Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Implementing Multimedia in the Middle School Curriculum: Pros, Cons and Lessons Learned

Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Implementing Multimedia in the Middle School Curriculum: Pros, Cons and Lessons Learned

Article excerpt

Multimedia technology has exploded onto the educational scene as the answer for educating the "television generation." The educational role of multimedia, however, has not been fully defined and many professional educators are skeptical of the hype surrounding this new panacea; they remember well the days of programmed learning, teaching machines, computer-assisted instruction, educational television, etc. Still, multimedia has impacted public school education in a variety of ways.

Commercially available multimedia software is often employed as an individualized teaching station. Teachers use it for student remediation or enrichment, which frees them up for other tasks or to work with other students. Multimedia is also helping improve teachers' presentations as they can pull in material from videotape, videodisc or CD-ROM and present it on computers with projection capabilities.

However, multimedia technology, as much as reading and writing, should be a tool for learning across curricular boundaries. While there have been successful efforts to teach students to utilize computers and software (typically word processing and HyperCard) to prepare reports and to give presentations, the technology is available to access a wide variety of learning resources, to challenge students to learn more, and to express that learning in a variety of ways.

* To Assist Pre-Service Teachers

In the College of Education at the University of Wyoming, we have come to view the implementation of multimedia technology into the classroom as an issue that impacts not only the public schools, but also our undergraduate teacher-education program. Students planning to be teachers must understand that teaching roles in a technologically rich environment differ significantly from the roles they observed as students in the public schools and in many, if not most, college classrooms and lecture halls.

Because students in the public schools are, and will continue to be, more technologically literate than their teachers, the faculty of the College of Education funded a multimedia center in order to examine the relationship between teachers and students when technology is central in the teaching and learning environment.

The initial phase of integrating multimedia technology into the teacher-education program at the University of Wyoming began with the laboratory school. Between September 1992 and January 1993, a pilot program to implement multimedia into the middle school (grades 6-9) curriculum of the laboratory school (Wyoming Center for Teaching and Learning-Laramie or WCTL-L) was completed. This article reports on the implementation effort and issues that must be addressed when incorporating technology into the curriculum.

* Project Studies Integrating Multimedia

WCTL-L has been successful in developing an integrated curriculum for the Unit I and 11 classrooms (grades 1-5), and has sought to expand that effort into the middle school.

The purpose of this project was to introduce multimedia technology into the curriculum integration effort, to identify strengths and weaknesses in the overall curriculum plan, and to examine issues related to implementation.

Extensive notes were assembled, reflecting observations of students in class and discussions among instructors on the progress of the program. Results revealed many positive, potential advantages of the medium for curriculum integration, as well as many areas needing improvement in the planning process.

The subjects of the fall 1992 study were 92 Unit III students attending WCTL-L, including all students in grades six through nine. As was expected with this age spread, there was a large amount of variation in maturity levels, learning styles, attitudes and interest. Overall, the test group could be described as a random cross section of typical middle school-aged students with no prior computing knowledge.

All 92 students, meeting during three class periods, had to be accommodated with only nine work stations. …

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