Multimedia tools for developing creativity in the English classroom

The article stresses the need to use online tools for 'bringing culture' into the classroom in a non-native envi­ronment. From a long list of multimedia tools we have suggested Prezi as a valuable teaching tool to use in and beyond the classroom as it gives students 'ownership' for their learning and develops creative skills. The instructions and benefits of employing the presentation tool in foreign language learning. Moreover media and information literacy education is regarded as a tool for achieving students' intellectual and creative per­formance in light of increased availability and new uses of mass media and communication. The author con­cludes the paper by saying that, along with the expansion of multimedia tools, research and practice should be constantly encouraged to improve our understanding of all aspects of the use of the tools in various contexts.

Rapid development of technologies has been integrating into all spheres of life, including education. What national education prioritizes today is to insure learner-centered approach in learning and enhancing students creativity through a variety of multimedia education tools to prepare competitive specialists that can get through a professional rivalry all over the world. Traditional universities will survive in if it integrates into e-learning environment and insures a continuous vocational training of teachers.

Great teachers use different media because the more ways you try to sneak information into the student brain, the more likely it is to actually get in and stay there!

In this regard, Information and Communication Technologies have recently gained groundswell of in­terest. It is a significant research area for many scholars around the globe. Their nature has highly changed the face of education over the last few decades.

There are a large number of online tools that can be used for foreign language learning. Based on their main functions and features, the online tools are classified into twelve categories: learning/content manage­ment systems; communication; live and virtual worlds; social networking and bookmarking; blogs and wikis; presentation; resource sharing; Website creation; Web exercise creation; Web search engines; dictionaries and concordances and utilities.

Dealing with the exciting possibilities of new media, we must remember that the fundamentals of great teaching — mastery of our subjects, compelling questions for students, and passion for learning a language. In terms of facilitating the foreign language acquisition process, Bush asserts that we need to find out «where and when during the foreign language acquisition processes each technique and tool can be applied to achieve maximum benefit» [1; 453]. In a similar vein, Garrett states that «the availability of tools and re­sources that make possible student use of such aids does not guarantee that students will, in fact, use them in the way or to the extent that developers intend; only carefully structured assignments and follow-up work can effectively promote such use» [2; 722]. She also says, «Being familiar with digital tools is not enough; students need guidelines on how to use them specifically for the purpose of acquiring greater language profi-ciency» [3; 730]. This implies that educators need to be knowledgeable and skilful enough to instruct and guide students when and how to use which tool for effective language learning. Best computer based activi­ties are likely to be planned and conducted by competent teachers utilizing online tools effectively and effi­ciently.

To support innovative pedagogy teachers' intensive use of ICT is crucial, but it is still unavailable for a greater number of teachers due to some reasons. To investigate inhibiting factors to ICT use, 50 teachers from local and regional schools were asked which factors affected the school's capacity to provide ICT teaching and learning 'a lot', somewhat', 'a little', 'not at all', factor analysis revealed three sets of obstacles, for each of which scales were generated:

  1. 'Equipment': insufficient or out of date/faulty computers, interactive whiteboards and slow internet connection
  2. 'Pedagogy': lack of teacher skills, technical and pedagogical support, content (including in the local language), difficulty of integration of ICT and lack of models for using ICT in teaching
  3. 'Goal': parental and teacher opposition to the use of ICT, benefits of ICT not clear and the use of ICT not being a goal in the school.

Further analysis of the data shows that 86% of the pollees are not aware of free online services (weebly, goanimate). Only 14% feel free to use Prezi in the classroom.

Therefore, we would like to focus on one of major advances appeared in the last few years are web 2.0.

One of the web 2.0 applications and a kind of presentation tool is known to be Prezi. It is an impressive presentation tool that uses a single canvas instead of a sequence of traditional slides (Power Point) which allows lying out your ideas, media, linking them through non-linear transitions from one concept to the next. So text, images, videos and other presentation objects are placed on the canvas and it is grouped together in frames. This type of multimedia presentation is successfully developing in academic environment.

