When we teach science and math we are helping our students develop a framework for understanding the world in which they live. When their framework only consists of canned knowledge contained within textbooks, we are not preparing them for the 21st Century world outside the textbook.
Bringing digital media into the classroom moves teaching beyond the textbook and makes connections to the world in which our students actually live. When presented digital media within the contexts of problem solving or project based learning situations, our students will view how the information within their textbooks actually applies to them.
Online Tools: Digital Media Resources
Incorporating the right digital media is one the most effective means for engaging students’ and helping them understand a difficult concept or improve their long-term retention of knowledge.
So what online tools provide digital media needed to engage our students in problem solving and problem based learning situations in science and math?
- The Futures Channel – produces and distributes free high quality multimedia content which teachers can use to enliven curriculum and engage their students in real life experiences. The videos produced by The Futures Channel help students answer the age-old question, “When am I ever going to use this?”
- Flickr – is a photo-sharing site which provides free access to thousands of digital images. Examples of images which can be used in science and math include: Marine Life and Geometry. You can also build your own collection for use with students. You can have students submit digital images of specific concepts or take your own and post them on Flickr for student use. You can also create a collection from the resources on the site. An additional advantage of using this service is that you can limit access to classroom collections to avoid potential problems with student and the web.
- Teacher Tube – provides digital videos and photos organized on tags and channels – High School, Middle School, Elementary, Science, and Math. They are downloadable and you can use the entire video or just clips from a video for a lesson or activity.
Digital Media Resources: Student and Teacher Created
The following are some of the digital media resources you can use with your students – both online and in the classroom.
- Vimeo – allows you and your students to post videos created in or outside the classroom related to science and math content.
- VoiceThread – allows you and your students to add audio, video, and text as part of conversations concerning science or math content.
- Apple iMovie – plug in virtually any digital camcorder and iMovie starts importing your video for editing and presentation.
- Government Copyright Free Images – provides a national digital library of videos and images science and math.
- Animoto – provides an array of tools for creating videos in your classroom.
- Podcasting – student or teacher created podcasts provide a good digital medium for student expression of concepts, projects, and related themes.
To encourage students to become active viewers of the media you share during problem solving or problem based learning situations, try the following strategies.
- Show a short video clip or digital image of a discrepant event.
- Show a short video clip and ask them “What can you do with this?” For example – try this 16 oz timer video to make connections with problem solving and critical thinking in science and math.
- Show students a digital image related to a specific concept and ask them to consider whether the image has been manipulated in any manner – fosters critical thinking.
- Stop videos at key points to encourage more discussion.
These strategies build students’ digital media-literacy skills, along with their understanding of the science and math content.
Digital Media follows the old adage “A picture is worth a thousand words!” when it comes to science and math. The use of visuals is ideal for helping students construct background knowledge for developing a better understanding of science and math concepts.