Moving Beyond Text

One of my friends on the national teaching-center scene is Chris Clark, the Assistant Director and Learning Technology Lab Coordinator for the Kaneb Center for Teaching and Learning at Notre Dame.  Chris is also the author of the really helpful blog, NspireD2: Learning Technology in Higher Ed.

In today’s blog post, Chris reflects on whether faculty members have recognized the validity of mediums other than text in conveying meaning.  He notes:

A large number of us were educated at a time when other media were little more than a curiosity. For better or worse, however, the world has changed. The written word is still very important, but meaning is increasingly conveyed using images, video, and sound. That change applies not only to the research function of the university, but also to teaching and learning.

He provides a partial list of indicators that a class — whether in instructor presentation or in student assignments — uses the communicative power of multi-media techniques.  Here’s the list:

  • Students in one of my classes create concept maps
  • I have played a YouTube video during class to illustrate a point
  • I encourage students to include images in their essays
  • My course website features an audio or video welcome message
  • At least half of the slides in my last PowerPoint contain no text
  • I recently played music in the classroom
  • My most recent handout includes a photo
  • One of my class assignments is to critique an infographic
  • I have recorded voice comments in Word documents submitted by students
  • One of my course projects is a multimedia digital story
  • I know where to find images with a Creative Commons license
  • One of the “textbooks” for my course is a full-length movie

Do any of these methods apply to you, your students, or your class?  Chris’s challenge:  let’s make the list much longer.  In the comments to this entry, share some strategies that we can add to the list.

Image: Caffeine Crystals, by Annie Cavanagh & David McCarthy

About Beth Thornburg

AA-Law(Faculty)
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3 Responses to Moving Beyond Text

  1. Lynne Stokes says:

    In my field, one can illustrate many concepts about randomness with simulations. Lot of people have made freely available teaching simulations on line. Now the difficulty is in looking through so many to find the “best” one to illustrate a particular concept. Here is a cool one illustrating the Let’s Make a Deal problem. (Have fun!)
    http://www.tc.umn.edu/~delma001/goat/

    I also have found a number of TED talks that illustrate interesting statistical concepts. Here is one of my favorites:
    http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/hans_rosling_religions_and_babies.html
    I did have several students who commented or sent me email about his last video–told me they sent it to their friends.

  2. Meghan Ryan says:

    In my first-year law class of Torts, I use powerpoints, which primarily just provide images that are intended to trigger for the students recall of the facts of the case we are discussing. For example, when we discuss a case involving facts where two fires join forces to burn an individual’s property, I provide the image of a fire. This is very simple to do, but I find that it helps students who are better at remembering facts based on imagery than they are at memorizing case names.

  3. Kristina Booker says:

    I love teaching with film. My students talk about film so naturally, and I find it builds their confidence to see that they are already very skilled at analyzing a visual text. For example, right now I’m teaching Jane Eyre. I show my students a short clip of the same scene from several different film versions of the novel, and we talk about how each film has interpreted two of the characters (Rochester and Bertha) in very different ways. The students easily identify how the films make Bertha more or less animalistic in order to make Rochester seem more or less sympathetic. This exercise helps them see how narrative makes arguments, and for some reason they see it so quickly with a film. I find that they are more confident in their own analysis when we turn back to the novels.

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