Coming Home: Multimedia in Technology Applications

A stone building with a cloudy sky in the background. Three floors are shown with windows on each floor. There's a door entrance on the first floor and a large clock on the tower overhead.
Old Courthouse Denton TX” by Aaron Jacobs on en.wikipedia – Photograph created by Aaron Jacobs. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.

Was there ever a graduate course subject more perfectly suited to the outcome of my six year sojourn through higher education as an undergraduate at the University of North Texas?  As a Radio/TV/Film major I fell in love with images and sound and their elegant efficiency of communication. Much more than a thousand words, media communicate emotions, themes, contexts in an instantly recognizable and understandable format that when well done engages an audience and presents an orchestra of information without them even realizing they are building new connections among their neurons. Add to that a fascination and enthusiasm for computer technology that drove me to teach myself programming (BASIC) as a high school sophomore in 1980 and eventually a minor in computer science and we come happily to the present-day confluence of media and technology.

Now that my life’s path has led to me becoming a teacher, I naturally often turn to media to present complicated information, social/emotional contexts and important points that I want to especially create a memorable impression. One of the first uses of media in my classes is a short video I use on the second day of class, without introduction, I merely ask for their attention and for the lights to be turned off.  Click on the link if you dare:
Kitchen Safety Video
The video does all the rest. It instantly leads to a profitable discussion on respecting a possibly dangerous environment and the importance of situational awareness. I use video most often when presenting dining room service as there are so many good clips from television and film that show not only the traditional actions of servers but also the atmosphere and social context that go along with good and poor service. In a much more static vein I have presented labs and recipes in a less traditional mode because of the richness of information that images convey and the ease of following an algorithm presented in a visual storyboard style:
A lab comic example

Not only can the student see exactly how each step should look, but the simple novelty of the presentation helps to make it more engaging and more likely to actually be used.

I’m looking forward with great anticipation to learning how to better utilize, present and integrate the power of media into the technological tapestry of the school day and tap into the tools my students are most familiar with and encourage them to become self-motivated learners.

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