Magazine article Technology & Learning

Multimedia, Professional Development, and School Renewal

Magazine article Technology & Learning

Multimedia, Professional Development, and School Renewal

Article excerpt

Computer-based multimedia is hot - not because we suddenly discovered its benefits, but as a natural result of the evolution of technology. And this is just the beginning. Dramatic advances in communications technologies - along with steady PC performance gains - make it clear that digitally networked multimedia is the future.

Unfortunately, however, our schools are generally ill-prepared to take advantage of the educational power of networked multimedia. To put it bluntly, there is a huge gap between what we know about teaching, learning, and technology, and what we do in our schools.

This gap is not primarily the result of negligence or incompetence. The greatest impediment to school renewal is probably the fact that we all went to school. I'm not kidding. Today's technology begs us to rethink and recreate schooling, but the very term school tends to impede our progress because it brings to mind a particular image based on our own experience. For most of us, school still means large buildings subdivided into rectangular classrooms; learning based mostly on listening and watching; and a bell schedule cueing us to change classrooms and/or topics every 45 minutes or so.

It is no different for teachers. A basic axiom of teaching is that teachers tend to teach the way they were taught. This is compounded by parental expectations that their children's school experience will be similar to their own.

The point here is not to be critical; it's simply to point out an obstacle that needs to be addressed. Modern technology is not a good fit for school as we know it. Our challenge is not to recreate education - i.e., what we know about how people learn, and about the essence of good teaching. Our challenge is to recreate school in ways that tap the power of technology to help close the gap between education knowledge and school practice.

A Great Place to Start

Professional development is a great place to start, because there is no element of schooling more important than teaching.

Rather than just adding multimedia to the existing model, here are some ways it can be used with regard to professional development to promote school renewal.

* Modeling: It has been said that as a good picture is worth a thousand words, so a good model is worth a thousand pictures. …

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