Ethan Watrall, columnist for the Chronicle of Higher Education graphically illustrates the difference be­tween PowerPoint and Prezi software. He notes that in challenging the presentation paradigm: Prezi, discuss­es how it's still possible to get stuck in the paradigm of traditional lecturing — even with careful avoidance of what he terms «Crappy PowerPoint Syndrome».

If to sum up the peculiarities of two presentation tools we may resume that firstly, Prezi is a web based and non linear, when the latter is an installed application. Secondly, working with Prezi enables you to set an order and progress through the points one by one, while it's alternative fails to do so. Thirdly, Prezi allows you to create exciting and interactive presentations.

Prezi presentation is free to use and once it is saved it can be opened at any computer which it makes it easy for educators as a teaching tool. Teachers can use in different ways, such as accompanying a lecture or lesson in the classroom or study material at home. Students can get the access to viewing a certain presenta­tion out of classes.

There is a variety of resources to start your Prezi presentations and making them better. For students who may be a little timid around technology, having some instructions written down goes a long way in helping them be comfortable in using it.

Some sequence of steps for creating Prezi [3]:

  • create an account (http//prezi.com)
  • create your Prezi (click on the Create New Prezi button)

One way to create a Prezi is to begin with a single frame with a heading and some related content (e.g a text or picture). Next, add another frame within the first with additional content or shift the map completely and create a separate frame altogether. This allows you to show your initial outline of material, but as you drill down into aspects of your content, your presentation follows suit. It may sound confusing, but creating a Prezi is made easy through the Prezi Wheel. The Wheel is an interface used to add and edit text, insert imag­es and videos, create frames, and design a path for your presentation. It can be difficult to adjust to the non-traditional, non-linear format of Prezi.

  • manage your Prezi

The management of spacing and dimensions of frames can be tricky until you get past the initial learn­ing curve. Fortunately, the online tutorial is extremely helpful with showing you the ropes from the begin­ning.

  • edit your Prezi
  • resize your text, images and video in Prezi (Transformation zebra is the way you can scale, rotate or move the text or files in a Pezi)
  • start your presentation (click on Show)

Prezi is a new frontier for presentations of all kinds. It should become as an effective tool for any visual aid at work, in student organizations, and in the classroom. Experts indicate that such tools can bring culture into the classroom as educators and students can use authentic materials (audio, video, a variety of pictures) in the target language. Such the process of creating Prezi presentations reinforces students' creativity. Tak­ing into account all the features and benefits of the program we have developed five useful ways to imple­ment within English classroom.

Prezi is a helpful tool to develop virtual graphic organizers or word charts. The benefit to using Prezi as a way to create organizers or words charts is its interactive and expressive nature. It allows students the op­tion of creating more dimensions to explore a topic and to incorporate their thoughts and ideas into a focused venue. For example, students can use Prezi to map the relationships among the complex array of characters of their favorite books or films, incorporating links to websites, videos, and images. Displaying information in this way caters to students' learning styles and multiple intelligences. Using Prezi also allows students to more deeply explore the relationships presented by visually seeing the connections as well as delving into the content presented in the links.

Additionally, Prezi can be used as a tool for assessment. As a replacement of or supplement to a tradi­tional 14-point, Times New Roman, double-spaced, five-paragraph essay, a student can use Prezi to express the same thoughts and ideas they would in a paper through a more visual medium. Through Prezi students can insert video, upload images, and link to websites and sources in order to better weave their research within their final assessment and demonstrate their process of inquiry. For example a short-response essay paper is turned into a Prezi presentation where the student has inserted various media to illustrate their per­sonal view on the film they last watched in the classroom (in our case it is «Freedom writers»).

Our next idea for using Prezi within the classroom is as a tool for analyzing reading passage ('Kramer versus Kramer' by Avery Corman). Similar to written annotation, Prezi enables users to develop and record ideas in relation to a specific piece of discourse. Prezi takes this traditional method of annotating a step fur­ther by allowing students and teachers to visually enhance the reading.

The usage of technology will create a culture of working together which results in not only a class­room that runs better but also a classroom that can adapt to changing conditions. In the process of having team member's work together it is important to use the technology available that allows them to col­laborate in and out of the classroom. For this purpose, Prezi Presentation is also can be used as a tool to enhance collaborative learning environment. Prezi is a cloud-based presentation software and storytell­ing tool for exploring and sharing ideas on a virtual canvas.

