In order to enhance the student learning experience in an online and open learning space, teachers must encourage safe communication and interactions between students. One of the best ways to foster a culture of safe and open communication online is for the teacher to model it. One way that teachers can do this is by amplifying their own social presence in the open online learning space. By doing this, teachers also make deeper connections with students which allows them to meet their needs more effectively.
As a teacher, modelling desired behaviour for students is paramount. This is true in the classroom, as well as online and open learning spaces. Albert Bandura, father of the Observational Learning Theory, asserts that children are surrounded by influential models (teachers included) and are inclined to imitate the behaviour of those models. Therefore, teachers should focus on modeling the behaviour that they would like their students to adopt. This is a highly simplified explanation of Bandura’s research, so if you are interested in learning more, you can check out this video.
After engaging with the course readings for this topic, I now understand the five aspects of a k-12 Social Presence Model (Garrett Dikker, Whiteside, & Lewis, 2012). These are: affective association, community cohesion, instructor involvement, interaction intensity, and knowledge/experience. For any teacher creating an online learning community, this framework to increase social connectedness is supremely helpful.
As I navigate an online learning space as a student, I am thinking about what I would do differently if I was in this space as a teacher. I hope to learn how to cultivate a professional and approachable online social presence. I also hope to build a network of educators to grow alongside and learn from.
In order to thoroughly evaluate the Book Creator app, each of our group members has summarized one relevant academic article below. We have also intertwined several multimedia principles into our research to further prove the viability of Book Creator as an effective classroom tool.
In Chapter 15, Exploring the Suitability of the Book Creator for iPad App for Early Childhood Education of the book Mobile Learning Design: Theories and Application, Monika Tavernier (2016) conducts a 12-week quantitative study to determine how beneficial Book Creator is as a tool for early childhood education. Over the course of the study, the app’s many multimedia functions become more accessible for students to use independently as they rely less on the guidance of an adult. It was established that in order to use this app effectively with young learners, a thoughtfully scaffolded unit plan must be constructed to ensure students are familiarized with the functions of the app to create meaningful work. This utilizes the guided discovery principle as student learning is directed towards agency and exploration. As the students become acquainted with Book Creator, the teacher can take a step back and leave the students to express themselves and their understanding of a topic through the app. Moreover, Book Creator provides a place for the “user to draw, type, take photos, create videos, create voice recordings, or a combination of all of these, and add these creations to their digital artefacts”(p. 251). The voice recording aspect is especially effective for younger students who cannot yet write. Giving them the opportunity to explain their drawings and clarify meaning; instead of leaving it up to the teacher to infer. Book Creator empowers young students to be independent and convey their learning in whichever way best suits their needs.
In the article, “Book Creator: An App For Turning Language Learners into Authors” Deryn Mansell (2020) discusses the merits and limitations of the app. She commends its creators for updating the app to include text-to-speech software, which increases accessibility for emerging readers or students who may have a visual impairment. Mansell also praises Book Creator for including a collaborative feature that allows students to work together on their projects. Given that Book Creator is simply a platform on which students can create, it is up to the educator to ensure that the activity or project students are assigned is pedagogically sound. One way for educators to do this is to be aware of the collaboration principle, which is discussed in Chapter 24 of the Cambridge Handbook of Multimedia Learning. In that chapter, the authors assert that in order for collaborative learning to be productive, the task must be challenging enough to justify working with others. In addition, the positive outcome from working with a group must outweigh the challenges of doing so. As long as the educator thoughtfully plans a project, meaningful collaboration can take place. Keeping the collaboration principle in mind, Book Creator is a fantastic tool. Students are empowered when they use the app because, with its help, “[they] become authors.”(Mansell, 2020, p.36).
In the article, “Research That Resonates: Student Research Projects Using iMovie and Book Creator” Andrea Gillier and Laura Schmaltz (2016) focus on what educators can do to create a learner-centred environment. A statement that stands out is that “technology [should be used] to support the creation and sharing of knowledge rather than to support teaching” (p. 3). This quote perfectly describes Book Creator because students can create their own books to demonstrate learning. When students are given the opportunity to pick a topic that interests them, they will be more likely to feel a sense of pride and ownership toward their work. A project is described in the article where students use Book Creator to create and narrate a book. The learning objective was for students to verbally and visually communicate their understanding of an English Language Arts concept. This project demonstrates the modality principle. Instead of solely using printed text, the modality principle states that learning is enhanced by using graphics and narration. Overall, Gillier and Schmaltz emphasize that students should be creating content instead of consuming it. This is achievable through Book Creator.
