Interactive communication and developing educational projects

Ivo Piperkov

 

Abstract: The article deals with the need to re-conceptualise the use of the traditional educational models and to implement new educational methods. The focus is on the interactive training and interactive communication, and in particular on the elements of interaction.  The organisation of the procedures includes the interactive document which gives the students further opportunities in their practical training. The model follows the classic cycle structure, replacing the element of  educational resources with role play. The educational resources are organized to present examples of good practice for using audio and visual, static and dynamic components like expressive means of the multimedia and necessary software for producing and editing these components.

Keywords: interactive communication, interactive training, educational project, educational resources.

Introduction

Today one of our very important tasks is to create interactive communication of people employing various tools, devices and means. Technology has changed the global infrastructure of the media and the ways and forms of communication. There have also been changes in gathering and spreading information in our professions. As a result, traditional lessons and courses in education have been facing the need to change as well. Here we present some experience that helps us how to organize academic training based on analyses of social media from the perspective of human rights. 

Interactive training

Our young students show substantial interest in acquiring practical skills that enable them to play, study or work in the Internet but many of them only keep looking for new applications and do not necessarily understand the inherent risks. These new tools can become dangerous because our learners (as digital natives) are very often teachers to other people from a technological point of view so it is also necessary to develop their knowledge about the risks of the new media. The development of media literacy based on the recognition of human rights can help prevent the dangers. Designing and using good multimedia educational products, this training session may be a little step in this direction.

In this training the overall aims are:

  • to raise the awareness of and promoteeducation for the responsible use and production of content in today’s media environment
  • to design a project as a teaching aid to develop media literacy based on human rights, in young people;
  • to enable teachers to create and produce interactive multimedia educational materials for learners on the theme “Human rights and Web 2.0”

Learning by doing is the most important method for the participants in this project.

The timing of the training session is based on 3×3 45-minute lessons possibly on different days but obviously this can be modified depending on the context and the number of participants;

Next step is individual work for 2 weeks;

In the end we have 2 hours for presentations and final debriefing.

There are two ways to organize the training: face-to-face communication, which is the preferred way, and relying on computer communication entirely.

If we take the first way, the training has to take place in a multimedia lab with computers with internet connection for the whole group (and also for individual work).

Figure 1           Main menu

Main menu

Main menu

We can organize the interaction in different styles – web based, flash product, rich interactive presentation, etc. (fig. 1)

Introducing the training session has specific objectives:

  • to understand the aims of the training

     The trainer informs the participants about the aims of the training;

     The trainer also gives good examples for online educational multimedia projects.

  • to understand the plan (contents, objectives, requirements)

    The trainer informs the participants about the timeline for developing their projects.

     The trainer informs the participants about the scheme of creating their own individual multimedia educational projects. The trainer also needs to inform the group that the training will combine theory and practice and will gradually go from a preliminary design of the multimedia project to its implementation

  • to practice working on a platform for project needs.

It is not enough only to use instructive video if the work is organized without face-to-face communication. We have to prepare in advance very carefully for necessary interactive communication and shall not forget that the participants want to understand what they are expected to do, and how they can get down to doing it. Probably, it is better to use flash or interactive presentation instead of instructive video.

Many of us use Moodle platform for project needs. Moodle is a good platform (if created before the first meeting) where participants will have the opportunity to communicate, ask questions and share products. The trainer needs to upload educational matter and some presentations for the participants on the Moodle platform in advance. He/she informs participants that new educational matter will become available on the Moodle platform during the training course.

Traditionally, in the beginning, the trainer presents the Moodle platform where the participants will have the opportunity to communicate, ask questions and share content during the following weeks. After that the participants do their registration on the Moodle platform and post their first comments or questions to the trainer. If we haven’t face-to-face communication our success is connected with one question: Is the instructive video good enough for understanding how to work on that platform?

In our interactive training the Overview has three parts: Overview with instructions; Overview presentation for steps in work (fig. 2); and Overview for using Moodle platform.

Overview with instructions can be not only an instructive movie showing an attractive lecturer who is telling something important or a video showing the cursor’s way on the screen demonstrating how to use links. It also reveals  opportunity for interactive testing with flash.

Figure 2           Links to Overview presentation for steps in work

Links to Overview presentation for steps in work

Links to Overview presentation for steps in work

Our training has module structure (fig. 1).  Every module is organised with “Challenge cycle”. The traditional “Challenge cycle” includes five elements – Challenge movie, Initial thoughts, Resources, Revised thinking, Group work. We understand well that this is not enough for good practice. It starts with a short movie with instructions about what to look out for. We use five elements, but the structure is not the same. Our concept of “Challenge cycle” is demonstrated in the next four parts.

