How to Use Media to Enhance Teaching and Learning
Using media requires that the instructor step outside of the traditional lecture method and facilitate learning by encouraging students to learn through the media. This approach works best when students are primed. If students are not adequately informed about what they are expected them to learn, they will struggle to make the connection between the learning objectives and the media that they are exposed to.
When to introduce media?
- Before learning the concept. Showing media before the discussion gives students an image to which they can compare the topics under discussion. This approach allows quick reference to easily recalled examples. Schwartz and Bransford (1998) show that demonstrations focused on contrasting cases help students achieve expert-like differentiation. In addition, Schwartz and Martin (2004) found that carefully-prepared demonstrations "help students generate the types of knowledge that are likely to help them learn" from subsequent lectures.
- After a brief introduction but before learning the concept. This method provides students with a brief capsule of what the media is about and what to look for -- helping to focus attention while watching the media.
- After learning the concept. Showing media after describing a theory or concept allows the instructor to use the scenes as a case study. This approach helps students develop their analytical skills in applying what they are learning.
- Before and after. Repeating the media is especially helpful when trying to develop student understanding of complex topics. Utilize the media before the discussion to give students an anchor. Guide students through a description or discussion of the topics. Rerun the media as a case study and ask students to analyze what they see using the theories and concepts just discussed. Also punctuate the rerun with an active discussion by asking students to call out the concepts they see in the scenes. This method helps to reinforce what they have just learned.
Tips if you are new to this method:
- Start small. Find one movie, song, or news source and incorporate it into your class. Expand once you are comfortable.
- Provide a clear link between what you want your students to learn and the media. Care must be taken provide the proper learning context.
- It takes time to integrate media effectively into a course. This is not edutainment, it is the conscious use of media to enable students to learn more.
- Use the subtitles feature for visual media. This is especially useful in focusing student attention on the words being said.
- Be prepared. Technology does not work 100% of the time so have a back up plan. If the media equipment does not work, go to plan B and continue on with your class without missing a beat.
- Evaluate student understanding. Students respond to incentives. If you require them to write a reaction paper, take a quiz, or place questions on your exams that relate to the media content they will pay more attention and learn more in the process.
- Stay legal. View the copyright information on the cautions page.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- What differentiates this teaching method? It takes the instructor out of the traditional role of the "teacher" and makes them a facilitator, or guide, who showcases learning materials (movies, music, and news) in order to leverage an incredibly rich set of content. More importantly, utilizing media demonstrates how your specific discipline is relevant culturally and also in the events that are transpiring in the real world.
- How does the use of media help with recall and understanding? Hard to recall concepts are ideally suited to the use of media. The images that media create help to lock in these ideas. Also, easily misinterpreted concepts can be effectively shown through the use of media.
- What is the preferred class size? This method can be used with any class size. Watching a film clip in a large lecture is comparable to watching it in a theater. Classroom audiences feel the same emotions that theater audiences do -- they laugh when the scene is funny, gasp when shocked, and cry when they feel empathy. The collective experience that using media evokes is very powerful. Access to a high-tech classroom is not required. Pulling an audio-visual cart into a low-tech classroom and showing a media clip on a small television works just fine.
Instructors do not need to be media savvy. Our students have grown up in the digital age and they are comfortable with technology. Here are some of the winning student videos from the California Student Media Festival which feature entries from elementary and secondary schools.
Instructors should help students focus on creating content that is meaningful for the intended audience. Here is a college financial aid contest and a NAFSA video contest featuring college student entries describing their experiences studying abroad. Each of these contests showcase the ability of students to create high-quality videos with targeted messages.