Using digital technology that is now available can help create presentations that are not only informative, but reusable. Computer technology should work in the background, creating an atmosphere that enhances education. Ubiquitous computing, or the use of the technology without the user being aware of it, is at our footsteps.

The art of teaching is very old and is based on the way humans communicate ideas to each other. We learn most from the interaction of humans; from parents, to preachers, to teachers.

Technology through the ages has helped teachers teach. The use of a sedimentary rock that is "chalky" on another rock that is flat and hard called slate, has been a very useful tool for communicating ideas. The invention of paper by the Chinese allowed communication to be transferred from one generation to another without interpretation.

However, limitations on one's culture can sometime impede more development. For instance, the ability to copy documents quickly allowed those nations to communicate to the masses. Logically the invention should have occurred in China where paper was developed, but the graphical language that it uses was not suitable for easy duplication. It took a language with a few characters, like the Germanic languages. Twenty three characters allowed the invention of the printing press by Johan Gutenberg (1398-1468). The European countries now would take control, with the use of the printing press, provided nations with copies of a written language. A successful example of how communication and the ability to communicate to masses increases a region's visibility.

We are now at one of these pivotal times in the history of communication. Those nations that embrace and use technology to communicate and teach will once again become leaders. However, using new technology may require a look at how to incorporate the technology into mass communications.

We need to realize that people learn from past developments. Learning builds from prior knowledge that is transferred from one human to another. Our language develops from words, sentences, paragraphs, to stories. Math develops from basic numbers to higher order manipulation of those numbers. Science builds on previous discoveries and understandings of the world. History builds on events. People learn best when the sequence is logical and repetitive.

Learning is easiest when a person is young. The brain is like a sponge, wanting and retaining as much information as you give it. Fine motor skills like writing, stimulate learning. Imprinting in the neurons of the brains successfully helps humans to not only absorb but to retain the knowledge.

Humans tend to learn through many different styles of presentations. Repetition of skills like language and math are a very effective way of learning basic building blocks. The following are some basic ways that humans absorb information.

  • The preacher style. Repetition of a few concepts over and over again.
  • The sergeant style. Repetition with forceful language, that is reinforced by actually doing the task. For instance, after 100 push ups, a soldier knows how to do push ups.
  • The entertainer style. Through emotion and style (multimedia), an entertainer grabs the attention of the audience. However, passive learning usually occurs.
  • The salesperson style. Salesperson talks to their audience. They tell them what they want to hear in order to expedite the sale.
  • The teacher style. The good teacher uses all the above styles. Through digital technology the ability to do repetition and entertainment becomes easily incorporated whereby students actually learn more effectively.

Humans learn in many different ways. Some people are more visual, while others are more sensory. Females tend to be more qualitative and males tend to be more quantitative. We are individuals, but teachers must teach to a group. The more ways of presenting a logical scope and sequence will add to the learning of all students. The human brain is mystical, but teachable.

There are many different examples of how digital technology can increase learning. The presentations that a teacher creates can be repeated over and over, enhances the child's learning. MeetingBoard is a powerful, but easy authoring program that allows the creation of multimedia presentations.

Good graphical presentation are very powerful. In this picture of the San Francisco Bay area, you can bring to students what the fault lines look like in the air. A short video clip put in the right position will enhance learning dramatically. A map like this can also be used over and over again. This graphic can be used in geography lessons, history lessons, science lessons, or language arts. There are some graphics that the more a child sees the more they will understand. It is the teachers job to find these pictures that will allow maximum learning by all students.
A slide that has minimum information, like a slide of a volcano is also very useful. The teacher then directs a students eyes to the key concept. In this slide the concept is where lava and magma are produced. The teacher draws a magma chamber and then writes "magma" as well as "lava" that would come out of the vent. A video clip of an erupting volcano, reinforces the concept that lava is produced outside the volcano. This picture can then also be used for a quiz. The "strip tease" technique allows your audience to mentally engage as you teach, is very powerful.

A sketch of the volcano should be followed by a photo of a real volcano. This adds to the learning of children. This photo of Kilauea erupting can be drawn on so the students realize the "red" is the lava. The little black dots have already been transformed into a rock (obsidian). We always have problems with getting students to understand Pele's Hair, which is a very thin piece of obsidian that cooled in that form. We also use language visuals like, "Imagine a cheese volcano, that erupts and cools....what happens if the cheese is hot and stretches and then cools? Pele's Hair." Then of course we would show them an example of Pele's hair. Multimedia at its best.

We have used the ability to "move" objects in MeetingBoard very successfully. In a graphic with a moveable Sun, we can show Kindergarten children that the Sun rises in the East and sets in the West. That same slide can be used to illustrate how the "Signs of the Zodiac" were derived. For some reason, many adults have not learned that the angle of transit of the sun during the summer is at a higher angle than in the winter. When you visually show them they seem to then understand. This is important, because the imaginary line that the sun traces in the summer to the winter is the Zodiac. The constellation in that region are the "Signs of the Zodiac." We also use that slide to illustrate to history students why the Zodiac was so important historically. People without calendars can then determine when they should plant their crop.

There are many programs available for computers. Many math and engineering programs can create graphical representations of formulas. However, to present these pictures easily sometimes can be a challenge. The "snap" function in MeetingBoard allows you to work in one program to create an image and then bring it where you can manipulate it easily for students.

Sorting is a very fundamental skill, required in many subjects. You sort flowers, numbers, events, or words. Looking for defining characteristics to sort objects is a common human trait. We use the ability to move objects to increase the audience's mental ability to sort. The audience is told that "insects" have 6 legs and "bugs" can have more. Although this is a kindergarten exercise, we have found that if adults have not learned it, sorting with MeetingBoard, is entertaining. We create a table with 2 columns and then move the little critters to their appropriate area. Mental engagement with a little flair by the instructor is valuable to learning.

In some situations sounds are important. In language we learn words by having a word repeated many times. In other subjects having the sounds of birds or dinosaurs enhances the lecture. Linking a sound file with a graphic or word is easy in MeetingBoard.

The size of a graphic is also important. To make a small picture large, without losing quality (vector image) is important. Importing pictures into MeetingBoard as "Metafiles" can enhance any presentation.

Digital technology allows educators a wealth of multimedia techniques at their fingertips. But the ability to create a logical "storyboard" is very important. The pictures, video clips, sound clips, and other multimedia presentation styles only enhances the scope and sequence. Scope and Sequence whether in a lecture to adults or children is important. A lecture, presentation, or even a movie with a storyboard can leave people "knowing" versus people "wondering" why they came. 

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