Theme Visualization Part 2:Translating communications- and brain research theory to practice
The computer used the right way can overcome natural barriers in traditional classroom education. In addition to visualization and facilitate activity in the computer-based tools, these tools can also work as the activating trigger in the traditional classroom. Communications scholar James E. Gruner argues that the following variables determine whether a group of listeners is activated or not in a teaching situation.
– Ability to problem identification
– Barriers to identification
– The degree of information search
– …that leads to information processing
This determines the level of involvement.
From this follows that if a group does not see a particular phenomenon as a problem, they will process instead of seeking information about the problem. The involvement level will be low, inspiration to information search will also be low, and the barrier to learning is therefore that no problem has been identified. The risk is that teaching efforts will pass the audience by unnoticed.
However, there are several other obstacles to the activation of the audience, in other words transform the audience into learners. One of these other barriers in a classroom is the distance. The students have different ability to see and hear what the teacher communicates in front of the blackboard. With a computer in front of each student with appropriate software, this obstacle could be eliminated. Since a computer can improve visualization which further leads to increased activation.
From the teacher’s computer the same picture is sent with no distractions in the visual field regardless of where in the classroom student is located. Everybody in the classroom get the same conditions for learning. Since there are no distractions in the visual field on to the screen this will as well improve the concentration. In addition, all students do have equal opportunity to communicate with the teacher and the rest of the class because the teacher can see all the students the same way. Because when the student wants to get the teacher’s attention he or she does this via the computer screen, consequently no more need to wave with hands. As a matter of fact since the computer announce exactly who wanted the attention first loudness and other methods to get the teacher’s attention will be just annoying with no further gains.
More natural learning barriers in the classroom are the fact that students work in different speeds. In a classroom, research shows that only 20% of students are at the right pace of the teaching, for 40% it goes too fast and for 40% too slow. With the computers playback- and group-teach-functions the teacher can help the groups or individual students who are lagging behind, while others continue without additional help, and of course the teacher can help students who are a head of the others to continue without rush the other students. There is also a possibility for students to spontaneously rehearse everything that previously appeared on the screen. The teacher also has live-control over each student’s work on their computer. This is a soft way of controlling a learning-process where each student learns from their own prerequisites.
Another tool in the virtualized classroom is that the teacher can play back what she does on screen live. The methods mentioned above are just a few examples of how computer-based classroom tools can be used.
Understanding is situation-based, the Communication scholar Brenda Dervin teaches us. It is the conditions of the situation that is crucial for understanding. Tools like a computer with appropriate software improve these conditions considerably, since it over bridge natural barriers in the classroom.
Article Author: LarsGöran Boström