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TV, teaching and technology

Tips for the digital classroom

It’s now easier than ever to use audiovisual content in education. Fast access to the internet, the convenience of streaming, display via interactive whiteboards and the emerging trend of BYOD (tablets and/or PCs), mean screens are ubiquitous and the setup for AV is seamless in the majority of classrooms.

This ease of access has made TV an even more valuable educational resource than it’s ever been, increasing the demand for quality, curated content that can be used in the classroom quickly and easily.

Three Australian educators using EnhanceTV Direct - an online streaming service that provides schools with fast, easy access to curated educational content from broadcast TV – tell in interviews with journalist Sandy George, how they get the most out of TV in teaching.

EnhanceTV Direct was developed to help Australian schools use film and TV in the digital classroom. EnhanceTV is a subsidiary of Screenrights, the not-for-profit organisation that licenses schools to use copied broadcast TV for educational purposes.

Case Study

#1

Sue Torr,

Macarthur Girls High

School,

Parramatta, NSW

PHOTO – Macarthur Girls High School.

Photo by Philippe Penel.

Image credit: The Sapphires, The Sapphires Film Holdings

“Students live in a digital world where everything is visual and immediate,” says Sue Torr, head teacher in the Personal Development, Health and Physical Education Faculty of Macarthur Girls High School in Parramatta in western Sydney. “I think the way they learn has changed. They need a bit of amusement and visual elements; some song and dance.”

Torr estimates that she uses some sort of audio-visual content in up to 50 per cent of her classes and sources that content from Enhance TV Direct in probably half of those classes. Recently for example, for a unit on parenting in year 12 Community and Family Studies, she used clips about fostering children and also disciplining children from the SBS show Insight.

“It’s not all chalk and talk anymore. I might start or conclude a lesson with some video content, or use it to stimulate discussion or to provide different points of view on a subject. Often I will create a worksheet as well to get the most out of the content and sometimes I use the study guides that Enhance TV provides. I couldn’t show all the episodes of Once Upon a Time in Cabramatta so I used parts of the guide to give the students background to some of the characters they were seeing in the clips.”

Torr is the administrator at the public school and paved the way for a free EnhanceTV Direct three-month trial. The service was adopted after evaluation. Fortuitously, the internal video system irretrievably broke down around that time and a computer, digital projector and big screen were installed in every classroom, enabling staff to combine this technology with EnhanceTV.

She tries to make a habit of scanning through the new programs weekly and giving other teachers a heads-up about programs appropriate to them and particularly likes how the functionality allows her to archive what she identifies as useful – whole programs and clips – under various subject headings.

Case Study

#2

Ruth Jorm,

Canberra College, Woden

Campus, ACT

“To run any information service effectively you have to curate the collection,” says Ruth Jorm, a teacher librarian at The Canberra College, which principally caters to Year 11 and Year 12 students. “Teachers are so busy and don’t have time to browse through everything; I spend a lot of time packaging up and ‘selling’ materials to teachers.”

Jorm has worked in web development and successfully proposed that the institution sign on for EnhanceTV Direct in mid-2013. She is now a big advocate and uses it to locate videos on particular subject categories, then upload links to her selections to the library website.

She handles specific requests too of course but finds that she is now pre-empting teachers’ needs by highlighting certain programs mentioned in the EnhanceTV Direct weekly guide, which she receives and distributes widely among staff. But it is not just teachers that Jorm is servicing; all the students have log-in details too. Some of the research projects they do, she says, are university-level.

“The big thing for me – and I have had experience with other systems – was finding a service that would do the recording for us, host the servers so it would not have an impact on our IT people and be cost effective,” says Jorm, who had previously purchased DVDs from EnhanceTV so was well aware of the large numbers of programs that were automatically recorded.

“Teachers here use videos for a lot of reasons. Australian feature films and other Australian programming directly relates to media studies and we also use subject-specific material, particularly from the ABC, SBS and the BBC because it is well researched, engaging in a very meaningful way and often pitched at exactly the right level.”

Because of the high quality of the video content available on subjects such as human interaction and the way the brain works, teachers of psychology are very high users, she added.

Case Study

#3

Debbie Hunter, Brisbane

Grammar School,

Brisbane, QLD

PHOTO – Brisbane Grammar School

One night in June, Debbie Hunter could hear her husband in the next room, thoroughly enjoying something on television. She thought he was watching the World Cup but afterwards he told her no, it had been a program on the industrial revolution and it had been “incredible”. She was easily able to locate it within the EnhanceTV Direct environment and add it to her school’s permanent intranet page on this significant industrial transition.

“If it’s not on EnhanceTV it’s not worth watching,” says Hunter, who is constantly adding online links to such subject-specific pages to assist her work and that of other teachers and students across the curriculum.

“EnhanceTV Direct is a huge boost to the way I do my job. Visual material has become very important in the classroom and we are all very hungry for very specific information across an extraordinary range of subject matter that is the Australian Curriculum. We are constantly looking for that perfect resource.”

She describes her school as progressive and says it is accepted that using video can be a very powerful way of learning, providing students are given good guidance. Hunter’s title is teaching and learning librarian in the senior library. She describes herself as a teacher first – though she doesn’t have her own class – and a librarian second. She joined Brisbane Grammar School from Sydney’s Scots College in 2013 and brought EnhanceTV Direct with her.

“I took part in the trials of EnhanceTV Direct in the very early days and love the product: it’s so relevant and important.”

Brisbane Grammar is a non-denominational day and boarding school for boys in Years Five to 12 and Hunter says it was one of the first to give students direct access to EnhanceTV Direct. Specifically, Year Nine and older students have had access since the second term of 2014. She can easily see from the analytics that the students have watched 570 videos in this environment between then and June 30. She can also tell that 22 teachers have been actively creating lesson plans and tasks using some of EnhanceTV Direct’s features.

“I’d rather the students be on EnhanceTV than Googling because I know the chaff has been sifted out and that everything on it is OK for them to be watching. I can recommend it with confidence.”
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