Bringing the Classroom to the Web...
Bringing the Classroom to the Web: Effects of Using New Technologies to Capture and Deliver Lectures Eric L. Dey �� Helen E. Burn �� David Gerdes Received: 11 June 2007 / Published online: 22 January 2009 �� Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009 Abstract Technology expands instructional options for faculty, and this study examines the differential learning effects of offering a lecture on physics to students in a traditional classroom versus internet video formats. Based on an experiment conducted in a natural educational context, results indicate enhanced transfer of lecture information in the video formats relative to the live condition, with students also responding more positively to personalized video presentation. Keywords College students Learning Instructional technology Distance learning Lecture capture President James A. Garfield once remarked that the ideal college education was Mark Hopkins, President of Williams College, on one end of a log and a student on the other (Rudolph 1956). With the advent of electronic mail, the World Wide Web, and video- conferencing technologies, that ideal can be morphed into a virtual Mark Hopkins writing a blog, with geographically dispersed students co-constructing it via a web interface. Today, college students��� computer expertise often exceeds that of their professors (Tapscott 1997). They arrive on campuses ready to engage information in new ways, only to find faculty who are reluctant to alter their traditional and entrenched teaching approaches. Duderstadt (2000) argued that this digital generation would soon be E. L. Dey (&) Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education, 2117 School of Education, 610 E. University Avenue, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org H. E. Burn Department of Mathematics, Pure and Applied Sciences Division, Highline Community College, Des Moines, WA, USA D. Gerdes Physics Department, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA 123 Res High Educ (2009) 50:377���393 DOI 10.1007/s11162-009-9124-0
demanding more interactive instruction, forcing colleges and universities to publish information in forms accessible through various devices. Campuses have responded by offering administrative material via cell phone, packaging and distributing course content via PDAs, and offering various content through new Podcasting technologies (Crofts et al. 2005). Such demands will challenge institutions and their faculty members to continuously rethink the role of technology in instruction���even as market and policy changes are redefining postsecondary education. Existing research on faculty adoption of teaching technologies shows a range of responses that spans stubborn resistance to eager early adoption. Studies directed at explaining this range of adoption reveal that instructional use of technology is multi- dimensional, involving interplay between faculty attitudes (Baldwin 1998 Paloff and Pratt 2001), professional characteristics (Corwin and Marcinkiewicz 1998), perceptions of the value of technology (Massy and Wilger 1998 ���An Online Experience��� 1995), and insti- tutional factors (i.e., reward structures, classroom infrastructures, institutional IT resources) (Grunwald 2004 Walburton and Chen 2002 Mitra et al. 1999 Gibson and Nocente 1998 Jacobson 1998 Knutel 1998). It is also important to remember that deci- sions to use technology in instruction are embedded in the personal epistemological beliefs of individual faculty (Hofer and Pintrich 1997), and that these beliefs guide the decisions faculty make about learning outcomes for their students, and the methods they believe will be most effective in achieving those outcomes (Stark and Lattuca 1997). Thus, resistance to the use of technology in teaching may not reflect actual technology concerns, but rather a more diffuse and deeply entrenched set of beliefs and practices (Paulsen and Feldman 1995) and general trends in teaching practices (Trice and Dey 1997). Some level of guidance or assistance for faculty interested in using technology is available at most institutions, which underscores the belief that technology can be effec- tively used for instructional purposes (Bransford et al. 1999). While general guidance is plentiful, the evidence-base on the educational consequences of specific technology applications on college student learning is, however, neither large nor readily accessible to faculty seeking to make decisions about the kinds of outcomes they might expect from the deployment of different technologies in the classroom. The goal of this study is to provide empirical evidence linking specific learning out- comes with the use of technology in education. Cognitive design principles for creating multimedia instructional messages (or presentations) (Mayer 2001) were used to develop and explore the effects of different presentation modes on student learning outcomes, such as retention of material and transfer of information to new settings. As used here, multi- media refers to information being presented in two or more perceptual modalities (e.g., visual and auditory). While