Considering media

Technology evolution icon

The objective of our final learning design activity, LDA 6, is to determine which forms of media will support the teaching events in your online course. You may consider using lectures, journals, films, graphics, audio recordings or something even more innovative. Each of these learning media will provide a different means of communication. It is therefore important to consider which one will best serve your specific needs and the needs of your students.

There are two key steps that will aid the process of selecting media for your course, as outlined in the following activity.

There are two key steps that will aid the process of selecting media for your course, as outlined below.

In the following activity, click 'Next' to move through the activity screens and learn more about how to select appropriate media.
Case study icon

Video interview

In the following video, Richard Osborne, Education Advisor at the...

In the following interview, Richard Osborne, Education Advisor at the ...

Consider your learning outcomes

Do your learning outcomes ask for students to be immersed in a realistic experience? How realistic does it need to be in order to be considered effective?

Case study:

The student is a pre-service teacher learning about classroom management strategies.

You could have them observe in real time an actual classroom (webcams), review videos of an actual classroom (embedded video clips or YouTube), engage with a software program that asks them to provide ongoing observations and strategies, or read several scenarios (text-based). Classroom management is one of the most difficult aspects for pre-service teachers to grasp, so the more realistic the better.


Assess available technologies

Consider what is available at your institution, what is available online, what is free (i.e. an Open Educational Resource) and what has costs. Are the costs prohibitive or impractical? Is it a better return on investment (ROI), in terms of time money and other resources, to create your own media? In particular, think about the time commitment required by your learners to fully engage with the chosen media.

Case study:

Returning to our classroom management example, it may be difficult to schedule live sessions of actual classrooms. However, you may have several clips that demonstrate your points. An added benefit is that everyone will be viewing the same clips, so activities can focus on them in particular. This may be enough. Or, you may decide to incorporate some scenario-based software that asks students to work out strategies on their own. The video clips may be used early on in the class while the scenario-based software is used later to demonstrate growth. Of course, also remember to think about any accessibility issues in your selection of the preferred media.

Clearly, this two-step process is a simple overview, but it's one that will hopefully provide you with some guidance nonetheless.

Did you know?

The 'Using technology tools for teaching online' course of the Teaching Online...

Selecting media for a blended course

If you are considering selecting media for a blended course you may find the example in the above activity useful. However, you should also consider that blended learning implies some face-to-face class time, and that other options may therefore also be suitable. For example, you might think about using two-way interactive video (webcam), situations in which your students can observe a live classroom together, or on-site visits to a live classroom, which may be easier to schedule if location specific.

Blended learning icon

In the following activity, we will consider some more general ideas that will help you through the process of selecting media for your course.

We will now consider some more general ideas that will help you through the process of selecting media for your course.

Arrange the ideas in your preferred order or priority (there is no 'correct' order) by selecting a panel and then clicking on the position in the sequence in which you wish to place it, thinking about which is the most (and which is the least) important to your own approach and needs.
Consider the following list of ideas relating to selecting media for your course. Consider what your preferred order of priority for the ideas would be, according to which is the most (and which is the least) important to your own approach and needs.

PROGRAMME | Teaching Online
COURSE | Designing and developing your online course
UNIT | 3 : Creating your course
PAGE TITLE | Learning environment: Media selection

  • Always remember that in order to successfully implement any media, you need to focus on what you want your students to be doing, and how you are going to measure their progress and success. Just because social media is popular doesn't mean it belongs in your course.
  • Another important factor is to determine whether you are designing individual or group teaching: is the media easy to use for group communication, editing, etc.?
  • It is very important you consider the ROI for both development and implementation in terms of time, costs, skills, and resources available.
  • Keep in mind that the media choices should be weighed against 'ideal' media, taking into account time and resources – especially the issue of student access to the media and necessary components (e.g. downloading times, need for microphones, need for plug-ins, etc.).
  • Is the media more useful as a tool for 'Content delivery', 'Interaction' or 'Assessment'?
  • What is your level of skill with a particular media? Are you willing to step outside of your comfort zone?
  • You are encouraged to take risks with media and strategies. Let your creative juices flow!
  • Don't be afraid to ask for help. Ask students, colleagues, and IT and media specialists for assistance, training and resources.

With these ideas and tips in mind, let's now turn to the final of our LDAs, an activity that will help you select the right media for your online course.

In the following LDA, click 'Next' to move through the different stages of the worksheet.
Now work through the different stages of the 'Media selection' LDA.

Download

Download a worked example of the LDA on 'Learning environment...

Portfolio activity

Take some time to develop the responses you recorded for the LDA on...

PROGRAMME | Teaching Online
COURSE | Designing and developing your online course
UNIT | 3 : Creating your course
PAGE TITLE | Learning environment: Media selection

Use the media analysis table in this LDA to help in the selection of media in your online course.

