These two case studies refer to videos I have watched as part of my Masters course, ETEC 533 and the copyright on the videos is unclear, so I am unable to show them here.

Learning Environment 6 with Teacher G (Post-secondary Applied Science)

This case study is about the use of a “clicker” or instant feedback device in a post-secondary applied science classroom.  The basic idea is, students have a remote clicker which they use to wirelessly transmit their answer on a multiple choice question presented at the front of the class.
The first thing I noticed about this video was that the instructor’s approach to teaching and what kind of information he was collecting seemed to be similar to what a secondary teacher might want to collect.  In other words, the position of the instructor in a post-secondary institution was less important than the fact he is an instructor.  This suggests to me that his experience with the “clickers” might be applicable to where I teach, in a secondary school.

The second thing I noticed is that what he likes about the clickers is the apparent engagement it creates among the students and how this could be useful.  However this has to be taken with a grain of salt, since as one of the students put it “Everyone else is just using PowerPoint or overhead projectors, so this is much more interesting”.  So the WOW! Factor might be critical here and we might be seeing a skew in our results.

The clicker technology though has the advantage of immediate feedback, not only for the students, but more importantly for the instructor.  Once you know whether or not everyone gets an idea, you can move on.  It seems to me that the clickers only allow for multiple choice responses, so this could be a bit of a disadvantage because it can be quite difficult to frame a multiple-choice question so that all types of learners are able to process the question and apply their knowledge to it.

There is another newer technology this reminds me of, where you create polls on a website, and students send in their responses via text message, and you can view all of the responses live on the website.  Very similar to the clicker technology, but might be more useful in a distributed learning environment.

The benefit of this technology is obviously the immediate feedback it gives the students.  A major drawback is the cost, both in terms of time setting up the multiple choice questions during the class to which the students respond and the cost of purchases enough remote clickers for every student.

Learning Environment 7 with Teacher E (Science, Elementary Preservice Teacher Education)

This case study is about using stop-motion animation to help teach physics concepts.  The basic idea here is, create an animation for the students to help them understand a concept in science.  An example would be, showing the animals in a food-chain actually eating each other in an animation, instead of using a simple picture with arrows pointing between the animals.

First reaction is that it must take an enormous amount of time to create the stop-motion animation.  This reaction was born out by the responses of the participants, nearly all of whom complained about how much time the animations took to create.

My second reaction was that I couldn’t hear the interviewer’s questions in most cases, so it was difficult to follow along the various videos for this case study.

One of the participants mentions that the stop-motion animation allows a teacher to present their instruction in a medium that the students of today, immersed as they are in digital media, can understand and appreciate more deeply.  By using the same digital media to present an idea, it is more likely to be understood.

Another participant used the students to help create the backdrop and pieces used in the stop-motion animation which he suggested help the students be even more engaged in the process, since it was their work they were seeing.  The same group suggested using a narrative as a way of helping students follow the process along more easily.

The instructor’s main point about the exercise was that the use of technology should be integrated into all of the courses a student takes, rather than as a stand-alone course.  He also mentions that if a textbook is “good enough” for learning a particular concept, then the use of technology to present the same concept should be carefully examined. 

A benefit of this technology is clearly the enhanced student engagement by the use of media.  A serious disadvantage is the amount of time taken to go through the process, whether it is classroom time with students or preparation time for the teacher outside of class.

Further questions

How much do these two different technologies cost to implement?

How much time does it take to learn how to use the technology?

How much time does it take to prepare the use of technology for the classroom?

Are there other cheaper alternatives that can be used within a classroom with similar effects?