The first videotape machines appeared in homes and schools in about 1977. By 1985, almost every school in the country had at least one VCR machine.
Yet even today the number of academically oriented videotapes can be counted in hundreds rather than the thousands. Why this is so remains a big mystery, for video has great potential for use in the classroom.
Many college campuses, for instance, have begun to tap into the potential of video. Lectures from first year courses are often available on videotape for later viewing and reviewing. Indeed, some instructors encourage students to view these lectures entirely on their own schedule.
The pedagogical value of a taped lecture is almost identical to the pedagogical value of a live lecture. True, the opportunity to ask clarifying questions is missing when viewing the taped lecture. But such questions can always be asked after viewing the videotape.
What needs to be done is to have similar videotapes available for core academic courses in high school. So students who are interested in learning algebra, biology, or American history could sign out videotapes of top notch teachers lecturing on these subjects.
Mathematics, especially, lends itself to being recorded on videotape. A course in algebra can be broken down into thirty or forty topics that can be covered in hourly video lectures. These tapes, then, would not substitute for regular classroom instruction. They would serve as a supplement to regular classroom instruction.
Such videotapes would be particularly useful for two types of students: those students who are interested in accelerating their studies, and those studies who need extra remediation. The middle core of students, who neither seek acceleration nor remediation, stand to benefit just as much, though.
To make these academic videotapes as widely available as possible, public libraries could add copies of these collection to their current videotape collections. For those few students who didn't have access to a VCR at home, a small VCR viewing room could be set up at each school and library.
Educators have long recognized that different students have different learning styles. For students with a strong visual learning style, academic videotapes could make a strong difference in how such students fare in school. And for students with a strong print oriented learning style, such videotapes could only provide further reinforcement of the concepts covered in textbooks.
The time is ripe to harness the great untapped potential of videotape in the classroom. All students stand to benefit from such experimentation. It's a wonder this technology has gone untapped for so long.
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[This story may be freely copied and distributed for noncommercial purposes. In particular, it may be freely used for any freeeware or shareware software projects. (I'd love to see a copy of anything you make with this.)
I'd be happy to communicate with any software development companies interested in producing multimedia stories. I've written a bunch of stories that lend themselves to multimedia presentation.