Client: Atlanta Computer Currents Magazine
As managing editor of ACC, I was responsible for coverage of various high-tech industry conferences and special events. The following excerpt is from an article describing High Tech Month Conference Day in October, 1993. In comparison with the state of the computer industry today, a decade later, much of this article seems rather quaint.
Multimedia and Optimism Enthuse Conference Day Attendees
Multimedia stole the show during High Tech Month Conference Day, October 27 at Inforum. Not everyone relishes waking up to a poetry reading, but the conference started in high gear with a multimedia presentation of Tennyson’s “Ulysses” and maintained its speed during a day of lectures and demonstrations. The mood for next year was set with an optimistic panel discussion with several prominent members of the Georgia high technology community. High Tech Month 1993 has quite a tough act to follow.
Multimedia in Education
The breakfast meeting set an upbeat tone for the day as Jerry Caldwell, marketing director of EduQuest, spoke about the educational advantages of bringing high-tech to the schools. “Computer technology is not integrated into the classroom,” said Caldwell. “We must bring technology in under the control of the teacher.” When computers enter the classroom, the roles of the teacher and the students are changed.
Traditional lecture-based teaching is one of the least effective methods of education because the student is passive, using only one or two senses. But with multimedia technology, students become actively engaged in their own learning process. The teacher-student relationship shifts to something akin to a manager-worker relationship, Caldwell maintained; “Students learn that they are responsible for learning.”
One of the most important results of a high-technology classroom is the virtual reduction of the teacher-to-student ratio. Students usually are divided into small groups to facilitate the use of the computer station, and those groups allow the teacher to focus on a few students at a time. The teacher is no longer required to teach to the median level of a 30-student class, but can give much more individualized attention to a group of five or six children at a time. The groups also promote cooperative learning (“In my day they called that cheating,” quipped Caldwell) as well as individually paced education–crucial to the success of “slower” learners.
According to Caldwell we must “migrate the excitement of entertainment into the classroom” to compete with MTV and the rest of the media that bombards children. That infusion of excitement makes it easier to create motivation: students respond to multimedia, and learning becomes relevant and fun.
Breakfast with Ulysses
Fun was certainly the reaction as Caldwell demonstrated an EduQuest “Illustrated Books and Manuscripts” multimedia package designed to teach Tennyson’s poem “Ulysses.” Equipping a PS/2 with a laserdisc and a specially tailored graphical interface enables even the most techno-phobic user to take advantage of a wealth of information.
Caldwell showed how one might choose to have the poem read aloud by one of six actors, how to get definitions for archaic diction, and how to access an interpretation of a passage; the package even allows the user to pit two scholars in a debate over the work. Broader topics such as poetic forms are also included, which makes the application more than a focus on one piece of literature. Caldwell’s demonstration was convincing evidence of the advantages of multimedia education.