Multimedia to Promote Learning

  • Liu D
  • Amagai S
  • Bricken J
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There are many Web sites supporting instruction in the life sciences. One such effort, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's (HHMI's) Biolnteractive (, developed from a focus on practicing scientists explaining their research; engaging explanations driven by compelling examples and graphics; and meaningful dialogue with instructors to improve products and to facilitate classroom adoption of materials. Biolnteractive is a library of multimedia resources to support teaching. The content is a product of interactions between scientists and educators, mediated by a team of production specialists. To make materials convenient for use in teaching, content is free and offered in a variety of formats, for example, video streamed or for file download. Among those who voluntarily provide feedback, the majority identify themselves as high school and college educators, although students also visit the site. Biolnteractive arose to provide online support to the HHMI Holiday Lectures on Science, presented by leading scientists and including videos, scientific demonstrations, and animations. Advances in online video make the lectures a resource for teachers and students. The Biolnteractive development team works closely with teachers to develop interactive features, teacher guides, standards and curricula correlations, lessons, and hands-on activities that make use of and extend the multimedia resources. We look for consensus among teachers over whether materials meet various local and national standards and are likely to fit the curricula of classroom teachers. We have adapted our materials to the Advanced Placement (AP) biology curriculum and have published guides tying Biolnteractive materials to topics in the high school curriculum, such as biotechnology or immunology. As the audience has grown, Biolnteractive has enjoyed favorable recognition. Teacher enthusiasm for the materials is high, but we have not yet directly evaluated student enthusiasm or measured learning outcomes. To address this, we have begun pilot projects to field-test methods for directly measuring the impact of various Web features on student learning in a classroom setting, as well as in a setting without instructors. We hope to learn whether instructor enthusiasm for the materials is well founded, as well as to understand the impact that educational videos can have when used by students as a component of free-choice learning. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

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  • Dennis Liu

  • Satoshi Amagai

  • Jennifer Bricken

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