Education through Entertainment

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This week we learned about Audio-Visual Technologies in learning, and we had a great presentation  by Michael, Joe, Sam and Kyla M . Thank you! You did an awesome job!

I would like to share a personal experience about my eldest son who was a late reader. I had to find ways to teach him basic concepts in a fun and interactive way. His teacher and I tried different strategies until one day I came across two videos by the Leapfrog company called Letter Sounds Factory and Talking Words Factory. They were a huge success in teaching him letter sounds, and how to connect letters to make words.  Although the videos were a great resource, however, without the teacher’s continuous support and enthusiasm my son’s reading wouldn’t have significantly improved. She arranged book clubs for students and reading competitions to help them catch up, and to encourage him and his classmates to read. She built a completely interactive, rewarding, and motivating experience for the whole class that they will never forget.

Along the same lines,  I remember using many episodes of Sesame Street to teach my kids about meanings of friendship, or even manners such as “sharing what we have.” The episodes gave me a chance to highlight the messages that I wanted my kids to grasp. I found that Sesame Street was a tool like other tools we use in the classroom to keep students engaged and entertained while learning. I felt that their learning experience was colorful, exciting, engaging, and playful.  I have to say the high expectations that programs like Sesame street put in our student’s minds is a big challenge. Nevertheless, when my kids started school they would wake up every day with no complaints that it isn’t as fun as Sesame Street is.

In spite of the above, I sort of agree to some extent with Postman who wrote, “…We now know that “Sesame Street” encourages children to love school only if a school is like “Sesame Street.” Which is to say, we now know that “Sesame Street” undermines what the traditional idea of schooling represents“.

The differences between the two environments can sometimes be big as mentioned by Postman;   

World of School is                                                        World of TV programming:

–Social interaction                                                           – Isolation                       

–Critical thinking                                                             – Unresponsive

–Language                                                                        – Images

–Legal requirement                                                        – An act of choice

–Fun as a means to an end                                            – Fun as an end in itself

Using multimedia in the classroom, without doubt, has a big advantage. It is a way to create a better experience and to reach out to different learners. It helps them to engage and focus. However, educational media will never replace teachers, school, or even family time and storytelling. In fact, they both complement each other. Teachers have to use whatever educational technology tools to challenge their student’s minds, keep them engaged, and to keep up with the speed of evolution in technology. We have to use the type of technology that our kids use in their everyday life.

According to this article:  Importance of AV in schools, “Learning via AV creates a stimulating and interactive environment which is more conducive to learning, We live in an audio-visual age which means that having the skills to use AV equipment is integral to future employment prospects. Therefore exposure to AV technology in education is imperative.”  which is also what Brook found in her experience in the classroom as she mentioned in her blog,“ In my own practice, AV technology enhances learning by showing students content rather than simply having them read about it or listen to me teach about it. AV technology provides another lens and context through which students are able to make meaning of the world around them.”

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There are many teachers who are passionate and willing to find new ways to gain their student’s attention. They are in the contentious hunt to use today’s technology and techniques, and to incorporate them in their class. Within this context, educational multimedia, such as Sesame Street, can be a helpful means. Educational multimedia teaches our kids by stimulating their minds. It is a colorful and joyful experience, which can sometimes be replicated in the classroom.

However, using educational multimedia alone has its disadvantages. We may lose the student’s logical thinking, and it could also be a source of distraction for students.

Kyla also mentioned in her blog post this week “ Our current culture of smartphones has pushed educators to incorporate the technology – the seeming current language of today’s youth – into our classrooms and our schools. BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and the integration of smartphones in classrooms does not just happen automatically without thought to acceptable use. “ which really resonated with me. It is important to integrate the use of this generation’s spoken language of  “Smartphones” and “Apps” into the classroom. Apps are a step ahead of “Sesame Street” as they are more interactive and enables teaching more problem-solving skills. However, “apps and smartphones” are still less than what a student can benefit from a teacher. Yes, speech recognition tools such as Siri can help with language development, but again not to the same level as a human interaction would.

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