Learning Audiovisual Media in classroom context

1. Introduction

I´ve been teaching audiovisual media for four years now. When I started my carear I didn´t have any pedagogical knowledge besides my own experences as a student. The teachers peagogical studies I did, offered me some new insight to the work and many useful points of reflection. Now my goal is to gain even deeper knowledge about learning and its processes. New information reveals also past experiences in a new light.

My intention is to reflect here on my previous experiences from the perspective of new learning sciencies. The context of my reflections is the vocational education of Audiovisual communication or audiovisual media. I´m comparing my own notions to the themes of learnign environments and learning motivation to the ones found in the literature.

2. Learning environments

The aim of the studies is to become a professional in the field of audiovisual media. So the learning context is somewhat different compared to schools that offer general education. The goal is to learn the knowledge and skills needed in the professional life. Whether its due to the vocational quality of the education or my own orientation, the focus of the learning environment is clearly knowledge centered. The main focus is encreasing students knowledge and improving their skills in a way that they will be able to transfer their understanding to the professional environment (Bransdorf, Brown, & Cocking, 2004; Sawyer, 2007).

The learning environment is not completely knowledge oriented though. Also the knowledge, skills and attitudes the students have with them are taken into consideration before starting a new topic. Its easier for the students to start learning new things if they have something in their previous scemes they can attach the new material to. (Bransford et al., 2004; Sawyer, 2007).

Evaluation is also integral part of the learnig environment. Most of students work is similar to the tasks they would do in real working environments. They will get feedback both during their learning processes and also when the work is finished. So both summative and formative evaluation have their places. Important thing for students is also to learn to evaluate their fellow students work. That gives them all new opportunities to learn. (Bransford et al., 2004.) Learning from each other while working in groups is also one aspect of the learning environment. The goal has been to create an atmosphere where everyone is free to try and experiment (Bransford et al., 2004, 166). Also good way to learn is to discuss with your friends and try to find the solution together.

I think its easy to see distribution of cognition in group work of different audiovisual media tasks. The situative perspective sees distributed cognition happening in problem solving, planning and reasoning by a group of people working together. Because complex technological artifacts and material representations are important in the work process, its easy for me to relate that to audiovisual productions. (Greeno, 2006.) The problem solving starts by a brief, usually gotten from a client, and then continues on throught the whole production process. When working as a part of a production team, students talk, gesture and create visible presentations and production documents for each other as they interact. (Greeno, 2006.)

3. Motivation and emotions

Motivation or the lack of it is a matter much talked about. Even though students have chosen the field of studies themselves, not all of them are well motivated for studying. First step is to make it to "school" every day, next goal is to do the tasks that are required from them. It seems to me that only a small number of all the students are really motivated, self oriented and committed to studying. I´m sure there are lots of thing a teacher could do to improve motivation, at least in some cases. In other situations the students problems can be so big that studying is evidently left aside. Teachers knowledge about all the cognitive, motivational and emotional phases and strategies help give a student some tools to influence his or her motivational processes. Tasks can be devided into smaller peaces to make it less intimidating or tasks can be tied to something familiar to the student to help the motivation. (Järvenoja & Järvelä, 2006.)

Every student has individual ways of controlling their own learning processes. Motivation and its regulation is one. Also the way students perceive themselves, the learning situation or their ability to control their own actions play an important role. Often the students who can´t stand uncertainty are the ones who get frustraited and quit more open and difficult learning tasks. (Järvenoja & Järvelä, 2006.) Thats why its important to find a suitable way for each student to acchieve each learning goal.

4. Kognitive theory of multimedia learning

The kognitive theory of multimedia learning involves two channels (visual and verbal), limited processing capacity, three different kinds of memory stores and five cognitive processes and five kinds of representations (Mayer, 2005). The two channels mean that people learn better if both visual and verbal material is being used. Limited processing capacity brings out the fact that only 5-7 blocks of information should be presented at a time. All the information gets to the working memory passing through our senses and sensory memory. Processing in the working memory allowes us to transform pictorial models to verbal and vice versa. All the models and schemas are then compared to the knowledge in long-term memory. The whole system recuires coordinated cognitive processess in each channel for active learning to happen. (Mayer, 2005.)

The subject of audiovisual media usually allows easily both pictoral and verbal material to be used. Selecting relevant words and images requires some knowledge of cognitive theory though. Otherwise the learning results of all the beatiful and entertaining presentations will be of no relevance. Multimedia messages should be designed to facilitate multimedia learning processes. I think in the field of audiovisual media, the situation is not completely hopeless even without any knowledge of cognitive processes. The teachers are usually professionals in communication so they will hopefully use their skills in planning the goals of their presentations as well. The reality in everyday work life might yet be too busy, when there is not enough time to consider all the relevant goals and possibilities.

5. Conclusion

There are many right elements in the learning environmets of audiovisual media. The main focus is on teaching professional skills. That is acchieved by building new information in relation to students previous knowledge. Evaluation of their own and others work is essential as well as working together in groups. Motivational and emotinal issues are always very important to take into account. Developing motivation and controlling emotions should be even more important on the priority list. In learning to control their own learning processes, students will need proper guidance from their teacher. It helps tremendously if the teacher is well equiped with knowledge about the cognitive processes that are connected to learning. If the teacher is familiar with the cognitive theory of multimedia learning it most likely will lead to more meaningfull learning experiences for the students.

6. References

Bransdorf, J. D., Brown, A. L. & Cocking, R. R. (Eds.) Miten opimme. Aivot mieli, kokemus ja koulu (2004) Juva: WS Bookwell Oy.

Greeno, J. G. (2006). Learning in Activity. In In R. K. Sawyer (Ed.), The Cambridge Handbook of the Learning Sciences (pp. 79-96). New York: Cambridge Univercity Press.

Järvenoja, H. & Järvelä, S. (2006) Motivaation ja emootioiden säätely oppimisprosessin aikana. In S. Järvelä, P. Häkkinen, E. Lehtinen (Eds.) Oppimisen teoria ja teknologian opetuskäyttö (pp. 85-102). Helsinki: WSOY Oppimateriaalit Oy.

Mayer, R. E. (2005) Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning. In Mayer, R. E. (Ed.) The Cambridge Hanbook of Multimedia Learning (pp. 31-48). New York: Cambridge Univercity Press.

Sawyer, R. Keith. (2007). The New Science of Learning. In R. K. Sawyer (Ed.) The Cambridge Handbook of Learning Sciences (pp. 1-16). New York: Cambridge Univercity Press.