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COM125 Blog Post #5 : Effective Learning Through the Use of Digital Media: Can it be Done?

As the American psychologist and educator John Dewey once said, “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself”.

Education does not simply end after graduation from school. The world is constantly evolving; to continually educate oneself is a way to stay informed and relevant.

Can learning be made more effective through the use of digital media? We must first define how learning is experienced. Learning can be divided into six levels as according to Bloom’s Taxonomy on the Cognitive Domain:

Bloom's Six Levels of Learning in the Cognitive Domain

The learning process starts from the base and moves to the top in a linear fashion, starting with “Remembering” and ending with “Creating”.

The first three categories from the bottom reflect a lower order of thinking; The “Remembering” category refers to the basic recalling of facts, terms and basic concepts. The “Understanding” category refers to the demonstrative comprehension. The “Applying” category refers to the utilization of the bottom two categories “Remembering” and “Understanding” categories to solve problems to situations.

The last three categories refer to a higher order of thinking; “Analysing” is the scrutiny of the elements, relationships and principles behind a concept. “Evaluating” is the appraisal of a subject to judge its value. Lastly, the “Creating” category refers to the usage of all five previous categories to create something new.

How do we apply this to digital media? Digital media refers to any data is stored in digital form. This is an extremely broad definition, and can encompass anything from such as computer games, to electronic books read off a digital device. A version of Bloom’s Taxonomy updated for the digital age can look like this:

There are countless examples of digital media that utilize the lower order thinking levels (“Remembering, Understanding, Applying”) of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Using presentation software such as Microsoft’s Powerpoint for lectures has been a mainstay of education since computers became affordable. Four schools in Singapore have replaced their textbooks with iPads, allowing students to take notes and use worksheets.

Students from Nanyang Girls High School using Ipads

Students from Nanyang Girls High School using Ipads (Credit to: http://www.ubergizmo.com/2011/01/singaporean-schools-ipads-classroom/)

Electronic book readers such as Amazon’s Kindle have allowed people to store thousands of books into a single digital device, allowing for greater convenience. In fact, e-books have grown so popular that Amazon reported that the sales of e-books overtook traditional printed books for the first time in January 2011. Websites such as Google Scholar have allowed  easier access to academic texts.

Just as many examples of the higher order thinking of Bloom’s Taxonomy (“Analyzing, Evaluating, Creating”) exist in digital form. The social video sharing website YouTube hosts millions of user-created videos, some showing excellent “Creating” skills:

Opportunities for interactive learning have sprung up in games such as Second Life, where people from all over the world can create an avatar of themselves and “enroll” in classes in virtual representations of universities, such as the Ohio University Second Life Campus :

I shall end with this quote by the English writer Gilbert K. Chesterton: “Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another.” As our generation embraces digital media t to educate, perhaps the soul of our society evolve digitally as well.

 

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