This week we were asked to respond to a reading from last week, chapter seven from Bates. The chapter summarizes different medias such as text, audio, video, computing, and social media.
With each of these medias, Bates describes characteristics of learning and teaching. Positives and negatives are discussed for each. A few quotes from each section of the chapter drew my eye. Here they are, one for each of the sections:
Text is that it can be carefully scrutinised, analysed and constantly checked
Added flexibility and learner control means that students will often learn better from preprepared audio recordings combined with accompanying textual material (such as a web site with slides) than they will from a live classroom lecture.
Video is particularly useful for recording events or situations where it would be too difficult, dangerous, expensive or impractical to bring students to such events
The issue around the value of computing as a medium for teaching is less about its pedagogical value and more about control.
The main feature of social media is that they empower the end user to access, create, disseminate and share information easily in a user-friendly, open environment.
All of these quotes show that each of these medias have value and are recognized by all, if not used by all.
Personally, I can’t choose a favourite style to learn from. I honestly like a blend of all of the different types. I enjoy reading text-based items, either in print format or online.
I appreciate audio more as a break in concentration. I find that I am able to do a lot of other things if I’m listening to a book on tape, or just listening to the audio of a video. Although multitasking is not real, I find that it’s a good way to listen and try to get something done at the same time.
I love videos. When I get ready in the morning I constantly have something on YouTube while I’m getting ready. Now that John Oliver is back (I have a serious crush on John Oliver, I’ve written about it before) I can now get ready on Monday mornings while listening and watching his show. I, of course, watch other things, but I really appreciate both the visual and the audio (and the humour) of most videos.
Same goes for computing and social media, which I am going to lump together. Some days I enjoy the ease of using a computer to take notes or to create a blog. I enjoy creating content to share with others as well.
So, in saying that I can’t pick a favourite type of media, I guess that I have to keep that in mind with my students. They may not be able to pick either. Or, maybe they don’t want to.
I completely agree with Katherine, when she said that learning styles/preferences might be a myth. However, what I do believe is that students like to learn in different ways on different days. And these might not be connected to learning styles at all, but to mood. If I am feeling very overwhelmed, and I have a bunch of new concepts to consider, as a learner I might appreciate a text. I can take my time with a text, reread, pause and think. Nothing is loud or overwhelming.
However, the next day I might need a refresher on a concept that I already know about. Listening to a podcast about it, or watching a quick video might be all I need. If I feel like I need to create something, I can use social media or computing to provide me with that outlet, if that’s what I need for my learning that day.
When considering the different types of medias and how to use them as teaching tools, I think that a lot of the time teachers rely on their own personal biases when choosing media for their classes. This bias sometimes comes from “well, this is how I was taught…” but can also come from “well, I like this the best.” Of course a very common bias is “I’m not really comfortable with anything else.”
But, as Graham stated in his post, it’s not about the teacher, it’s the question “what medium of technology is best for my student to learn this content or skill?” It’s important to realize that although we may all have our predispositions or biases, the students are the ones who need to feel comfortable and need to be able to learn in the manner that suits them best.
I fully believe that we can present the same information in a multitude of ways, especially if we take a little time to find the other ways. When I am teaching my French kindergarten students a new letter, I “lecture” first, then they play games with the letter on an iPad. They watch a video with the letter in it and I have an alphabet song as well. We also do lots and lots of hands-on activities (which aren’t mentioned here, of course). With all of these different ways of learning, the kids usually get a really good sense of the letter of the week.
Of course, if I had older students I would have even more options, as five-year-olds are somewhat limited when it comes to some forms of media (either by reading or by privacy).
So, in summary – I believe that we all like different medias and appreciate the opportunity to learn from different medias when they are available.