Multimedia education. Luckily I am in Austin when the big festival South by South West is in town. Besides the famous Music and Film program, it also has an Education program.SXSW Education Expo 2014 features local and national educational institutes, public school districts, smart student start-ups, with special attention for STEM educational tools. It attracts a diverse group of teachers, businesses, advocates and students. It runs from March 4 till 6.
Today I searched for a tool that would empower teachers to create multimedia, interactive, compelling lessons and share these with their students. A friend of mine teaches at the University of Leiden (Holland) and has a hard time finding an easy to use, yet sufficient lecturing tool for his department. He and his colleagues are in need of an environment where they can easily design their lessons, share them with their students and test the knowledge the students were able to gain from the material offered. I am excited about the following tools for diverse reasons.
Simple tool. Buncee is a simple online creation and presentation tool with a chat feature added as well. The look and feel is more suitable for high school students than for university teachers, but its simplicity is striking. The multimedia multi-slide lessons can be shared with students by sending them a link to the presentation. No account needed.
E-learning environment. Memarden aims to create a safe social network for teachers, students and parents. Multimedia lessons can be created and even sold to its community. Reports about students achievements can be made and shared. The look and feel is less simple and more traditional than Buncee. Memarden offers a rich e-learning environment to its participants.
Another social platform? I wonder if students need another social platform as offered by these services. Both tools offer a social platform to engage students, teachers and even parents. I wonder if these target groups will make the effort to get to know these platforms and use it instead of the platforms already used by schools for their intranet communication, grading and design tools such as Powerpoint and presentation tools such as Youtube. Their simplified editing and presentation feature is interesting though.
Content from experts. Another interesting service I encountered was MIT K12 video’s. Students of this top university come up with topics and together with a film crew turn them into understandable 5 minute video‘s. It’s reliable content and services 1st till 12th grade students. These video’s are a good start of a lesson or an answer to a question.
Question their knowledge. Sapling Learning has made it their business to design questions complementary to almost every standard textbook used in college. I think it is important to question students in order to know if they have implemented the material. Sapling Learning makes it easy for teachers to design (science and economics) homework and analyze the efficiency of their lessons by standardized questions and answers.
Take home? I am not stunned by the tools and services I found. They are not that new or smart. But teachers can’t handle too smart, they need to teach their lessons and be supported by technology. Technology can make education more simple and more efficient like these tools do.