While children are, from an early age, exposed to all kinds of technologies such as TV, DVD, smartphones, computer games and so on, schools can fail to recognise the potential offered by the technologies that children are in contact with every day. Yet there are a range of AV tools that can be used to help children learn.
AV technology is used in many industries such as marketing to provide experiences that are engaging, informative, and memorable. For this reason, it is possible to conclude that the use of similar technologies in the classroom can engage learners and aid progress.
Some might fear that an emphasis on visual and auditory technologies could displace more traditional skills of reading and writing. In reality, they give teachers a wider set of tools with which to engage learners. Step by Step school for autistic children, for example, uses technologies including an interactive floor and an interactive table to teach children elementary skills in new and captivating ways.
And there is a host of other ways that educational establishments can use technology. As an alternative to essay-writing, some learners might choose to present their work by creating a series of photographs or an animated presentation using Animoto, a free web service that enables users to create short films using photographs and music. Foreign language teachers who worry about the difficulty of getting their students to talk could try YackPack, a website that enables users to upload and share audio messages, and can be used, for example, for practising speaking a foreign language with native speakers in their own country.
When modern audiovisual technologies are combined with the opportunity to use the internet to share and disseminate, we have a model that could transform learning. The internet doesn’t just give students access to a vast range of resources far beyond the reach of the classroom. It also enables them to share the outputs of their work with others. Think of the millions of students who can watch a lecture on string theory by a Harvard physicist on YouTube; or the Essex school where the podcasts created by students now have 1,000 subscribers; or the archaeology students at Leicester University who took a tour around a Kalasha village recreated in Second Life.
Many educators are already discovering the advantages of using AV in the classroom, and many of the learners for whom they are responsible are now progressing at previously unheard of rates.