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Multimedia school books in education.


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#16 Dalibor Svoboda

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Posted 07 March 2005 - 03:53 PM

"Is the multimedia schoolbook not just another example of an ICT solution in search of an undefined educational problem? It's not good enough to develop an electronic application, however worthy, in isolation, just because the developers can. More effort has to be spent on devising ways of integrating it into a traditional school curriculum. Conventional schoolbooks are familiar resources, they're compact and portable. They don't need batteries. And they leave the pupil room for imagination, room to supply their own visual and auditory enhancements. What do they say about radio, where the sole medium is sound? The pictures are better!" David Wilson


Yes, I do agree ….. but …. And this is a BIG but.

All the technical things like “batteries” , lap tops, connections were at that time ( and even more today) increasingly finding their way into the educational process! So none of the teachers can honestly say there were (or are) technical problems when trying to use multimedia school books.

Furthermore, these multimedia school books didn’t aspire (after a while when the initial hopes were calmed down)) to change completely the education.
The professional producers learned the lessons of newspapers in education, radio in education, educational television called once “a university in the air” in education, and as I believe, just tried to make an exchange between the “old” books for a “new” ones.
And these “new” ones were planned to be more adaptable to reality than the old ones which worked mostly with a help of rather sterile descriptions.

There have been also suggestions by some postings that the multimedia school books could be outdated soon after being delivered to schools …… It’s basically nonsense. The Knowledge Foundation has been producing Internet based schoolbooks where whole chapters could be constantly updated or even completely changed in order to keep them in forefront of the knowledge. Of course the schools or individual teachers were supposed to pay small amount of money to use them but often less than the payment for a new traditional written book.

As you see I’m right now only arguing for a NEW kind of school books (similar to the multimedia school books of the ninetieth I once involved myself to produce) which will more truly correspond to the needs of the schools of twenty first century. And which could easily be produced by a new technology! So why are they not inside our schools?

Is it an impossible dream?

#17 Graham Davies

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Posted 07 March 2005 - 05:05 PM

Wearing my business hat (I am a partner in a business that has been developing and selling software to schools since 1982)...

Sales of multimedia CD-ROMs to UK schools have dropped dramatically in the last two years. Sales began to reach a peak towards the end of the 1990s and then took a nosedive in the year 2000, forcing several small businesses into bankruptcy. Sales picked up a bit during 2001-2003, but now they have reached a record low. This appears to be a common trend among most of our competitors, all of whom report on similar experiences.

How does one explain this trend? I'm not sure, but the director of one the businesses (Talkfast) that went into liquidation towards the end of 2000 blamed falling sales of multimedia software on free resources that can be obtained via the Internet and the fact that CD-ROMs don't wear out and schools therefore buy them once and once only, even when updates/upgrades are offered.

#18 Dalibor Svoboda

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Posted 08 March 2005 - 09:12 PM

Wearing my business hat (I am a partner in a business that has been developing and selling software to schools since 1982)...

Sales of multimedia CD-ROMs to UK schools have dropped dramatically in the last two years. Sales began to reach a peak towards the end of the 1990s and then took a nosedive in the year 2000, forcing several small businesses into bankruptcy. Sales picked up a bit during 2001-2003, but now they have reached a record low. This appears to be a common trend among most of our competitors, all of whom report on similar experiences.



Is the whole idea of getting into the schools a new multimedia school books dead now? Is there any way out of this problem?

- Another and yet better produced multimedia products? Do you have any suggestions how that could be done …. to suite the teachers demand?

- A better and more sorted pedagogy based on the immense amount of Internet facts? Is it possible? Most of the teachers are already claiming to be overwhelmed by the teaching assignment.

- Going back to the traditional text books and letting students to find out and be helped by a support for their learning in the evenings at homes by ad hocks "on line lessons" from internet?

I strongly believe that the focus of education is nothing else than students. It is their knowledge …. their feelings towards every single school day …… their expectations that counts ……

Could we, the professional teachers smooth student’s way into the grown up life in a such way that their learning are effective, useful and meaningful? What methods are there at our hands to get this goal?

I must confess that I do feel desperation here and there .……. there seems not to be any easy solutions.

