VIS: Technology for multicultural teacher education

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    By Merribeth J. Bruning

    I f "a picture is worth a thousand words," why are there so many words and so few pictures in the col- lege classroom? Thanks to a summer VIS grant, Ball

    State University elementary education majors are finding more pictures included in their instruction. Their re- sponses are that "class is more interesting," and "reten- tion of information is aided by the visual cues."

    What is VIS and Why is it Important? VIS stands for Video Information Systems, a fiber

    optics network that connects selected campus classrooms to the VIS center in the central library. With a remote key pad in the classroom the faculty member can control the program cued and pace class appropriately. In addi- tion to audio/video materials that are commercially devel- oped, faculty can create their own VHS, floppy disks, laser disks, or other interactive video programs to aug- ment instruction. The use of the Amiga computer to lay text over graphics, the Video Toaster by New Tech, the Photofix to change slides into video floppy disks, a cam- era copy stand, and a photo scanner are just a few of the pieces of hardware available for faculty to utilize cre- atively.

    Instructional designers are available at the center to work with faculty in order to clarify objectives, write les- son plans, and/or discuss aspects of visual literacy. A production coordinator then assists the faculty member with the creation of aesthetically pleasing visuals that aid students in conceptualizing information. These visu- als can consolidate information, saving time and reinforc- ing key elements.

    Author, Merribeth Bruning, using still video graphics on VIS system to randomly access visuals with remote control.

    Merribeth J. Bruning is an instructor~advisor at Ball State University Teachers College, Muncie, Indiana.

    How does VIS Assist in Multicultural Teacher Education?

    In a second-year elementary education class, "Orga- nization and Management of the Multicultural Class- room," students learn to be more sensitive to cultural dif- ferences. The use of visuals to show economic, regional, and ethnic differences aid in setting the stage for group interactions. Text prompts aid in outlining key concepts and provide reference for student logs (brief class summaries) submitted after each seminar and labo-

    Volume 37/Number 111992 13

  • ratory experience. Students then write lesson plans incor- porating multicultural components that they present to el- ementary students in the Burris Laboratory School. Stu- dent teachers need multicultural experiences to increase their sensitivity to the multicultural influences common in classrooms today. With visuals provided by VIS as- sisted instruction, multicultural awareness can be height- ened. Concepts are presented, questions are raised, and both cognitive and affective domains are addressed. Stu- dents are more focused during the interaction portions of the seminar and participate in discussions.

    Many of the predominantly midwestern, rural and small town students in this regional university are just beginning to explore the great variety in the enlarging ripple of global cultures. VIS presentations enable in- structors to create audiovisual experiences to heighten student awareness and encourage critical thinking skills. Retention of information and engagement with materials and concepts presented is increased through the use of multisensory stimuli. Students show that "matched-pic- ture effects are durable and pervasive [producing] signifi- cantly better recall... Combined verbal and pictorial pre- sentations [are] superior to two verbalizations of the material" (Willows and Houghton, 1987). Pictures and graphs can also be transmitted in color. Color aids in re- tention of information, expresses moods, and maintains interest. VIS presentations provide instruction with visu- als in color. They also provide multisensory instruction. VIS presentations can empower both the instructor and the student as concepts are presented and processed ef- fectively.

    How does VIS Affect Teacher Education in General?

    Teacher education faculty model appropriate use of technology using VIS as a tool to augment instruction. As the availability of audiovisual technology increases, future educators need to become familiar with a variety of technological tools. A large high school in northern Indiana has a VIS system comparable to that of Ball State University. Teachers there are pleased to have this resource. VIS is being implemented in the middle school and elementary school of that system as well. Other corporations in Indiana report increased use of video technology--TS80's, IBM Windows, and the new- est Apple computers. Reports and projects incorporating VHS tape and photo equipment are becoming common even in the primary grades.

    Since the early 1970's, Seymour Papert has been championing the use of visual technology in computer- assisted instruction. His premise is that students need to use technology to take charge of their learning and to be- come empowered in their concept development. Papert (1980) speaks to this concern in his book, Mindstorms. Others are finding audiovisual technology an exciting, ef- fective tool for learner engagement, as well. Author David Costello reminds readers of the importance of stu- dent ownership and engagement in the learning process in a recent article entitled Hypermedia in the Classroom:

    New Wine, New Bottles, when he says use of visual tech- nology with "interactive media is one of the most power- ful tools" that can be provided for students in the 1990's. Use of interactive media makes teaching a col- laborative process. "It is easy to forget that these [video technology instruments] are tools and nothing more," says Costello. Since visual stimuli can cause an emo- tional arousal value in less than a second, visuals are powerful tools. Using visuals in combination with other technology in the VIS system enables conceptualization and assimilation of material more quickly than using only auditory and print information. Therefore, the fiber optics system that makes VIS programming possible is a valuable tool to use to communicate information. As more visual technology becomes available, the pioneer- ing leadership of those engaged in VIS networks will continue to give educators' ideas "wings." As VIS tech- nology expands more creative, effective, and efficient methods of sharing information will ensue. As tools from the past have changed the educational environ- ment, the new tools can also shape and empower educa- tors and students.

    Summary "If a picture is worth a thousand words," and if the

    research continues to support the importance of visual in- formation, then VIS is a significant instructional tool. VIS can be a tool to enable both teachers and students to present and receive knowledge in more effective ways for the twenty-first century. A global awareness is in- creasingly important; ideas and values of others need to be shared effectively. VIS can assist in making the edu- cation of future teachers more meaningful, particularly in the area of understanding multicultural perspectives. The students experience more "realism" through the use of visual information. Educators of the future can em- brace the new technology more easily if it is modeled as a part of their educational experience. Technology is a part of the 1990's and will play an increasingly signifi- cant role in education globally in the twenty-first cen- tury information age. Appropriate use of technology such as the VIS system is effective, efficient, enjoyable, and can help provide excellence in education. It allows for expression and expansion of concepts and can focus attention on key issues. It is a valuable tool, and in the hands of a master teacher, can assist in both the cogni- tive and affective domains. VIS is a tool worth investi- gating.

    References Costello, David. (1991). New wine, new bottles,

    HyperNEXUS Journal of hypermedia and multimedia stud- ies. 1 (3), 13.

    Papert, Seymour. (1980). Mindstorms. New York: Basic Books.

    Willows, Dale M. & Houghton, Harvey A. (1987). The psychology of illustration. Vol. 1 : Basic research. New York: Springer-Verlag. 9

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