In the article, “Writing and iPads in the early years: Perspectives from within the classroom” Jill Dunn and Tony Sweeney (2018) conduct an international study investigating the use of iPads to teach compositional writing. More specifically, how this writing differs from using pen and paper. Book Creator and similar apps are praised throughout the article for helping students develop and communicate their thoughts through multimodal texts. Most of the teachers could agree that writing activities using the iPad were perceived by students as more of a game than work. The ability to add images, drawings and voice recordings presents ample opportunity for choice and creativity. In other words, apps like Book Creator are taking advantage of the Multimedia and Voice principles to enhance learning. Students also celebrated iPad features like autocorrect for underlining misspelled words in red, thus pointing out where they must go back and edit. Here the signalling feature supports learning. Dunn & Sweeney acknowledge the value of a pencil, but argue that it can also be “a potential obstacle for some children’s literacy development in the increasingly digitised world” (p. 866). Embracing alternative forms of communication in the classroom, such as Book Creator, helps solve this problem.
Our academic research combined with our understanding of the multimedia learning principles makes it clear that Book Creator is a wonderful addition to any classroom. The app empowers students and gives them agency over their own learning. Simply put, Book Creator positions students as creators of knowledge, rather than consumers of knowledge.
Here is an example of a book that one of our group members, Shaylin, created.
Here is a short tutorial that teaches you how to use Book Creator:
Churchill, D., Lu, J., Chiu, T. K. F., & Fox, B. (2015;2016;). Mobile learning design: Theories and application. Singapore: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-981-10-0027-0
Scheiter, K. (2014). The Learner Control Principle in Multimedia Learning. In R. Mayer (Ed.), The Cambridge Handbook of Multimedia Learning (Cambridge Handbooks in Psychology, pp. 487-512). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9781139547369.025)
In Chapter 24 of “The Cambridge Handbook of Multimedia Learning” textbook, Slava Kalyuga (2005) discusses the expertise reversal principle. He explains how multimedia learning principles which can be effective for learners who are inexperienced in a specific subject area, can also be ineffective for other learners who are already proficient in that same area. Kalyuga describes several examples in which the multimedia principle, modality principle and signaling principle (among others) had positive effects for novice learners, but negative consequences for expert learners. Therefore proving his thesis that adaptive multimedia systems can help teachers differentiate their instruction for learners based on their level of prior knowledge.
Expert learners may be at a disadvantage when they are taught with the same learning principles as novice learners due to cognitive overload. Cognitive overload occurs when a learner’s brain is busy sorting through unnecessary information, rather than digesting new knowledge. Kalyuga compares the expertise reversal principle to the redundancy principle (Chapter 10) because advanced learners must still exert valuable brainpower to process information even if it is redundant for them. Kalyuga suggests that expert learners be given less guidance and structure to decrease their cognitive load and thus improve their overall performance. Essentially, expert and novice learners should receive instructional procedures in “reverse.” This means the level of instruction should decrease as students gain knowledge, so as to reduce cognitive load. A strategy otherwise known as the “expertise reversal effect.”
Evidence confirming the impact that the expertise reversal principle has on learning, indicates that teachers require more support to develop informed instructional frameworks. Kalyuga explains that, ideally, educators should design lessons that suit the needs of each individual student. Unfortunately, this is difficult to achieve, which is why lessons typically have a fixed design with a focus on novice learners. Whereas more experienced learners are deprived because their needs are being overlooked. Kalyuga calls for more research into identifying specific instructional practices to optimize learning for learners of all levels. Moreover, he argues that the instructional methods must be dynamic, meaning that they adapt as the learner’s level of expertise progresses. One way to begin strategizing is to record and assess each learner’s progress accurately and regularly. Kalyuga concludes that asserting dynamic and adaptive multimedia systems which factor in prior knowledge is most effective for enhancing learning.
In this section, we will link the expertise reversal principle to other research and connect this information to educational practice to further develop our ideas. Chapter 24 pointed out that while novice learners required more support to learn effectively, lower levels of support was more constructive for expert learners. Instructional scaffolding denotes the amount of support given to a student during instruction. The Gradual Release of Responsibility (GRR) model aims to “mov[e] classroom instruction from teacher-centered, wholegroup delivery to student-centered collaboration and independent practice”(Levy, 2007).
