Academic journal article Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia

Students' and Teachers' Perceptions of Motivation and Learning through the Use in Schools of Multimedia Encyclopaedias on CD-ROMs

Academic journal article Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia

Students' and Teachers' Perceptions of Motivation and Learning through the Use in Schools of Multimedia Encyclopaedias on CD-ROMs

Article excerpt

This article is the result of interviews with teachers, students, and school librarians in eight UK secondary schools regarding their use of multimedia encyclopaedias on CD-ROM. It focuses on a content analysis of their comments on how having access to multimedia encyclopaedias changes the way students work and learn in school, how they perceive it enhances their learning, and how it hinders it.

Teachers reported that they used multimedia encyclopaedias as an additional information resource, or because their use was motivating to the students. Some said that having multimedia encyclopaedias had no effect on their teaching. However, they were not so much using multimedia resources within their teaching, but sending students out of their lessons to the library to use them.

The most important factor, by far, in the students' motivation to use multimedia encyclopaedias in school was that they found them quick and easy to use. There was also strong support for motivation through the graphics, video, and sound on the CD-ROM. There was some support for the students being motivated because they were allowed to be in control of their learning.

To make the most of the potential of multimedia encyclopaedias for enhancing students' learning in schools, it is recommended that a large and early emphasis needs to be placed on the teaching of information handling and research skills. Students prepared in this way will be better equipped to enjoy the more open, independent learning tasks to which multimedia encyclopaedias so readily lend themselves.

In 1992, the Director of the British National Council for Educational Technology (NCET) said that the use of multimedia and CD-ROMs in UK schools was developing rapidly (Steadman, Nash, & Eraut, 1992). By 1997, the writers of the McKinsey Report, which discussed the future of information technology in UK schools (McKinsey & Company, 1997), were able to assume that there were at least 20 multimedia capable computers in every secondary school. Most secondary schools view multimedia computers with CD-ROM drives as information resources. The schools locate these computers in libraries or resource centres, where there is a librarian or another nonteaching staff member to oversee them.

In this article, the study reported attempts to move beyond Hammond's (1995) Stage One Research into multimedia CD-ROM use, characterised by focusing on the program, surveys of computer use, and personal testimonials to address the question, "How do learners (students and teachers) approach CD-ROMs?" The investigation was carried out through content analysis of interviews with secondary school teachers, librarians, and students exploring their perceptions of the changes in teaching and learning in their schools as multimedia encyclopaedias became available.

It has been established (Wishart, 1990; Cox, 1997; Denning, 1997) that the use of personal computers is motivating to students. In fact, Denning (1997) reported almost universal enthusiasm among students for the use of IT to support their work in schools. It is proposed that this is true, perhaps even more so, of CD-ROM use as well.

Theories put forward to explain the nature of the increased motivation seen in students using computers in schools fall into two groups. In the first group are classical behaviourist theories originating from the work of Thorndike (1898) on trial-and-error learning. These describe positive, extrinsic reinforcements generated by, or associated with, the software. If a trial response results in a reward, it will be repeated and learned, whereas ineffectual or wrong responses will be lost. When working at the computer, the ease of error correction and the semi-private environment mean that students are more likely to experiment in their work at a computer than when in class (NCET, 1994).

Also, it is obvious that children find the use of a computer rewarding. …

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