Monday, April 20, 2015

The Benefits of YouTube in Education

By Meghan Scarpiello

In many schools across the nation the website that always seems to be blocked is YouTube. YouTube is a site for videos of all  kinds, but primarily videos for entertainment. These videos can be a distraction while students are doing schoolwork or these videos can also be used as a tool for helping students with their schoolwork.

There are various times that just simply explaining the material in class is not enough. Majority of students are visual learners and therefore a video of a process or series of events can help them better understand the material. They can review the video in their head to make it easier to remember the information. Also, the way the information is explained by someone besides the instruction or even just hearing it a second time can help grasp the material. YouTube is filled with informational videos that teachers can share with their students during class, or even allow the students to watch on their own. Watching videos enhances the visual aspect of knowing important facts.

Not only can students watch videos, but the teacher can always assign projects for the students to create their own video on a certain topic. For example, if the teacher is teaching a lesson on history , the assignment maybe to have different groups of people reenact different events in history on video. The groups of students would work together and become experts on their event to be able to make a successful video. It also gives hands on experiences of what has actually happened in history and let's the students put themselves in the historical event. This gets students thinking in many ways. Once all the videos are completed, students can upload them to YouTube and this allows the  teacher  to view the videos. Having the students watch each others video is good laugh as well as relaying the information to the students. It puts a visual aspect to the events instead of always trying to put the pieces together in their heads. This  also, can be helpful for  reviewing the information  by  relating the information  back to what their classmates video was about  and be an easy way to remember the information. If a student is absent the day of the presentations, the videos are online  and can be watched by the student at any time.
YouTube makes it  easy to watch videos. Going onto YouTube  to watch videos can be a very useful studying technique. I know I go on YouTube all the time to help me get a visual of scientific processes. This helps me understand what is actually going on in a cell. It can be difficult to understand the microscopic world and these videos make it easier to grasp the subject. Teachers should emphasize and encourage students to go online and watch these types of videos if they are struggling in class. YouTube is so large it has multiple videos of just about every topic you can think of. You can get help with any subject at any level. There are college professors who even post their lectures on YouTube for their students to go back and watch. Anyone can view these lectures (if made public by the professor) and can help students succeed. There is one series of topics called “Crash Course” that is very informational and made by students to specifically  help other students. There is more to YouTube than entertainment and procrastination.

YouTube is already a large website full of untapped potential. If more teachers and professors would encourage it and/ or add to it, then there would be even more beneficial videos  to aid students. It would be a good way to tap into what popular Internet sources we have, and make education stronger using technology.

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Advent of the Smart Classroom

By Meghan Scarpiello

Most teachers are used to the old method of lecturing while the students take notes. While this is still an effective way to teach, technology can assist students in the learning process. Currently, being in college, I have noticed that technology has helped me take notes. Many teachers now change their lecture into a PowerPoint presentation. This gives students the benefit of printing out the notes and being able to write down even more notes as need be. They can be attentive and participate in class. It prevents students from speed writing notes and barely listening to what the teacher is saying. Not listening to the teacher can lead to missing information and lower grades. Always having the notes on hand is  beneficial. It is especially beneficial when you are too ill to make  it to class. You can ask a friend to provide the  notes, but at least you will have the majority of the notes through technology, without having to worry or rewrite all the notes from a friend. All in all, there will be less worrying for the student.

Now this is a basic idea of technology impacting a classroom, it can increase to a new level in various ways. For example, I am in a biology class and instead of it being held in a  large lecture hall or normal classroom where all the desks face the teacher, we have what is called a smart classroom. This classroom has the seats arranged so they are in small groups called pods. These pods are large tables with five or six chairs around them but one side of the table is against the wall. The side that is against the wall has a television mounted on it that the teacher projects her presentation onto. The teacher can only show us her notes if we hit a button on the television that says classroom. We can hit another button that says computer, and the television screen is now a screen for our own personal pod computer. In this mode we do research and  type up our findings. Then we simply hit a share button and we can share our work with all the other pods in the classroom. One last helpful device is having  built in  dry erase boards as a table top. We can draw and write out cell models and special molecules to review and discuss. By downloading a special application onto our phones we can take a picture of our work, hit share, and it automatically shares our work with the whole class. As nice as all these cool features may be, it still has its pros and cons.

One of the pros to having a smart classroom like this is having a very hands on and interactive experience. There is no excuses for being bored and inattentive in class. The notes are always available and being close to your pod mates helps you if you struggle with the material. Any material can be looked up on the computer at any time if needed. The students are in control of what they view on their pod screens and it is there to  benefit them only. It is a very visual classroom and can alter between a lecture type class setting one day and a dry erase board setting day accessing the tabletops. The technology used is only for the students’ benefit.

As helpful as it all may seem, there are still some cons to the system. The teacher must be taught ahead of time on how to operate all the updates in the classroom. If the teacher is lost or confused, class time is wasted. The teacher also needs to be able to allow their material to work with the technology. If they only want to lecture the entire time then there is no point in having all the extra bells and whistles. The teacher needs to want to embrace the beauty of their smart classroom to allow the students to get a solid interactive experience. The students also need to be  open and sharing to their pod mates. Everyone needs to get along and compromise on what he or she wants to view on the screen all the time. Also, when it comes to doing work amongst the pod, they all need to pay attention and do their fair share. The smart classroom has its cons, but these can easily be prevented and avoided if handled properly.

For this smart classroom, I believe the pros outweigh the cons. By using technology in this aspect  it can further education and help  students understand the material. Being interactive is better than being lectured because the mind is less likely to wander off. As long as the teacher is well prepared for the type of classroom given to them, they can embrace the luxury of new teaching approaches and really help students improve. I enjoy the smart classroom because it is interactive and all around more fun for even a challenging science topic like biology.