Multimedia Systems

Reflecting on our recent presentations on media in learning technologies, over the last 80 years

What did you learn about the research methods and findings from this period? What do people in our field view as most important from that period? Do you see parallels today?

Our group studied research methods and findings through the 1970s; instead of parallels we have more “sequels” – for instance, instead of educational television and radio, our field looks more at digital media. Instead of Cold war fears spurring educational funding and soul-searching, the concern is over competition with China, etc.

It has, however, been hard to find specific games that are as influential and covered in the literature as Oregon Trail was through the 1970s and 1980s, and some of the other microgames of the past. In our video game class this summer, I was surprised that the bulk of writing on historical games was on Civilization, but that I could not find articles with quantitative studies on the game. (I assume some dissertations may have touched on this, though, and will keep reading). I felt that everything discussed in the next group’s presentation, namely issues of the community of inquiry, community of practice, and modality of media, are still very important and present in our field.

Reflecting on the 2008 to 2018 period presentation, “ELearning” and “ICT” are two terms that are commonly seen in literature in our field, and there is an emphasis on mobile-based learning. I have been surprised that there is very little on accessibility in the literature, in light of the federal government recently demanding better actions. In the wake of increased popularity of podcasting, there are still relatively few quantitative and long-term studies.

The virtual laboratory software and connected assessments described by Douglas, as well as Kim’s discussion of social media, are two topics that I think should be given more attention in our field. I know from some of my own research that most of the literature on virtual laboratories is in specific health science and related educational journals, where some of the best wisdom in our field, over decades, is not widely known or tested.

Social media, on the other hand, I think is seen as more of a computer-mediated communication tool, but not necessarily as a place where instructional design takes place; more of a locale for feedback from learners. During my master’s degree, the first time I was asked to draft a design for a game, I was told to envision a game that could be played within Facebook; yet, I think that the phenomenon of game and other apps within social tools are understudied, as well as their underlying design and technologies, especially considering the recent Cambridge Analytica and related controversies over how our data is being studied.

I tended to disagree with Austin about future litigiousness in our field over content (versus accessibility – which I do think will continue to lead to massive lawsuits), though he has also brought up UDL, which has its stalwart encouragers, and I appreciate that they can often be seen at conferences. Maybe I misunderstood, but I thought my disagreement might have to do with his speaking from more of a K-12 educator’s background, which I frequently admit I have less understanding of, except what I have heard from my present cohort or previous classmates at my master’s institution. It may be that K-12 educators are grappling with slightly different battles than in higher education, or just as likely that I had the luck to have my first educational technology job at a higher ed institution that focused a strategy early and often on distance education, and picked apart the TEACH Act and similar laws very carefully. My former employer was ahead of the ball in purchasing a solution for captioning, and picking a better media management system. When I and the then-head of training discussed using Creative Commons-licensing instead of copyrighted works, they supported me not only in doing so personally but in training my coworkers, faculty and others beyond the school in how to use Creative Commons. The flip side is that as a department we shied away from allowing faculty to use their fair use rights.

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