Audio-Visual Technology: Changing Education As We Know It

During the latest EC&I 833 class, Lisa, Tammy, Kaileigh and Tarina did a fantantastic presentation on the history and use of audio visual (AV) technology in education. I learned that the dawn of AV technology began in 1870 with the invention of the “magic lantern” and continues to be a field that is changing rapidly, even today. How we teach and learn has been greatly impacted as a result of this kind of technology. The following video provides a brief description into what we learned about the history of AV technology.

As an educator I would have to agree with the video that AV technology has changed “how we teach, learn and has created a new sub-culture of students”. To further support the use of AV technology in the classroom, the article The Importance of Audio Visual Technology in Education, points out two critical reasons for using audio-visual technologies such as smartboards, DVDs, iPads, mobile phones etc. in the classroom:

  1. It creates a stimulating and interactive environment which is more conducive to learning.
  2. We live in an audio visual age which means that having the skills to use AV equipment is integral to the future employment prospects.

I would agree with the article that these are two strong reasons that support the use of AV technologies in the classroom. The article also points out two weaknesses of using AV technology in the classroom which includes:

  1. Schools can be reluctant to recognize the benefits that the technology has to offer.
  2. A child’s technological ability often outweighs that of the teacher.

Now while at times, I do agree that a child’s experience with AV technology does sometimes outweigh that of the teacher, I can not pick out one day since I started teaching in 2012, where I have not used some form of audio-visual technology. I disagree that just because a student may know more about a certain technology that teachers are simply not using it. I also feel that schools, especially in the past few years have been working hard to ensure that new AV technology is readily available for use in the classroom. I would say what is limiting the use of new AV technologies such as iPads and Chromebooks in the classroom is economical and is due in large part to the amount of money school divisions have to purchase such devices. For example, some schools are now 1:1 and every student has his/own device, while other schools either have class sets of iPads or Chromebooks that can be booked out for classroom use or have a certain number of devices in each classroom.

While there may be limitations to the amount or type of new AV technologies available in schools, this type of technology has not only had a profound impact on the way we teach and learn in the classroom, but has also been impacting how students learn at home for decades. One such way is through educational TV programing such as Sesame Street. The following video provides a brief history of the creation of the hit TV show Sesame Street.

Dr. Neil Postman was quite critical of this type of educational programing. Postman once wrote that “We now know that Sesame Street encourages children to love school only if school is like Sesame Street. Which is to say we now know that Sesame Street undermines what the traditional idea of schooling represents. As an educator and someone who grew up watching Sesame Street, I strongly disagree with Postman’s statement. However, after reading fellow classmate Dean Vendramin’s blog on the subject, I gained a bit of a greater appreciation for the context in which Postman was speaking.

“Whereas a classroom is a place of social interaction, the space in front of a television set is a private preserve. Whereas in a classroom, one may ask a teacher questions, one can ask nothing of a television screen. Whereas school is centered on the development of language, television demands attention to images. Whereas attending school is a legal requirement, watching television is an act of choice. Whereas in school, one fails to attend to the teacher at the risk of punishment, no penalties exist for failing to attend to the television screen. Whereas to behave oneself in school means to observe rules of public decorum, television watching requires no such observances, has no concept of public decorum. Whereas in a classroom, fun is never more than a means to an end, on television it is the end in itself.” (source)

Now while the contexts may not be the same, the end goal of both classrooms and TV shows such as Sesame Street is to help students learn. I personally think that Sesame Street provides a great context in which to kick start a child’s love for learning. In addition, even more exciting AV technology is being developed for classroom use, called Virtual Reality (VR).

As described in the video “VR Cardboard” can be used to allow students to not just see a different place in the world, but actually get to experience it, as if they were there in person.

In conclusion, I think that AV technologies have truly helped make the classroom and home a place where students are engaged in their learning. I do think that part of our jobs as educators is to entertain students in learning. However, keeping our students entertained is not the only goal. Just as Sesame Street advocated to “motivate children across the globe in the act of learning”, I too think that as educators today we have a lot of tools in our toolbox to help students be motivated learners and to take charge in what they want to learn to be prepared for their futures.

2 thoughts on “Audio-Visual Technology: Changing Education As We Know It”

  1. The brief history of AV nerds video makes a compelling point that the ‘future of education is intertwined with the future of technology’, and I agree that most schools make an honest attempt to keep up with that technology given some budget restrictions they may have. When I look back on my 11-years of teaching I have definitely incorporated more technology into my lessons; however, there is plenty of room for improvement! Thanks for sharing these videos!

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  2. Great post. Glad you found the info in my blog useful. I think sometimes kiddos get a little too much credit when it comes to tech. They can be good on their phones, games, and things that might be more entertainment-related but in my experience, they are not as ‘hip’ when it comes to using tech in learning at school (which would lead me down another path about what is learning at school). I’m excited about the opportunties that VR offers. Great chance to immerse and empower students in their learning.

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