Friday, 13 May 2016

Multimedia in ELT

image credits: Robert Campbell
Integrating multimedia tools into teaching English supports the implementation of high-quality instruction and explores new issues in higher education. It fosters the pedagogical orientation from instructor-centered to learner-centered instruction. Multimedia tools like audio software, power point presentation, flash animation, and video are used in teaching English. The need for analysing these tools is becoming crucial nowadays.
English Language Teaching is one of the fastest growing sectors in the world. The use of new technologies is an integral and driving component of this growth. Computers deliver multimedia presentations for entertainment, advertising, or education. Edutainment is the term used to refer to the applications which incorporate multimedia entertainment with educational objectives. Multimedia incorporates text, audio, graphics, animations, or real video into English lessons.
Curriculum developers and instructional designers collaborate with skilled teachers and subject experts to create effective, integrated learning strategies which strengthen teachers’ professional skills, make optimal use of classroom time, and broaden student access to learning materials. Audio Streaming, Power Point Presentations, Flash or Java Animation, Video, etc. are the different multimedia tools used in teaching English.
image credits: opened web
Vision and hearing are the dominant senses. Multimedia can provide a sensory and real learning experience; it presents a greater potential for learning. Audio software contains options like play, stop, record, etc. It does not contain images or animations. Power point presentation contains text and images. Audio files can be inserted, if necessary. Flash animations contain text, audio, images, and animations. Videos can be played in any media player. It contains sub-texts for easy understanding of the conversations.
Multimedia plays an important role in all the stages of second language acquisition. Multimedia tools are used widely by second language learners. The different multimedia tools available to teachers include video and data projectors, videos, Internet, and course management programs.
There are many advantages of using multimedia tools in the language classroom. These include more active learning, diversified teaching methods, better student attention, less time and energy for professors, and visual stimulation. However, there are some downfalls to using technology when teaching the courses. They are equipment failures, need for back-up plans, anxiety for teachers, time spent learning new technologies, etc.
The advantages for using technology often outweigh the disadvantages. Many of the problems with using technology and learning materials can be overcome by testing the equipments beforehand and learning how to properly use each multimedia tool. Multimedia has the potential for much more than text-based communication of ideas. It alleviates the loneliness of books, because it is interactive. Multimedia enables text, images, sound, and video to be combined into one and plays an important role in teaching English.

Why choosing multimedia resources?
Multimedia is becoming indispensable in the classrooms. It allows teachers to diversify their lectures, display more information, and enhance student learning. It helps them save time and energy; it allows for more attention to be paid to the course content. There are different multimedia tools available in the market. Audio streaming, PPT, animation, and video are quite familiar with the teachers and students. Pronunciation, accent, vocabulary building, note-taking or note-making skills, reading comprehension, writing skills, etc. are taught using the multimedia tools. There are different purposes for analysing the multimedia tools:
  • To decide whether the multimedia tool has had the intended effect;
  •  To identify what effect the multimedia tool has had;
  • To justify future courses of action;
  • To identify areas for improvement in a multimedia tool.
Multimedia tools prove to be effective in teaching English. However, they are not tailor-made. Teachers should analyse them predictively and retrospectively to use them effectively in the classroom. Feedback from the teachers and students can be utilised to improve the efficiency of the multimedia lessons. Multimedia tools should be used appropriately and frequently to increase the scores of the ESL students.
To sum up:
Cognitive models for multimedia learning with animated pedagogical agents (image credits: db-thueringen)
You may also like to have a look at Richard Mayer's Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning.

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