Animated Speakers

January 12, 2011
Posted by Jay Livingston

When I teach, I rarely use the board. My handwriting is terrible, and for just about everything I say in class, I have a write-up that I post on Blackbloard with the ideas and evidence laid out systematically and all the key concepts and names in bold type. When I do write on the board, I often see student struggling to decipher the letters. I tell students not to worry about copying it all down. They can find everything written clearly and spelled correctly on Blackboard.

Underlying my casual attitude to the board is the assumption that I-write-you-copy ritual breaks the flow of thought. That’s also one of my objections to PowerPoint, especially if students focus on writing down what’s on a slide rather than thinking about what’s being said.

Who am I kidding? The only one whose thought gets broken is me. For students, a pause while I write on the board would give them a minute to think about the idea. Besides, I realize now that having a written version, even with no pause for reflection, reinforces and somehow adds to a lecture. I realize this thanks to RSA Animate. Watch even a minute or two of one of their animations. Here for example is Zizek on cultural capitalism.

The drawings don’t really add anything intellectually, and the words are just a shortened transcript of what Ehrenreich is saying. But the message coming simultaneously via two senses seems much more memorable. (The RSA site also has the video of Zizek on camera for the full half-hour lecture, for connoisseurs interested in side-by-side comparisons.).

I guess I’ll be spending the rest of winter break working on my marker skills.


Bob S. said...

Having a child who was challenged to learn by normal elementary and high school teaching methods, we found that the more senses you involve the better.
Not just for him but for most people.

Have you investigated some of the new whiteboard technology?
It allows a person to write on the board and have it captured to a computer. You can publish it as jpegs or other media.

It might really help those people who are not auditory learners but visual.

Jay Livingston said...

We have a "smart board" system that does something similar -- what you write on it gets integrated into any thing else you are projecting from a computer. But it's fairly expensive, and we have it only a few classrooms. Besides, even with such a system, my inept writing and drawing would still be a problem.

The Last Leaf Gardener said...

. . . and so on and so on . . . this video sparked so many thoughts your comment field can't accommodate them — mainly it was the nightmare of certain school teachers and college professors and so on and so on . . it also sparked a lot of thoughts re social issues and so on and so on . . . and it reinforced an unmentioned (I think) Oscar W quote which is "I am not young enough to know everything." Appreciated the clip. Thanks for sharing.

AJ said...

If this topic interests you, you should look at Paivio's Dual-Coding Theory. A quick reference can be found here