Educators can let the GRR model inform lesson plan design by incorporating demonstration, prompt and practice into instruction. In other words, transitioning from and moving in between the phases of: I do it (direct instruction), we do it (guided instruction), you do it independently (independent practice) and you do it together (collaborative learning). The model reiterates how important it is to take into account students’ prior knowledge when scaffolding a lesson plan. Learners need increased assistance and guidance when they are introduced to new material, but as they become more knowledgeable they require less support. As previously mentioned, excess support can detriment learning and lead to cognitive overload.
Since schooling may continue online come fall due to COVID-19, addressing the GRR model during lesson plan design will become increasingly important. If possible, teachers should provide multiple means of instruction for any given subject so students can engage with the content according to their level of expertise. Consider organizing a lesson about underwater animals: a student who lives in the desert might enjoy an introductory PowerPoint informed by the multimedia principle which highlights key words and pictures. Whereas a student who lives on the beach might prefer a simpler form of instruction informed by the expertise reversal principle, such as a text-only article.
Kalyuga explains that, “an instructional format without redundant guidance would allow more experienced learners to use their available schema-based knowledge structures held in long-term memory in the most efficient way”(2005). Of course, tailoring instruction to suit the changing levels of learner expertise requires significant time and effort on behalf of the teacher. However, such planning is necessary to provide choice for all students, and more specifically to this topic, prevent cognitive overload for expert students. Yet another argument in support of differentiated instruction.
Carol Tomlinson and Tonya Moon (2013) point out the principle of “teaching up” in their book Assessment and Student Success in a Differentiated Classroom. They encourage educators to “beg[in] planning student work by developing tasks that would invigorate students who are advanced in a topic or content area and then differentiate by providing scaffolding that enables the range of less advanced learners to work successfully with the advanced-level task” (p. 8). Sometimes as teachers, our desire to see every student succeed means we spend most of our time tailoring instruction to novice learners rather than seeing the potential of expert learners. Differentiation ensures each learner’s readiness is routinely assessed so everyone is challenged to the best of their abilities during instruction.
Here is a graphic to help further your understanding of the expertise reversal principle. If you compare this to the GRR model graphic above it is evident how closely related the two are.
Kalyuga, S. (2005). Prior Knowledge Principle in Multimedia Learning. In R. Mayer (Ed.), The Cambridge Handbook of Multimedia Learning (Cambridge Handbooks in Psychology, pp. 325-338). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511816819.022
As a group, we have chosen to evaluate the multimedia application called “Book Creator”. We agreed out of our group’s individually chosen apps, Book Creator was the most versatile in the classroom as it can be utilized in any subject area. This app is a favourite of many educators. Notably, Lisa Read, the District Technology Coordinator for SD 79, speaks highly of this app because of the opportunity it gives students to create, rather than consume. We also appreciate how it contributes to student-centred learning by allowing students to learn through their own creations. They can bring their ideas to life by combining text, images, audio, and video to create interactive stories. With Book Creator, the possibilities for creations are endless. Students can demonstrate their learning in each subject area using various formats such as journals, reports, instructional manuals, poetry books, etc. Students and teachers alike can benefit from using Book Creator to create content.
Book Creator also promotes several multimedia learning principles. Through the app, users can intertwine words and pictures together. This promotes learning through the Multimedia, Split-Attention, Spatial and Temporal Contiguity Principles. The app also has a recording feature, which users can use to narrate their creation. This adheres nicely to the modality principle. Book Creator can also be used collaboratively, which follows the Collaboration Principle. Like any piece of educational technology, the user can make decisions that follow multimedia principles. A skillful user could use Book Creator to follow the Segmenting, Personalization, Voice, Image, Guided Discovery, Worked Examples, Self-Explanation, and Feedback Principles.
According to the SAMR framework, Book Creator allows for the transformation of learning. This technology allows for the creation of new projects and tasks that would otherwise be impossible.
Nearpod is an online student engagement platform. Teachers can create lesson that promote interactivity by using tools such as quizzes, polls, videos, drawing boards, discussion boards, imaging, and virtual reality. Nearpod also has hundreds of pre-made lessons on countless topics for all grade levels. Like any multimedia learning platform, it can be used skillfully to adhere to multimedia learning principles. For example, teachers can choose not to include irrelevant information (coherence principle). Similarly, it can be used in less than ideal ways that end up increasing cognitive load for students and decreasing learning. An example of this in relation to Nearpod would be to include the same information several times in different ways, which would increase cognitive load and decrease learning (redundancy principle). The interactivity principle says that students should be able to control the speed of instruction. This also includes the ability to pause, play, and rewind content. Nearpod can be student paced, but only if you buy the gold membership for $120 for the year.