Even the embraced ICT education does have enormous difficulties to find it’s way into the classrooms every days pedagogical work ………And we really tried to promote it ( with the help of all means available) for at least the last 15 years ….

#19 D Letouzey

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Posted 08 March 2005 - 10:00 PM

Sales picked up a bit during 2001-2003, but now they have reached a record low.
How does one explain this trend?


You blame "free resources that can be obtained via the Internet ".
I shall agree with a website like "Les mondes normands".
http://www.mondes-normands.caen.fr/

But you know that education is a craft, either individual or collective.
Internet is a perfect tool to exchange on school practises, and to experiment ways which do not need to be perfect at a start. Several presentations focus on this aspect.
I do agree with their authors.

And I shall add 3 details :
- Some cederoms are made and sold by institutions who don't really seem to know what is Education. They use a "push" technique whereas internet relies more on "pull".
- Some cederom contents can be very disappointing from a teaching POV.
- Their price and the limitation of copyright are usually exorbitant for a school budget.
In some cases, computing seems to be used as a toll on education.

Daniel

Edited by D Letouzey, 09 March 2005 - 09:59 AM.


#20 Graham Davies

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Posted 09 March 2005 - 02:33 AM

As a language teacher I am appalled by the poor quality of most Web-based materials relating to my subject area. CD-ROMs are superior in many respects, e.g. I have yet to see a website for language learners that offers the possibility of listening to a word or phrase, recording it and playing it back - so that the learner can hear what he/she sounds like. This is what I consider to be a sine qua non of language learning in the early stages - an activity that has been possible since the advent of the first affordable tape recorders in the 1950s. Yes, the Internet does offer many exciting possibilities, but there are an awful lot of point-and-click-let's-move-on-quick websites that offer very little in terms of interaction and appear to have learned nothing from the early days of Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL), when discrete intrinsic and extrinsic feedback played a key role. I am currently learning basic Polish via a set of three CD-ROMs (in anticipation of two forthcoming visits to Poland) that allow me to record and play back and record my own voice - essential for building up one's confidence in coming to terms with those difficult Polish consonant clusters! I searched in vain for a website that offered such a possibility.

#21 Dalibor Svoboda

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Posted 10 March 2005 - 08:20 AM

I have yet to see a website for language learners that offers the possibility of listening to a word or phrase, recording it and playing it back - so that the learner can hear what he/she sounds like. 


Well, do we really need the Internet to do this particular task? Shouldn’t we use the Internet (and the multimedia school books) in the areas where they are superior all others pedagogical resources. And at the same time not forgot that a simple tape-recorder is still good enough in many situations in today’s education.

It seems to me that in our excitement for a new pedagogical inventions (like Internet for example) we do tend to disregard old pedagogical resources which are still working well in classrooms situation.

Nevertheless your longing for something which, if I remember it correctly was on the verge to be supported by Knowledge Foundation ( we did receive application promising to create multimedia school book with this function) but was rejected in final round by two professors from two different universities as being to behaviouristic in it’s pedagogical approach!

#22 David Richardson

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Posted 10 March 2005 - 08:30 AM

Nevertheless your longing for  something which, if I remember it correctly was on the verge to be supported by Knowledge Foundation ( we did receive application promising to create multimedia school book with this function) but was rejected in final round by two professors from two different universities as being to behaviouristic in it’s pedagogical approach!

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Just a note to language teachers outside Sweden who might be a bit puzzled by Dalibor's last point.

Language teaching in Sweden is generally quite a long way behind the times. The paradigm in schools is still straight grammar-translation (it's like going back to before L.G. Alexander in EFL teaching!), though audio-lingual methods swept in with language labs in the 1960s (because the accompanying materials were mostly produced in the USA) and promptly swept out again, leaving an awful smell behind them, since a lot of money had been invested for very meagre results (does this sound like ICT?).

One consequence has been that the official experts on language learning here tend to have a huge blind spot when it comes to the teaching and learning of how to pronounce languages. In turn, this means that they tend to have a knee-jerk reaction to anything connected with pronunciation practice, assuming it to be crude behaviourist audio-lingualism.

