Sunday, February 9, 2014

Multimedia Classroom And Digital Contents

Good Evening everyone, this post is mainly aimed at importance of multimedia classroom, digital contents and its importance. Although I will mostly speak from a point of view of a developing country Bangladesh, where I live in.

Bangladesh, a south Asian developing country, we have a schooling system that is pretty old and existing system is based solely on reading and writing. Mainly students study from books, text books which are old too and then they sit for an examination where all they have to do is to write down what they have read throughout the year. The person who has better memorizing capability and fast enough to write everything down will get more marks. So the whole system depends on just reading and writing. Speaking and watching are neglected to a point where most students don’t even develop these skills which not only limits the ability to learn more but cause issues in the future. Let me give you a small real life example, when I was in school we had to study social science in which we learned about history, politics, solar system, and economics unfortunately all we had to do is to read from just one textbook, memorize it and that’s all. Not to mention that was obviously not that pleasant.
Assume a student has to study on an antiquities, maybe Somapura Mahavihara (yes we had to study this), all the resource he/she has is the textbook and he/she has to memorize it, but if a video and a few high resolution pictures were shown in the classroom it will be a whole lot of easier for him/her to understand and memorize.
I do remember in the school I studied the subject computer studies, and this subject was also very much textbook depended rather than directly using the computer, I understand for a country like us computer can’t be provided to everyone so the books can’t be that advanced but I hoped it would be better, like if we had to do small C or C++ programming it would be really awesome.
Ture that printed books are good for reading but that is for just joy reading. In schools learning is important too and if schools deploy newer technologies that are available will help students to understand stuffs easily and effortlessly. Let’s assume a hypothetical situation where classrooms have large interactive displays, we won’t be needing chalk or marker boards. Teacher can just write on the surface of that display and it will be displayed. Fonts, colors, designs can be modified easily. It will not only decrease the overall need for consumable materials but also make it easier for both instructor and students to learn. In such a display showing a video is also simple. Say the teacher is teaching Pascal’s law in physics if the teacher shows a video of how the force are working and all it will be lot easier for a student to understand. Now like I was saying paper books are good but carrying paper books are a tough work. Students in our country has to carry multiple books which is pretty heavy. If everyone has a small computer or a tab he/she can store each and every book in it and moreover if school provides wi-fi internet or local file access, students can easily directly watch those videos or use those contents. Thus they will be using watching reading listening at the same time and sure it will be more efficient.

Current Condition

Good to know that currently things are changing, Bangladesh is diving more into technology oriented things. Now all the textbooks can be found in the government website and they are free to download.  This allows students to easily download the textbooks and read them. Moreover many schools have started multimedia classrooms which helps students to easily study.

Multimedia Classroom

The word multimedia has self-explanation, multimedia consists of multiple media, which might be audio, video, text and anything else. Unlike the earlier classroom style multimedia classroom will provide students with the access to information through multiple media system. Like in earlier textbook was the only thing, now in a multimedia class an audio-video representation might be presented and of course watching a video will result in better understanding of that topic rather than just reading it from textbook.
For multimedia classroom there should be digital contents and teachers capable of using these contents.

Digital Contents

Now-a-days, you can't go one mouse click without stumbling on digital content. Also known as digital media, digital content comes in many forms, from text and audio and videos files, to graphics, animations, and images. Typically, digital content refers to information available for download or distribution on electronic media such as an ebook reader or in computer, but many in the content industry argue that digital content is anything that can be published. Following this line of thinking, it is safe to say that if you are on the internet, most likely you are looking at, watching, or listening to a piece of digital content.

As a developing country digital content is not that popular yet, but its getting popularity. Even a few years ago this idea was not that popular, students and teachers or even research personnel used paper books and stuffs like that. Now just think about this, how digital content can help you and make your wok easier, if you have to find a certain topic you have to go through the whole paper book, maybe line by line but if its electronic, you can just search for the keyword and it will show up all the matching words! Just imagine how it is lessening your workload, moreover if you think about the size, just imagine how much space you will need to keep 10,000 paper books? Huge area, you will need, kind of like a library or something. But you can store 10,000 electronic books in a cellphone that has 32GB of memory say a HTC one! Isn't it really convenient? 

For multimedia classroom digital contents are essential. Digital contents can be like electronic text books which can be displayed on the interactive display or display on a screen via projector or videos on topics which are relevant to the study. Like I mentioned above I’m happy to see PDF copies of all the textbooks which can easily be shown on a display or on a screen using a projector. But amount of digital contents are still low, digital contents should be created according to the topics.

To develop digital contents trained persons should come forward. Those who are developing these contents should have a good knowledge on the curriculum and proper ways to make a student easily understand the topics. Complexion should be avoided.

Digital Contents in Bangladesh

Like I said earlier, digital contents are not yet popular among us, mainly because technology has not improved that much yet. If we consider the percentage of people who can access computer and internet, that number won't be a very big. But still I'm glad to see that current government has taken steps to create and freely distribute digital content. This can create a huge breakthrough. But to do so government must ensure these contents can be accessed by everyone, everyone of this country.

You can easily download all the school and college text books from here.  So, we are also advancing and in proper direction.

Software and Hardware Requirements:

To establish a proper multimedia classroom hardware and software is needed. If we want to create such a classroom we will both need an interactive board, which is a display actually, and touch sensitive so that if we write with a pen (touch pen) it will be written directly on the display. We have to hook up the display with a computer so that we can play video on it, according to topics, or we can open up the text book or curriculum or plan. It will surely lower the efforts and maximize efficiency. It will be much faster than traditional way. If we can’t manage an interactive display then a projector and screen would work as a substitute. Projector should be connected to a computer so that contents can be displayed on the screen.
For viewing contents we need proper software installed on the computer. For video we need video player and for document file we need document reader.
Moreover interactive software can be used for quiz or multiple choice type questions.

Final Words

Digital content, e-learning, multimedia classroom can pave the way to a more effective, more enjoyable and less effort demanding classrooms. Where learning will be fun, interesting. This whole idea is still flourishing, more and more efforts should be given in this particular area. 
First of all, these contents should be free for everyone. As a developing country where a good amount of people live under the poverty line, many of us won’t be able to buy digital contents.
Secondly, steps should be taken so that people all over the country can access these contents. If we think about a rural area or a remote village where computer or internet is not available, steps should be taken to make sure that those areas are brought under coverage.
Thirdly, if we think about schools that are situated in the city, capital city, these schools are well off, so they can easily set up the necessary hardware and software that is needed. But schools located in villages might not be able to spend that much money, government should help them to set stuffs up.
Next a very good initiative was Doel laptop, I have no idea why it was stopped.  It was a very affordable piece of hardware. With only 13K BDT anyone can get this and it is enough for running software that can show PDF documents and videos. So, with this anyone can use the positive side of digital contents.
Moreover teachers can use this Laptop in their classroom to show slides, videos, documents, animations etc.
Trained people should come forward to create digital contents. 

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