Authors: Chun-Ming Hung, Gwo-Jen Hwang, and Iwen Huang
Journal: Educational Technology & Society, 15 (4), 368-379
In this study, the authors proposed to investigate the learning differences between a traditional project-based learning activity and a project-based digital storytelling approach. The study was conducted with fifth-graders in Taiwan over a period of sixteen weeks. The students studied a science course which was called “I am the energy-saving master”. Five learning tasks were focused on including: the factors of global warming, how to save energy, comparing the energy consumption of household appliances, energy-saving actions, and my house saves the most energy. The control group did general project-based learning, while the experimental group did project-based learning using digital storytelling. Meta-Analyzer, a web-based information searching system, was used by the students in the experimental group to find data which answered teacher provided questions. Microsoft’s Photo Story was used to make movies for illustrating the data that was collected for the project.
Why did the authors favor project-based learning in the first place? Probably because this approach involves students in higher order thinking skills in the modified version of Bloom’s Taxonomy. It also fosters a collaborative, cooperative, situated and social learning event. The authors wanted to take this approach further though, by increasing motivation, and scaffolding the students’ organization of information.
After using the Meta-Analyzer to bring in data and answer questions about the content, students in the experimental group had to take pictures in their home of energy-saving measures. They then used Microsoft Photo Story to drag, and arrange photos. The students in the control group did use internet research, but placed their data collection into a PowerPoint file.
The experimental group scored higher on a science learning motivation post-test. They also scored higher on a problem-solving competence posttest. Lastly, they scored higher on a science learning achievement posttest. These results were found for both genders.
NETS*S 1. Creativity and Innovation is addressed by the use of the moviemaking software. Prior to creating their movie, the students must use the existing knowledge to create picture/scenes which would depict energy savings. NETS*S 2. Communication and Collaboration is involved in the information gathering that the students are working on with their peers and the movie making project team. NETS*S 3. Research and Information Fluency is addressed with the use of the Meta-Analyzer. NETS*S 4. Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making goals are met with the movie making project as the students have to decide what pictures to use, how to caption them, take into consideration all viewpoints in their group and complete their project. NETS*S 5. Digital Citizenship and 6. Technology Operations and Concepts are also an integral part of this project. Students have to have a good attitude about using the technology involved. Creativity is met in this project as students are tackling an authentic real world concern using collaborative tools.
NETS*T 2. Design and Develop Digital Age Learning Experiences and Assessments are addressed with the digital tools that are used and the fact that students are directing their own learning. NETS*T 3. Model Digital Age Work and Learning is met when the teachers show the students how to use the meta-analyzer tool to support their research and how to express their learning via the final film project. NETS*T 4. The teachers are also modeling digital citizenship by showing the appropriate use of the research tool and the movie making software.
I found this article to be of interest because of the many NETS goals that it does cover. I think it would be useful with a fourth or fifth-grade class and up. I could not locate the particular meta-analyzer that was used in the study and this was disappointing. I am hoping that through my resource search, I will find a similar tool. I think this type of project could be done with many science topics and some social studies topics. I think it would be fun to have students research historical community information and then take pictures for a movie about community landmarks or sharing cultural customs. Science topics might include city water treatment or sustainability efforts. It would maybe even lend itself to a math project such as finding geometric shapes in the school or community, or finding examples of where estimation or measurement is used.
If I were to use it with a class, I would do a lot of pre-planning to insure that I could model the use of the research tool with the class and the movie making software. This would be a nice project to share at an all school assembly. It might also be nice to have these movies playing while parents wait for conference time. Project-based learning with the added elements of newer technology is shown to be motivating to students and would be impressive to share with parents as well.