You might wonder how come Swedes speak reasonably good English anyway. Well, to quote one of the leading lights in language didactics in Sweden (Eie Ericsson, former Gothenburg University) "Swedish pupils learn English despite school, not because of it." I shouldn't complain, really, since it's largely the ineffectiveness of school-based teaching which provides people like me with jobs (since, sooner or later, quite a lot of people need to learn to speak English properly!).

#23 John Simkin

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Posted 10 March 2005 - 08:58 AM

You might wonder how come Swedes speak reasonably good English anyway. Well, to quote one of the leading lights in language didactics in Sweden (Eie Ericsson, former Gothenburg University) "Swedish pupils learn English despite school, not because of it." I shouldn't complain, really, since it's largely the ineffectiveness of school-based teaching which provides people like me with jobs (since, sooner or later, quite a lot of people need to learn to speak English properly!).

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


I assume the reason for this concerns the decision to subtitle rather than dub English speaking films and television programmes. Considering the large number of English language media products (including popular music) available in Sweden, I would have thought this has had an important influence on learning the language. One thing that I have noticed from my visits to Sweden is the skill in the way they pronounce English words. I suppose this is one of the advantages of learning a language via the media rather than in the school classroom.

I remember a case of a German girl attending my school in Heathfield who failed her German ‘O’ level. When I asked her why this was (she was for example a good history student) she replied it was because of the teaching she received. In fact, her teacher's German accent was so bad she could not understand what he was saying in lessons.

#24 Graham Davies

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Posted 10 March 2005 - 10:54 AM

Dalibor asks:

Well, do we really need the Internet to do this particular task? Shouldn’t we use the Internet (and the multimedia school books) in the areas where they are superior all others pedagogical resources. And at the same time not forgot that a simple tape-recorder is still good enough in many situations in today’s education.


No, we don’t need the Internet for this particular task, which is why I always advocate using a blend of Internet and CD-ROM resources. CD-ROMs enable this task to be achieved more efficiently than the old AAC tape recorder, because you don’t have the problem of rewinding and finding where a recording/playback starts and finishes. As for such a task being “too behaviouristic”, this is just an ideology. In the early stages of language learning, e.g. in the stage that I am at right now, struggling to get my tongue round unfamiliar sounds in Polish, I need lots and lots of practice, i.e. my behaviour patterns need to be altered. I am happy to accept this. I agree 100% with David:

One consequence has been that the official experts on language learning here tend to have a huge blind spot when it comes to the teaching and learning of how to pronounce languages. In turn, this means that they tend to have a knee-jerk reaction to anything connected with pronunciation practice, assuming it to be crude behaviourist audio-lingualism.


I went to an open day at The Ashcombe School, Dorking, last week. The Head of Modern Foreign Languages, Helen Myers, does not allow younger children to access the Internet during class time as it is not very productive. She uses mainly CD-ROM resources that help the children acquire listening and pronunciation skills. We observed children (aged around 11-12) working on selected CD-ROMs and then we (most of us were teachers) were challenged to use a CD-ROM to learn how to recognise and pronounce the numbers 1-20 in Mandarin Chinese. It worked!
See: http://www.ashcombe....iculum/modlang/

Regarding John's comment on films in Sweden being subtitled rather than dubbed, I have two Dutch friends in Rotterdam who regularly watch BBC TV. They make extensive use of the subtitles for the deaf (closed captions) when watching a programme in which the language is delivered too quickly or in an unfamiliar accent. Once they get used to the language they switch off the subtitles. There is a good deal of research that shows how closed captions can contribute to the development of listening skills. Robert Vanderplank is/was one of the leading researchers in this area. My two Dutch friends certainly have few problems understanding English and have near-native English accents

#25 David Richardson

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Posted 10 March 2005 - 01:25 PM

I think that this topic of teaching and learning pronunciation is so important that it deserves its own thread. I've started this topic in the EFL Forum:

http://educationforu...?showtopic=3443

#26 Graham Davies

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Posted 11 March 2005 - 08:17 AM

I’m just off to Poland for a few days. I’ll let you know if the CD-ROM I have been using to practise pronunciation worked.

