5 Tips for Multimedia Enhanced Teaching and Learning

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Image source: CC0 Public Domain. Free for commercial use. No attribution required.

How can we use multimedia content to make learning more effective? The traditional approach to teaching in higher education tends to limit learners to reading texts, listening to lectures and discussing ideas in seminars. However, we learn better, and are more interested in learning tasks, when information is presented in diverse ways – so why not try something different? 

1) Give students an active task to complete

Make learning more active by giving students a task to complete while engaging with multimedia content. Rather than passively consuming, learners then have an objective and become actively engaged in doing something with the material. Try moving from lower order thinking skills, by testing comprehension with a short multiple choice quiz or survey (using, for example, Poll Everywhere, Google Forms or Study Direct), to higher order thinking skills, by asking students to write a short blog post or summary of the material (using WordPress or Blogger), synthesise material from a range of sources (for example, on a Padlet wall) or create an entirely new resource based on the content (e.g. a presentation, a handout, an audio recording).

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2) Use a flipped learning approach, with pre-session, in-class and post-session tasks

Take your tasks a step further by integrating them into a structured system, progressing through a cycle of pre-session, in-class and post-session tasks, all of which provide you with evidence for assessing your learning outcomes. This constructive alignment will ensure that students are actively engaged throughout the entire process and that each step is linked by an overarching sense of purpose. Professor Robin Banerjee (Psychology), as well as Susan Smith and Mark Fisher (BMEc), have had positive results using this method. If you are interested in learning more about flipped learning approaches, ask to join our Flipped Learning Group by e-mailing tel@sussex.ac.uk, or listen to our podcast episode, How I Got Started with Flipped Learning:

3) Provide a watching or listening list to complement existing reading lists

Reading lists have a long tradition in higher education – but why not try complementing traditional approaches with watching or listening lists? For example, Google provides useful tutorials on how to Create and Manage YouTube Playlists, how to Share a Playlists with Others, or Collaborate on Playlists. Starting a class YouTube channel with collaborative playlists could be a great way to involve learners in evaluating sources and curating digital content. Alternatively, to create a listening list, you could try using this Podcast Playlist Creator to search for podcast episodes, compile them into a playlist, then create a link which can be shared or subscribed to as an RSS feed (for more information, see What is RSS?) using a service such as Feedly or displayed on a Study Direct site using the RSS block.

Sources of video content
YouTube, Box of Broadcasts, TED, Khan Academy, WatchKnowLearn, BBC Video, National Geographic Video, NASA TV, Open Culture
Example playlists
Arts and Humanities: World History playlist
Sciences: Physics playlist
Social Sciences: Economics playlist

4) Hide part of the information to stimulate curiosity and discussion

In her recent presentation at Teaching and Learning Experience at Sussex (TaLES), Dr Sabrina Gilani gave a presentation about how teachers can stimulate curiosity and enhance student engagement by deliberately setting up a gap in knowledge that will later be filled. One great way to do this is to cut a reading into pieces and provide only part, or blank out sections to make it a gap-fill task. Alternatively, choose a video, then obscure the visuals or mute the audio, asking students to fill in the missing information by using their reasoning skills and discussing with their peers.

5) Use a jigsaw task to encourage peer-to-peer learning and debate

Similar to the above strategy of partially withholding information, we can also divide a class of students into groups that view/read/listen to different material. For example, you could have half the class watch a video and the other half read an article which presents an opposing viewpoint. You could then pair up students from each of the two groups to share their knowledge and debate the validity of each argument.

Alternatively, you could try setting up a jigsaw task, based on the instructions in this video:

Here is an example of this method being used at the University of Toronto:

For more information on using multimedia to enhance teaching and learning, visit www.sussex.ac.uk/tel, e-mail tel@sussex.ac.uk, or contact the learning technologist associated with your School.

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We are the Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) team at the University of Sussex. We publish posts each week on using technology to support teaching and learning. Read more about us.

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