The final idea for using Prezi within the classroom is Prezi Meeting is an online collaboration feature that allows up to ten people (co-located or geographically separated) to co-edit and show their Prezi in real time. This allows teams to meet virtually whereas previously they were restrained by having to meet physically. Users participate in the Prezi simultaneously, and each is visually represented in the presen­tation window by a small Prezi avatar. Any text, image, and/or video that is added to the Prezi is visible to the whole team, giving remote team members the sensation of being in the same creative space to­gether.

Denise Stuart notes how Prezi enhances audience engagement than Power Point to a greater degree through zoom in on images and animation as a virtual journey [4].

Prezi is a transformative tool that builds students' abilities to present information through logical, visu­al, and spatial relationships. This ability can lead to an alteration in the traditional relationship between stu­dent thought and research. Whereas traditional instructional methods encourage this relationship, using Prezi requires students to effectively communicate the explicit connections between their research and their own ideas. Through the ease of incorporating simultaneous sources of information, such as videos, images, and web links, students are able to show what knowledge they have acquired through their inquiry process. The adaptability of inquiry and research necessary for constructing a Prezi calls for students to utilize and synthe­size the vast amount of information available at their fingertips.

Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, prolific writer, expert author and public speaker. In a recent article post he went into five key points in working with modern multimedia in Foreign Language Teaching:

  1. Modern multimedia technology application requires less expensive to acquire, use and maintain.

If you have only a portable laptop computer with viable connections to a standard or digital, plasma TV, you can eliminate the need for and use of several other pieces of equipment at substantial savings. These might include any or all of the traditional teaching tools as listed above for starters.

  1. Modern technology can provide a wider variety of tools available for use in EFL classes.

From audio recordings and podcasts to movies, graphics production and display software to videos available online, multimedia is constantly available from an extensive range of sources. Never has a greater range of options been so readily available to English as a Foreign Language teachers worldwide.

  1. Simpler and easier classroom use.

EFL teachers now might need but three distinct pieces of hardware to perform a broad range of func­tions in the language learning classroom of today; a TV (digital or analog), a desktop or laptop computer and the corresponding audio / video connection cable or hardware plus a DSL or Wi Fi internet connection.

  1. Frequently adaptable for using several multimedia modes during a class session.

In teaching the four basis language skills, EFL teachers can make dramatic and extensive use of availa­ble media both online and off line. Media windows can be opened, minimized or closed as the EFL teacher desires during a class session.

  1. Incorporating video in EFL is easier and more effective using applied multimedia technology

If you use or consider using such video based multimedia as movies or movie clips, documentaries, mu­sic videos and TV programs, among other available options, then you can readily adapt EFL approaches and methods of presentation to the interests and needs of your classes. One way of doing this is by incorporating video in EFL or foreign language learning classes you may have.

  1. Incorporating Video & Other Multimedia Technology

By incorporating video in EFL and foreign language learning classes you are empowered to greatly ex­pand your learners language acquisition options through the following aspects: o Digital video viewing and production o Digital audio listening and production

o Internet-based resources like theme relevant websites and online videos (YouTube, Google, etc.)

o Excel spreadsheet viewing, manipulation and production

o Production and viewing of Power Point presentations

o Word processor-produced documents including PDF format files

o Podcast listening and production

o Webcam recordings

o Digital images, charts and graphics

o E-mail communications

o Instant Messenger communications

o Online synchronous and asynchronous chat rooms

o Distance education features and benefits - Concept (mind) maps

o Simulation software

These are all immediately available through the use of only a portable laptop computer, viable connec­tions, internet availability and a cable-ready TV. While some additional software might be needed for some venues, many times the necessary software is free or very low cost.

Indeed, today's students see and consume media in new ways. Their experiences outside classroom may differ markedly from those traditionally expected to promote learning, particularly where education is teacher and text book centred. For example, it was noted that today's journalism and communication stu­dents are the «Google Generation» — a group of young people for whom the Internet has always been a real­ity. Many do not accept that news and information should come from a daily newspaper or at set times from television and radio broadcasts. Rather, they expect to get information, news and entertainment when they want it and to share opinions, experiences and lifestyles through social networking sites. Their world is dy­namic, exciting, and ease of use and access to the new media are highly motivating of participation. Students similarly engage with each other through sites such as Facebook and MySpace, often with little thought for possible consequences of publishing their activities in very public arenas.

The view was expressed that people in general need to improve their intellectual and creative perform­ance in light of increased availability and new uses of mass media and communication. Media and informa­tion literacy education is a tool for achieving that improvement. However, many experts agreed that if MIL among students is to be improved, teachers themselves must be media and information literate. The chal­lenge for teachers is then to harness the motivational characteristics of these new media to empower students in learning to learn, in learning autonomously, while simultaneously encouraging dialogue and cooperation to make sense of the media world. As one participant put it, «Teacher trainees need the oxygen of MIL to teach students!» A belief was also expressed that through educating students for media and information liter­acy, the teachers themselves would be better able to respond to changes in their role as education moves away from being teacher-centred.

One might be tempted to think that since students are rapidly appropriating media tools for their own purposes, they do not need education concerning them. However, from expert discussion it was clear that students' purposes tend to be social and perhaps superficial, while those of teachers focus on engaging criti­cally with information, developing analytical, organizational and evaluative skills, problem solving and communication. In other words, teachers focus on the competencies that underlie intentional learning and that will allow critical engagement with future media content and form and emerging information and com­munication tools. Trainee teachers are themselves unlikely to have developed these competencies in relation to current media.

There was agreement too that learning about, with and through media and information literacy will re­quire a pedagogical approach that differs from that traditionally used in some countries, i.e. student- rather than teacher-centred and resource-based rather than centred on set texts. Teacher training in respect of these pedagogies is crucial to modern education and just as students find media motivating, it was suggested that the course might motivate teacher retention in countries where a teaching qualification may be treated as a step towards moving into other professions.

However, some reported encountering resistance to the development of MIL courses among established teachers and teacher-trainers. It was mentioned that MIL is marginalized in teacher training institutions and in schools by lack of engagement with context of students' lives and low awareness of the impact of changes in media availability. An additional factor often mentioned was that the curriculum in schools, as well as teacher training institutions, is already overloaded. Thus it will be important to develop a strategy that influ­ences adaptation and implementation of the MIL curriculum by decision-makers by demonstrating how MIL can be integrated into existing teacher training programmes rather than being a stand-alone addition.

Purposes of a Media and Information Literacy course. The experts deemed the purposes of a media and information literacy course to be:

  • promotion of understanding of the functions of the media, its potential and limitations,
  • promoting critical autonomy in the use of media,
  • strengthening the capacities, rights and responsibilities of individuals vis a vis the media, and
  • facilitating access to, and the creative and productive use of, information and communication tech­

To conclude, the widespread use of the information technologies, many online tools are increasingly available for use on educational and non-education purposes. Due to the abundance and sophisticated fea­tures of the tools, however, it is often difficult to select the right tools for specific purposes. In view of the need for computer assisted language learning educators should be competent to find, choose, use and evalu­ate educational tools for further development and implementation in their classrooms. With this in mind, I would recommend to carefully study the features and benefits of using online tools for developing students' language skills, such as conversational, writing, reading, listening and creative as well. Therefore there is one urgent problem of training teachers who can ensure media and information literacy amid students as well.

 

References

  1. Bush M.D. Computer-assisted language learning: From vision to reality? CALICO Journal, — 25 (3). — Р. 443-170.
  2. GarrettComputer-assisted language learning trends and issues revisited: Integrating innovation // The Modern Language Journal, 93 (Focus Issue), 2009. — Р. 719-740.
  3. [ER]. Access mode: http//prezi.com
  4. Denise H. , Column Editor Razzle Dazzle of the Prezi Adventure: Beyond the Slide Show
Name of author: E.R.Tazhibayeva
Year: 2015
City: Karaganda
Category: Pedagogy
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