proficient instructors may develop skills that make use of such principles without articulating them specifically, it is useful to explicitly model and test such principles to guide faculty activity and development efforts. We sought to understand technological factors that influence learning, with specific focus on differences in learning related to seeing an image of a lecturer in a multimedia presentation. While previous research on this topic has been conducted in laboratory settings, this study was conducted as a field-based clinical trial and seeks to examine these issues in the more natural context provided by an undergraduate physics course at a large, selective research university. Intended as a building-block toward more generalizable efforts, this study also intends to inspire additional research connecting traditional higher education scholarship to efforts connecting research to practice through the development of approaches commonly known as the scholarship of teaching and learning (Huber and Hutchings 2005). 378 Res High Educ (2009) 50:377���393 123
Conceptual Framework and Supporting Literature A recent ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report, Quality in Distance Education: Focus on On-line learning (Meyer 2002), encourages the application of cognitive theory from the field of multimedia learning to research on web-based education. Multimedia learning is learning from pictures (e.g., video, animation, graphics, or illustrations) and words (e.g., printed or spoken words). The report states, ������The relationship of multimedia learning to the Web is not so far removed as one might expect, as both use visual, auditory, and text- based communication������ (Meyer 2002, p. 27). Multimedia learning is when information is presented simultaneously in two or more formats, such as words and pictures (Mayer 2001). One essential element in cognitive theories of learning is cognitive load theory (Sweller 1994). Cognitive load refers to the ������total amount of mental activity imposed on working memory at an instance in time������ (Cooper 1998, p. 11). Cognitive load theory, then, is primarily concerned with the limitations of working memory and views the ������limitations of working memory to be the primary impediment to learning������ (Cooper 1998, p. 31). Drawing on Sweller���s cognitive load theory, Mayer (2001) developed a cognitive theory suggesting that multimedia learning can be created in way that leads to a reduction in cognitive load and optimizes the use working memory. Mayer���s theory is based on three assumptions: the dual channel assumption (Paivio 1986 Baddeley 1992), the limited capacity assumption, and the active processing assumption (Baddeley 1992 Chandler and Sweller 1991). The dual channel assumption is that humans have partially separate visual and auditory channels for receiving and processing information, effectively allowing distinct, multiple inputs that do not inherently conflict with one another. The alternative is to assume that all information enters the cognitive system through a single channel regardless of modality. The limited capacity assumption is that there is a limit on the amount of information we can process in each channel at any one time. The active pro- cessing assumption is that humans are active processors seeking to make sense of multimedia presentations. A well-established concept in cognitive science is that learners apply cognitive pro- cesses to make sense of incoming material. Mayer believes that multimedia learning occurs when learners engage in different kinds of cognitive processing: selecting words, selecting images, organizing words, organizing images, and integrating these elements. In selecting words and images, humans transfer externally presented visual or verbal information from sensory memory into working memory. Once in working memory, learners organize this selected material into a coherent representation or model, such as a process, comparison, generalization, enumeration, or classification (Chambliss and Caffee 1998 Cook and Mayer 1988). By integrating, we create connections between new knowledge and stored knowledge. This involves bringing stored knowledge from long-term memory into working memory, which can be further enhanced by following a number of design principles derived from this theoretical perspective (Mayer 2001 Table 1). Mayer used his cognitive theory of multimedia learning to develop seven design principles intended to increase retention and transfer of material. All seven principles have a strong theoretical and empirical rationale, and are drawn from the assumption that learners have separate visual and auditory channels receiving and processing information (which allows distinct inputs to not be in conflict with one another), have limited ability to process incoming infor- mation, and that that humans are active processors seeking to make sense of multimedia presentations. Mayer���s design principles are significantly influenced by a notion called the split- attention effect (Sweller et al. 1990), which occurs when students attend to more than one Res High Educ (2009) 50:377���393 379 123