A couple of references:

The software advertised at this website, Eyepeak, seems to offer some potential for pronunciation practice:
http://www.eyespeak.info

So does the software at the Sky Software site:
http://www.skysoftwa...nunciation.html

The Encounters series of CD-ROMs (published by Hodder & Stoughton), which we began to work on back in 1993, offered the possibility of role-plays into which students could slot their own recordings. They could make as many attempts as they liked and then save their best effort on to flopy disk, which could then be marked by the teacher:
http://www.camsoftpa.../encounters.htm
Feedback from students in an extensive evaluation study indicated that this was one of the most useful aspects of the Encounters series

#27 Dalibor Svoboda

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Posted 11 March 2005 - 07:35 PM

I have yet to see a website for language learners that offers the possibility of listening to a word or phrase, recording it and playing it back - so that the learner can hear what he/she sounds like. This is what I consider to be a sine qua non of language learning in the early stages - an activity that has been possible since the advent of the first affordable tape recorders in the 1950s.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



When going through my old floppy disque ( this debate stimulated me to do that) containing the documentation of evaluations of the applications received by The Knowledge Foundation, I did discover that there have been much more that one application asking for funding to create a multimedia school book of your desire … The applications for French pronunciation books, and then again Spanish pronunciation books …….

They have been all refuted because the evaluators searched for a new (and higher quality) of teaching. The multimedia school books did have this as a goal ……

What is yours attitude towards “a new (and higher quality) of teaching”?

How could it be achieved in the light of all we know about internet teaching today?

Edited by Dalibor Svoboda, 11 March 2005 - 07:41 PM.


#28 David Wilson

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Posted 11 March 2005 - 09:25 PM

They have been all refuted because the evaluators searched for a new (and higher quality) of teaching. The multimedia school books did have this as a goal ……

What is yours attitude towards “a new (and higher quality) of teaching”?

How could it be achieved in the light of all we know about internet teaching today?


Call me old-fashioned, but I still believe that innovation and quality in teaching are the responsibility of the teacher and not the software. Was a proper needs analysis done to determine whether there was a demand for such pronunciation tools? Did the developers take the trouble to produce a suite of model lessons exemplifying how the programs might be integrated into existing schemes of work and into classroom practice? Did they consult teachers and ask them to pilot their programs with real classes? If so, did they listen to, and act upon, the feedback they received? Did the evaluators make a subjective judgement when they turned down the developers' proposals, or were they acting in accordance with a transparent list of criteria agreed nationally by policy-makers and classroom practitioners? Is there a consensus when it comes to defining "higher quality teaching" or is this notion simply in the eye of the beholder?

David Wilson
http://www.specialed...ionalneeds.com/

#29 Dalibor Svoboda

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Posted 14 March 2005 - 04:33 PM

Short answers to at least some of your questions.

The individuals or groups behind pronunciation tools which were planned to be incorporated inside their future multimedia products was/were very often active or retired teachers. I believe that they always built their product on the ground of their own experience from teaching. As I mentioned before these multimedia school books were not chosen for funding subsequently never produced inside the domain of The Knowledge Foundation. The behaviouristic approach to teaching was the key word when refused.

The professional publishers who applied for funding mostly planned multimedia school books without pronunciation tools. Few of them had been chosen for funding.

The national criteria’s for higher level of teaching and learning were defined as:

- Cross-curriculum teaching and learning

- Pedagogy and schoolbooks must support students own way of learning, students own way to reach his own knowledge.

- Students should learn by the method of asking question and searching for answers.

#30 D Letouzey

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Posted 23 March 2005 - 09:48 PM

I have used this interesting seminar to write and send some questions to my fellow teachers on the H-Francais list :
http://clioweb.free....eda/manuelf.htm

I shall translate just 3 :

- What is your point of view ?
A teacher using a new tool sold by a publisher ?
An author having to imagine and organise pedagogical activities, to write the scientific content, to select useful documents, and to work with full-time programmers ?

- How do you see the relationship between these multimedia tools and the textbooks we are using ? In France, these textbooks have several uses. They can help the student who discovers a subject. Can these new tools combine this with new ways of learning ?

( at my school, some students have had to write a project.
To do this, they have found a book. They have scanned an image of the cover. But they have forgot to read the book.
:ph34r:

- How do these multimedia schoolbooks take in account the students 'needs and levels ? It should be useful to have 2 or more entries on each subject, one for a quick reading, another for a deeper study.

An important study has been made by the FING :
http://www.fing.org/....php?num=5062,1

Daniel




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