations-engage users in a controversy, requiring them to consider both sides of arguments before registering their opinion.
- Resource Banks-annotated collections let users browse or search through carefully selected topical resources.
Blended learning with multimedia enhances both the teaching and learning processes. Blended learning with multimedia can take the shape of software available at school. Thousands of educational software packages exist on the market ranging from early reading and math skills to specific high school textbook supplements. The following is a continually growing list and brief overview of various educational software packages available for general reference and use, as well as specifically for Elementary, Middle School, and High School age groups.
- Accelerated Math is a self-paced math learning program that helps students practice and master math skills. Teachers can tailor Accelerated Math to each student’s individual ability. Accelerated Math automatically scores all assignments and tests and give both students and teacher immediate feedback.
- Accelerated Reader Program motivates students to read by tracking progress with book quizzes. Students improve their reading skills as they progress throughout the Accelerated Reader book lists. Teachers can utilize the book assessments and progress reporting generated by Accelerated Reader to track student progress and make book recommendations.
- Encyclopedia Britannica Ultimate Reference Suite provides research level knowledge source. New features include Daily Content which serves up fascinating historical snapshots for the knowledge junkie and Homework Helpdesk: powerful tools for students.
- Microsoft Encarta provides an encyclopedia, dictionary, atlas, and other educational reference materials. Encarta tools for students bring the world into the classroom with engaging and reliable content.
- Microsoft PowerPoint is used to create projects and presentations from elementary age levels through high school and beyond. Students quickly learn the unique aspects of PowerPoint and enjoy learning technology while creating a presentation project.
What is Broadcasting? According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, the definition of broadcasting is to transmit or make public by means of radio or television; to make widely known; to scatter seed (Webster, 2005). For purposes of Blended Learning, we will expand the definition to include web transmissions as well as radio and television transmissions. Broadcasting as blended learning incorporates student run radio, television, and websites in an educational setting.
Student led broadcasts of school related information has become increasingly popular in many schools and districts. Student broadcasts create a student-centered school environment among all students while fostering student leadership, developing technical skills, and building self-confidence and self-concept in participating students. Student broadcasting productions is defined as a type of blended learning by actively engaging students in the broadcasting, scripting, production processes, and technical direction of the program. Students from elementary grades through high school journalism classes utilize video, audio, and/or text and learn writing, editing, and publishing techniques through the production of online stories and links to student related interests.
How does broadcasting fit into blended learning? In general...
- K-12 students learn through active participation in broadcasting production, scripting, performance, and technical directing.
- The general student body becomes engaged in student run activities.
- Classroom students take pride in their work highlighted on classroom websites.
- Media and Communications students learn practical applications of technical and communication skills through the active production of broadcasts.
- Journalism students learn to create, edit, and produce news stories.
- Video Production students learn the technical direction necessary behind the scenes in student broadcasts.
Examples of Student Broadcasting in the K-12 setting:
- Oak Park Elementary Student Council sponsors a student led closed circuit television broadcasting program called “Good Morning Oak Park”. Oak Park fourth graders broadcast mini news, morning announcements, and lead the Pledge of Allegiance to the school every morning. "Good Morning Oak Park" originated in the spring of 2003 on W.O.A.K., a school radio station. W.O.A.K. quickly caught on in popularity and became a closed circuit television station during the fall of 2003.
- Video Productions vocational students and Broadcast Journalism students of Hoover High School in North Canton, Ohio produce programs for both cable television and the school web site. Television broadcasts are through the North Canton City Schools Channel 11, an educational cable television station established for student use and production. Students work collaboratively to produce both sites. Journalism students create the feature stories and Video Production students run the technical aspects of the program.
- Media and communications students from Carmel High School in Carmel, Indiana broadcast a student run radio station called WHJE. WHJE began in 1963 with one to two hour broadcasts each day and is now broadcasting on the air and through the web twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. The station develops and fosters student growth through broadcasting experience, production managers, engineers, and technical support.
- Carmel High School also creates a bi-weekly online newspaper featuring student activities, school events, and announcements.