They all begin with a “Challenge movie” to activate every participant. In “Initial thoughts” the participants have to write down their first ideas in a document. After some group discussion and reading resource materials, participants revise their initial ideas. All the necessary files can be uploaded on each computer in Moodle in advance. In the “Conclusion” stage all the groups present their results for feedback and comments from the others. The structure is flexible and we can always add the latest and most appropriate documents – new texts, new movies, or clips from a local TV into “Resources”. We can also include links to useful websites. Figure 3, figure 4, figure 5 and figure 6 illustrate four types of the “Challenge cycle”.

In our training the first module is for introducing and analysing Human Rights. Figure 3 illustrates this Challenge cycle

Figure 3           Challenge cycle for introducing and analysing our subject, HR on the basis of resources prepared  in advance

Challenge cycle for introducing and analysing our subject, HR on the basis of resources prepared  in advance

Challenge cycle for introducing and analysing our subject, HR on the basis of resources prepared in advance

The elements of interaction are organized in the next procedure:

  • The challenge movie presents the major topics of Human Rights education;
  • The participants work in a challenge cycle where they can individually gather information from previously prepared resources (hyperlinks to The European Convention on Human Rights, Starting Points for Teachers, COMPASS, etc.);
  • The participants choose one of the human rights, listed, and write down their initial thoughts on how they can use the multimedia tools to present this human right to their students at school;
  • The participants discuss the results in small groups and type their best ideas into a word document on their computers;
  • The small groups present the results of their discussions;
  • The participants are encouraged to ask questions.

The next Challenge cycle is organized very near to the same procedure, but including the interactive document in our work gives us larger  opportunities (fig. 4).

  • The challenge movie gives the major topics for one of the social media;
  • The participants choose different Web 2.0 tools (Publish, Share, Discuss, etc.) and with the help of the hyperlinks they surf individually for their applications on the social media landscape;
  • The participants type down their initial thoughts individually and discuss (in small groups) the possible uses of social networking in education;
  • Then they present the results of group work to the plenary;

Figure 4           Analysing social media landscape

Analysing social media landscape

Analysing social media landscape

The role play in the next Challenge Cycle is the new element of interaction (fig. 5). There are many methods how to organize this part of our training. For example, in this module it is necessary for the participants to understand how they can organize the discussion with their students about the potential dangers of using the new media. This model follows the  classic cycle structure, replacing educational resources with the role play.

Figure 5           Knowledge in the social media landscape

Knowledge in the social media landscape

Knowledge in the social media landscape

The accent in our last example for Challenge Cycle is placed on the necessary interaction in practical training (fig. 6).

The participants select the key components of their project’s content. They try to develop their first idea and plan a simple structure of their multimedia project;

Figure 6           Challenge Cycle for preliminary design of interactive educational project

Challenge Cycle for preliminary design of interactive educational project

Challenge Cycle for preliminary design of interactive educational project

The educational resources are organized to present examples of good practice for using audio and visual, static and dynamic components like expressive means of the multimedia (fig. 7) and necessary software for producing and editing these components. Many of these examples  presenting good practice for navigation and interactivity in multimedia products.

Figure 7           Resources structure

Resources structure

Resources structure

The following steps are very important for every educational project of the same type:

  • Structure the presentation of information in modules;
  • Incorporate interactivity in the multimedia modules;
  • Test the modules for preliminary assessment and corrections;
  • Connect the modules within an overall structure;
  • Test the complete project (correction and optimizing the expressive means and the level of interactivity);
  • Prepare the methodological documentation for using the interactive product in education.

Conclusion

It is self-evident that the displayed structure is flexible for it gives us the chance of adding the latest and most appropriate documents – new texts, new movies, or links, clips and presentations. We can also include new useful interactive elements.

Additional literature

  • Piperkov, Ivo. 2004, A model for the development of a multimedia educational project // Training and education, Sofia, pp. 433-435 (in Bulgarian)
  • Piperkov, Ivo. 2009, Media and human rights // Training, profession implementation and social status of social worker, Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”, pp. 469-473  (in Bulgarian)

Multimedia product

  • Microsoft Program Partners in Learning – School Leader Development: Building 21st Century Schools (original and localization in Bulgarian)

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