A demonstration of materials that are being developed to explore ways that learners can interact with video images. Footage shot originally for documentary programs forms the basis of packages for use in schools science classes and with learners of English as a Second Language (ESL). The redesign uses video as a resource for group tasks. An additional experiment with ESL learners will look at design options for a future interactive video package.
In theory the introduction of a VCR could radically change the way teachers use video material in the classroom, because of the control and the choices it offers. In practice VCRs in schools are used much as they are in the home - as convenient TV substitutes. Research into the use of TV in primary schools in Britain (Choat et al, 1987) shows that although teachers acknowledge the 'creative' potential of the VCR as well as its convenience, the reality is that they are most likely to show a program through from start to finish just as though it were a broadcast. This is not surprising since that is probably what it originally was - a program designed for television broadcast and therefore designed to be watched from start to finish without interruption.
When you introduce to the classroom a technology that puts control of broadcast television material into the hands of the teacher or the learner they you have to design that material differently if you want them to use it differently.
My own first experience with video materials was with teachers of English as a Foreign Language. We had lots of ideas about how video playback could be used in a language classroom, but without suitably designed software it was difficult to put these ideas into practice. Conversely, once you have software which cannot be viewed like a TV program then you help teachers see the VCR as a different tool. Good materials designed specifically for classroom use are likely to point up ways in which video viewing can become active rather than passive. This can be done quite well on video cassette and the experience may make us better users and producers of disc-based software when it comes.
Video is a good medium for giving learners access to places, people and events they wouldn't otherwise be able to experience. The challenge is to make that an active not a passive experience. In this project I am attempting to meet that challenge by designing software that cannot be used as a conventional program. In fact, in this case I am redesigning, by taking material which was originally shot for a standard documentary program and repackaging it as a set of resource material.
I am now working on pilot materials drawn from this footage and redesigned for use with two different learner groups:
The essence of the design is that students are encouraged to formulate their own questions about the topic and to use the video as a source of answers to those questions. A worksheet guides teacher and students through the video, which is sectioned into very short segments. The worksheet indicates tasks for small groups to carry out after viewing each segment. Some of these segments feature the scientist in charge of this project, Professor John Lucas. An interview with him was shot especially for this package and is used for two purposes:
Initial activities are similar to those suggested for school science classes as group activity and group discussion are particularly useful in a language learning situation. This is a preparation for an additional section in which the scientist gives a summary of the topic, speaking as he would to a group of first year undergraduates.
A second aim with this set is to look at self-access use of video material by second language learners. Some alternatives will be offered to students working in this mode in order to discover what they find most useful. The options are those that could be supplied very simply with a level 3 interactive video work station. They include the provision of:
If the feedback on these pilot packages indicates that the format is effective, it is one which can be applied to a range of productions by a small educational production unit such as ours. For this package, virtually the only additional footage needed was the interview with the scientist. So we can make considerably more use of good original footage at very little additional cost. At the same time we have the attractive possibility of providing the schools in our region with access to some of the most interesting research their University is carrying out.
A strong motivation for me is a desire to encourage teachers to use video more actively by providing them with materials which cannot be used as TV substitutes. I also see the ESL experiments as an important stage in the development of interactive video materials.
Laurillard, D. (ed) (1987). Interactive Media. Ellis Horwood Ltd, Chichester.
|Author: Margaret Allan teaches educational media in the School of Education at James Cook University of North Queensland. She is also responsible for the University's Audio Visual Unit. Her main professional interests are in the production and use of video in ESL teaching and teacher training.
Please cite as: Allan, M. (1988). Redesigning for learning. In J. Steele and J. G. Hedberg (eds), Designing for Learning in Industry and Education, 40-42. Proceedings of EdTech'88. Canberra: AJET Publications. http://www.aset.org.au/confs/edtech88/allan.html