Here are the basic features that everyone gets for free with the Silver membership:
In order to evaluate Nearpod further, I referenced this rubric for e-learning from Western University. This rubric has eight categories to reference:
Functionality: Nearpod is user-friendly, has great technical support available, and allows for adaptive engagement with the material. However, it cannot be scaled to over 40 people unless you buy a gold, platinum, or school district membership.
Accessibility: Users do not need specialized equipment or software to use Nearpod. Nearpod also meets accessibility standards and is focussed on tailoring instruction to fit the needs of diverse learners. Nearpod silver is free, but does not include all features, such as student-paced instruction. The higher levels of Nearpod are costly, and therefore not as accessible.
Technical: Users can successfully use Nearpod with any up to date operating system and do not need to download additional software.
Mobile Design: Students can access Nearpod from any mobile device.
Privacy, Data Protection, and Rights: For an in depth analysis of Nearpod’s privacy concerns, check out this website.
Social Presence: Nearpod allows teachers to control learner anonymity and also gives teachers the ability to control what a learner posts. Nearpod is not well known in my circles, and I do not think that many students are familiar with it. However, it is user-friendly and student would learn quickly how to navigate it. Nearpod, from what I can tell, does not allow for direct contact from student to student (messaging, etc.), but it does allow for larger scale collaboration on message boards curated by the teacher.
Teaching Presence: Nearpod is completely customizable and aids teachers in collecting data for assessment.
Cognitive Presence: Teachers can easily and regularly provide formative feedback for students through Nearpod. Nearpod can be used to engage higher order thinking skills, depending on the design and facilitation of the lesson by the teacher.
According to the SAMR model, Nearpod could be categorized as a substitution, augmentation, modification, or redefinition, depending how the teacher chooses to use it. It can be used to present a slide show (substitution), or present a slide show to students and have them complete activities for formative assessment on the spot (augmentation). It can also be used to do significantly change tasks (modification), and use tools like virtual reality that would not have been possible without it (redefinition).
From an instructor’s perspective, Nearpod is easy to use and seems like it would be engaging and interactive for students. I could definitely see myself using Nearpod in my teaching practice. I got the idea to use Nearpod from one of my favourite teacher instagram accounts @fantasticallyfourth (Shane Saeed). She has a great IGTV video on how to use nearpod, which I will include below:
In a short video, Dr. Ray Pastore discusses the principles and theories behind multimedia learning. Throughout the video, he emphasized that each multimedia principle must be taken with a grain of salt because every situation and learner differs slightly. He also talks about how learners have different preferences, some of which contradict the research behind certain multimedia strategies. In his video, he did not follow every multimedia principle that he talked about. For example, he did not follow the redundancy principle. This principle states that if the presenter has text written on the screen, they should not read the text out loud because it increases cognitive load and decreases retention, and therefore also learning. Another principle that Dr. Pastore did not follow is the embodiment principle, which states that learners do not necessarily learn better when the presenter is on the screen. This may differ from learner to learner, but I find it helpful when the presenter is on the screen because I find it more engaging and conversational. The last principle that was not followed in the video is the modality principle. This rule states that people learn better from graphics and narration than from graphics and printed text. Because I was sketchnoting, I actually found the test helpful because it allowed me to plan the spacing of my words and images appropriately. However, if I was just listening, I would have found the text on the screen distracting.
One principle that Dr. Pastore did follow, which I found exceptionally helpful, is the interactivity effect. This principle dictates that the teacher should allow learners to control the pace of instruction (e.g. being able to fast forward, pause, and replay). I appreciated this because I was trying to sketchnote (see below) during the video, and therefore needed to pause occasionally in order to fill in my notes.
H5P is a platform which supports the creation of interactive multimedia content. After exploring the H5P website, I have realized how helpful it would be when planning lessons with UDL in mind. Click here to read more in depth about my thoughts on the connection between UDL and multimedia learning. Check out the interactive video on the website below:
When thoughtfully created, and H5P interactive video would address many of the multimedia learning principles, such as the signalling principle, interactivity effect. The signalling principle dictates that when cues are added to indicate that a piece of information is important, it can reduce cognitive load and help students remember the information. I discussed the interactivity effect above, but I think it it worth mentioning a second time. If students can decide the speed at which they interact with the content, they are more likely to retain the material. Interactivity is vital in order to support learners of all abilities.