The table highlights different events of teaching or places within your lesson where you may want to consider various media choices (e.g. simulation, websites, lecture, a whiteboard, a film, a graphic, an audio recording, audio-based PowerPoint, a particular software, survey or quiz software). The 'Teaching strategies' column ties in to the learning activity you completed in LDA 4.

You do not need to make a note of a medium for each choice, but it will help you plan better what you will need in the end, which in turn will help you consider the amount of time needed to prepare the various media.

Work through the following table for each of the three learning objectives you outlined earlier in this course:

Learning objective or teaching event Teaching strategies Media choice Rationale for media choice
To gain attention/interest
Information and examples
Summarise and review
Assess performance
Feedback/remediation
Other 1
Other 2

Selecting media is something that many of us do haphazardly, but when we plan for it we also build in the appropriate time needed to gather and/or create the media we want and can plan better for the return on investment (ROI) – for both teachers and students.


Interview

In the following interview, Richard Osborne, Education Advisor at the University of Exeter, discusses the 'Tech Trumps' system for selecting media at his institution.

How and why did you develop 'Tech Trumps' at your institution? How does it work?

Richard Osborne
Education Advisor (Technology Enhanced Learning), University of Exeter

They were developed as part of a larger project exploring assessment and redesigning assessment, and we developed a model which allowed us to build into an assessment the development of skills and competencies above and beyond what academic goals were being, that assessment was designed to measure. We used six dimensions, here, for this model for designing assessment, of time, of problem [...], of collaboration, of audience, of structure, and peer and self-review. So this gave us a way of thinking about assessment redesign. But these six areas, those six dimensions I just mentioned, as a senior academic at Exeter put it to me, 'These are the areas I would be most worried about you fiddling with in assessments.' And they are challenging areas. Things like peer review, it's a very challenging area to work in.

So to try and get round this problem, we've looked at technologies and the way technologies could support students who are having assessments redesigned that we're challenging like this. We're using affordances theory, actually, as an underlying model to do this alignment. We were looking at, from an affordances concept, what these systems might provide or offer in the context of the model.

So the model, for example, talks about collaboration, and then when they go to these technologies you would say, 'Well, take something like Blogger. Does Blogger provide or furnish anything to help collaboration?' and honestly, Blogger probably doesn't. It's not a brilliant technology for collaboration. It's kind of a one-man band. You can collaborate, but it's not its strong point. So we look again at the model, and another dimension of the model is time, suggesting that assessments should be extended over time – multiple points of assessment rather than one detached one. Now, Blogger actually is very good at time, because Blogger is this counter-based format. It's designed to work over an extended period of time. So we see in this way we can say the affordance of Blogger in the context of a model is very strong on time.

So we went round a lot of off-the-shelf technologies, such as Blogger, such as Skype, things you'd hear of, and a lot of institutional technologies as well, things like Echo360. And we basically rated each one against our model, so against these six dimensions of how much they provide or furnish, how much they would afford, if you like, in terms of the model. So we got this, basically, rating system. So with all these technologies, suddenly we have a way of saying, if an academic has come along and says, 'I wanted to explore peer review, and actually I want to explore problem data as well. What technologies can you show me which will help support me in these two dimensions?' And then we can go to our Top Trumps. We can say, 'Ah, well, I've got this little portfolio. I can filter the Top Trumps and say, 'Just these six or so technologies are very strong on peer and on problem data. So these are the six technologies you should be looking at to support you in your work.' That's how they're designed.

How effective has this model been?

It's been surprising, actually, just how much people have been excited about the possibility of Top Trumps, or Tech Trumps as I should call them. They do seem to have struck something of a chord. I think they reduce the barriers, as you like, to getting engaged with technology, and they show them in a form where academics can rapidly get a sense of their value to them. They're actually flippable cards, so on the back we have a short description as well, and a strap-line which explains in one line exactly why this tech does what this tech does.

It's not just here in Exeter either. The idea of the Top Trumps, or as I call them Tech Trumps, of capturing the essence of what a technology might provide in an educational language, seems to have struck a chord – certainly when I've been out at conferences talking about this and sharing it elsewhere. People seem very keen.

Did you know?

The 'Using technology tools for teaching online' course of the Teaching Online programme features greater detail and additional ideas about media in your courses.

Download

Download a worked example of the LDA on 'Learning environment: Media selection'.

The sample is also available in your Teaching Online portfolio.

Portfolio

Duration: 20 minutes

Take some time to develop the responses you recorded for the LDA on 'Learning environment: Media selection'.

Use the worked example provided in the 'Download' pod to guide your thoughts.

Use the attached document to record your responses, or complete the relevant page of your Teaching Online portfolio.