Education & Technology – Then and Now

If anyone ever wants to know whether education technology, specifically video, works in the classroom, all one has to utter in response is: “Conjunction junction, what’s your function?” or “I’m just a bill on Capitol Hill.” It’s unlikely you’ll find anyone born after 1955 that doesn’t remember at least a concept or two from the Schoolhouse Rock series that was originally produced between 1973 and 1986.

We’ve all had the experience when we hear a familiar song and immediately recall a moment from our past connected to the song. It was proven long ago, and Schoolhouse Rock is an additional testament to the fact, that when both audio and visual elements are added to educational concepts, students are engaged at a deeper level and more likely to retain that information.

In the words of Hannah, a child interviewed during a research project on how video enhances learning, “A lot of us watch TV, and we remember TV,” she said. “When the teacher tells us to read directions in a book or when she’s trying to explain things, I don’t always understand. But when she shows us, I understand it more.”

The practice of using education technology and enhancing curriculum with audio-visual elements grew rapidly during the last half of the 20th century. In the last ten years or so, however, the technology explosion has produced enhancements in communication, entertainment, and information retrieval and has sent children’s education in different directions.

In light of this, does video still have a place as part of our education technology tool set? Of course! A good educational video, whether delivered via VHS, DVD, or from a website, when used appropriately in the curriculum, still provides the following benefits:

o Appeals to Multiple Learning Styles – Different videos can explain a single concept in completely different ways which increases the likelihood of the student learning what is being taught.

o Appeals to Multiple Teaching Styles – The use of videos as part of education technology allows teachers a variety of ways to cover the curriculum.

o Connects Concepts to Applications – Teachers can use situations portrayed in the video to inspire students to come up with their own examples of the concept being taught.

o Students Gain Deeper Understanding – Students having difficulty with a particular concept can repeat viewing a video, by themselves, at their own pace, until they develop the necessary understanding.

o Attention Leads to Retention – Attentiveness increases when students are presented with concrete, visual images that are fast-paced and interesting. Naturally attentive students become more knowledgeable and perform better on assessments.

A year after the research project involving Hannah, she could still remember the concepts taught through video and the teachers were convinced student performance had improved. And, if you can remember even one of the concepts taught by Schoolhouse Rock, the case for using video is made.