Thank you for writing such a thoughtful blog post, Jalem! I am really looking forward to working together throughout this course. I enjoyed your story about your grade 10 leadership teacher and his use of multimedia. It sounds like that video was engaging and impactful, which I am sure was your teacher’s intent.
I could not help but smile when I read your paragraph about Cindy Brown and her stories. I am so lucky to have had Cindy for two courses (Learning Support and Promoting Prosocial Behaviour) and I have also benefitted from her amazing stories. As I write this, I can recall several of her stories and the lessons that accompanied them. You are completely correct in saying that if we had learned those same lessons from a textbook or PowerPoint slides, they would not have had the same impact. I have always wondered whether teachers like Cindy, who use stories to teach, write the stories into their lesson plan, or whether they decide to tell it on the spot. One thing that I always appreciate about Cindy’s stories is that they always seem authentic. Authenticity, in my opinion, is a key factor in promoting student engagement.
Thank you for your thoughtful blog post, Shaylin. You made an excellent point about the impact that stories make on students, even for years after they hear them. Juliani‘s point about stories having the power to plant thoughts and emotions in the listener’s brain is powerful and I think that this is one of the reasons that stories can stick with you for so many years. Whenever I think back to a story that I remember one of my teachers telling, I always remember the emotion attached to it. This is important to keep in mind to ask ourselves when we tell stories to our own students. What do I want my students to learn from this story? How do I want my students to feel after hearing this story?
I really liked how you explained you experience with the Interactive Buzz Session. I completely relate to your feeling of freedom and openness in the classroom during the activity. I wonder how this activity might be different with different grades. What kind of adjustments do you think a teacher would need to make to make this appropriate for an upper elementary classroom? Do you think there is a way to make this activity work for a primary classroom? I would love to hear your ideas.
Thank you for such a thought-provoking blog post, Emily. I am excited to delve into the topic of multimedia learning with you. I share your interest in learning more about a learner-centred, rather than technology-centred, approach. It sounds like we had a similar elementary school experience in terms of the heavy use of non-digital multimedia. I am excited for both of us to learn about ways to incorporate digital multimedia learning into our future classrooms. Your example of interactive, multimedia learning with the gardening project is a great example of how multimedia learning can take place in a non-digital way. It is important, as educators, to provide our students with a variety of multimedia learning opportunities, both digital and non-digital. I wonder how digital media would have helped enhance student learning during that gardening project. Maybe a video on how plants grow would have been helpful for some students? I would love to hear your thoughts, as you were the one who was actually in the class.
The video that you chose to explain multimedia learning is fantastic. The narration, written text, animations, and drawings combined were extremely effective in explaining the concept of multimedia learning – thank you for sharing.
Before looking into today’s topics (and all of the articles and videos) I had not thought deeply about multimedia learning. Previously, when I thought of multimedia, I immediately thought of digital media. However, after reading the articles about using stories and interactivity to teach effectively, my understanding of multimedia has broadened substantially. One point that I think will be central throughout this course is that multimedia and interactive learning should be learner centred, rather than technology centred. I hope to delve deeper into what this will mean in my teaching practice. Technology is powerful and ever-evolving. It is important, as an educator, for me to be familiar with different tools to enhance my students’ learning experiences. However, it is vital to keep students at the forefront, rather than using technology just for the sake of it.
One example that comes to mind of using technology just for the sake of it was last semester when I was working on a PowerPoint presentation for my assessment course. At the time, I had recently learned how to insert GIFs into the presentation and ended up putting them on the majority of the slides, which I thought was engaging and innovative. Unfortunately, the GIFs ended up being quite distracting for the people viewing the slides. The GIFs took away from the text that was on each slide, and although they were funny, did not enhance the learning experience for the viewers. This was a valuable learning experience for me because it served as a reminder to use multimedia as a learning tool, rather than a “cool add-on”. GIFs have their place, just not on every slide of a presentation.
After reading the articles assigned, I have realized the importance of using multimedia in order to promote access, support, and challenge for all students. The Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Guidelines created by the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) recognizes that each learner is unique, and therefore the learning experience will look different for each of them. Teachers can use the UDL framework when designing their instructional practice to help reach all students. The UDL framework promotes having multiple means of engagement, representation, action, and expression. Multimedia learning is at the heart of these principles. This answers the question posed in the title of today’s blog post. Teachers who are adept at incorporating multimedia and interactivity into the classroom are able to best engage, support, and challenge their students. I have included a short video below describing UDL: