Digital Music Player
Digital music players take digital music files and play them through headphones or speakers. All of these devices either plug into a computer or have a memory card where content can be exchanged. This means audio files such as lectures and discussions can also be recorded, shared and listened to.
Web publishing software includes various applications that run on a machine to enable users to build Web pages. Software ranges from the most simple html-text editors to expensive visual editing tools. For educators, the main goal is to find software that is easy to use and runs on your machine. To publish content to the Web, a user needs publishing software and server space (to store the pages you want people to view). School Web pages offer a forum for communicating with parents, students, and other community members. Class Web pages provide teachers with an online space for posting assignments, sharing student work, and communicating with parents.
Music recording software allows students to 'podcast' their study of Shakespeare
Jerri Raven teaches English in a small, rural school of about 300 students. In the past, she has tried many approaches to introduce her students to Shakespeare. Because there are no theaters nearby, few students have ever seen Shakespeare performed on stage. They are unfamiliar with the content and often challenged by the language.
Raven noticed that her students identify more with the language and meaning of Shakespeare when they connect to the text through music. She also noticed that students are much more apt to discuss the text and genuinely understand it when they engage in some form of simulation. She decided to create an audio-enhanced simulation that will require students to think about the meaning and the emotions conveyed by the text.
Raven knew that her students' world is inhabited by music videos and short, game-like snippets of information. If she can get them to discuss ideas and think more critically within this context, she might improve their understanding and raise test scores.
Raven is teaching Romeo and Juliet to her ninth-grade class. She reviewed the research on designing simulations for learning. What she found suggested a new approach to teaching the play.
Raven chose to have students create dramatic readings, enhanced by music. She asked her students to select some of the more memorable scenes and create dramatic readings of one of the scenes complete with appropriate music. Creating a simulation of a stage performance requires students to understand the plot and think critically about the emotional context of a particular scene, so it could be set to appropriate music. Matching music to their reading would engage students' critical thinking skills.
Simulation environments encourage exploration by allowing learners to manipulate their learning experience. Raven wanted to encourage student creativity, but also keep the focus on content mastery. She explained that there were specific behavior rules associated with the audio simulation. She outlined these rules in a criterion-based rubric, which would be used in assessing performance.
Raven used technology to motivate and engage her students. After discussions with some of her students, she hit on the idea of having student teams create a "podcast." A podcast is an audio file that is available online for others to freely download. Creating podcasts would enable students to work at their own pace, using online resources at school, at home, or in the library.
Students were divided into small groups (though some chose to go it alone and perform a soliloquy). Their assignment: select a portion of the text, set it to appropriate music, and record their reading. Some students chose to play the music on a stereo in the background while reading, but others chose to use a simple audio recording program to capture their speaking and then edit it, adding background tracks and introductory comments. Finally, one of her more technically adept students helped to compress the files into .mp3 format and then uploaded them to the Web.
The process of creating the podcast occurred in two rounds. A first edit was uploaded to a Web site or e-mailed. Students and Raven evaluated each reading together, using the performance rubric. Because of their level of interest and the fact that students and Raven herself could "time-shift" their review (download to their mp3 players to listen to it later), almost all the students compiled their review of each other's works. The second and final edit allowed the students to put the polishing touches on their podcasts based on the feedback from their peers and Raven.
Raven found that modifying the manner by which she structured feedback to students had a dramatic effect on their final product. Using criterion-based rubrics helped them focus on their work and what they needed to accomplish.
Additionally, incorporating the technologies that students were already accustomed to using connected with their lives outside school, and engaged them. During the editing phase of the project, Raven saw that students were more likely to improve their work, using her suggestions and other ideas made during peer review. This meant students spent more time thinking about their assignment and reading the text to clarify their thinking. The additional practice increased comprehension.