An Action Research Project by Matthew Yandell (P.E.)
Reading time: 5 minutes
To explore the impact of audio PowerPoints on pupils’ learning.
This action research project was undertaken in response to the need for pupils to have greater access to information and teaching material outside of school.
The BTEC Level 2 in Sport qualification is 75% coursework based. This requires pupils to work independently outside of school, completing their coursework in their own time. All pupils are provided with a PowerPoint presentation which supports each lesson/task. On a number of occasions pupils have commented how they have attempted the work at home and used the PowerPoint which supports the unit but cannot link the PowerPoint information with classroom based discussions around the specific subject.
Key information is displayed in the PowerPoint, however many important discussions which lead on from the PowerPoints take place around the subject and context of each slide.
As a result, I wanted to research the validity of vocal/audio commentaries which accompany each PowerPoint and tasks to support and improve both independent and individual learning.
Why the PowerPoint focus?
PowerPoint feels like the obvious tool to focus this research on. As a program it is available worldwide and can be opened in different formats. It has evolved over the past 10 years and is a dynamic tool which can be used to ‘hyperlink’ to the worldwide web, twitter, YouTube etc.
Bersin and Associates claim that it is the ‘2nd most popular tool for training’ this is behind Dreamweaver. http://blog.bersin.com/is-powerpoint-an-e-learning-tool/
Within education it is used by many teachers. In fact most theoretical lessons in a classroom will usually be accompanied by a PowerPoint or similar slide presentation to either set lesson objectives or lead the pupils and teacher through the lesson.
“Students are already interested, engaged and familiar with using technology” www.webanywhere.co.uk
webanywhere.co.uk is an online technology provider, it provides resources, apps and programs for schools and businesses.
It has found that the Top 6 benefits of using technology in the classroom are:
-Students can learn useful life skills through technology
-Benefits for teachers
-Improves knowledge retention
-Encourages individual learning
The use of vocal PowerPoints will support individual learning on a platform which is familiar and accessible to learners, it will allow for better knowledge retention which appeals to visual/auditory learners. It will also encourage individual learning at the learner’s own speed, it will also promote differentiation by allowing pupils to review difficult concepts or even to skip ahead.
www.webanywhere.co.uk states that, “No one learns in the same way because of different learning styles and different abilities. Technology provides great opportunities for making learning more effective for everyone with different needs. For example, students can learn at their own speed, review difficult concepts or skip ahead if they need to. What is more, technology can provide more opportunities for struggling or disabled students. Access to the Internet gives students access to a broad range of resources to conduct research in different ways, which in turn can increase the engagement.”
Deakin University is an International University, it promotes the use of audio visual or educational purposes as a tool to extend learning:
“Providing rich, interactive multimedia is a key feature of cloud learning at Deakin. It enables students to access resources that support learning wherever they are; without the need to attend a specific location at a defined time. The use of audio and video also makes it possible to present knowledge in different ways and enables different forms of interaction with learners. Utilizing audio and video to support learning is now more accessible than ever, especially for learners’ off-campus, with 9 out of 10 staff and students at Deakin saying they have high-speed and reliable Internet access at home (Oliver et al. 2012).”
I trialed this with pupils in my Year 11 BTEC Sport class during Term 4. The ability level of the class is at a UNGRADED to MERIT level. There are 12 pupils in this mixed-gender class.
Method: Two separate lessons were taught, both were taught using PowerPoint, one without a PowerPoint voice-over and one had a PowerPoint voice-over. The pupil outcomes were then reviewed.
- Describe the rules of two selected sports as a poster which may be used in a sports centre or school to help children understand the rules of the sport. (PASS LEVEL)
- For your two sports, produce a poster for each highlighting one rule recommendation/improvement which you would make to the sports to improve them. You will need to explain why you think they should make a change and any negative effects these changes might have on the sport. (MERIT LEVEL)
Pupils were set the task of completing the poster for at least one of their sports during the lesson, they had to complete the other poster at home. If they were able to, they were to move onto the 2nd objective. Pupils were provided with the PowerPoint from the lesson (WITHOUT VOICE-OVER) and an example piece of work as a model (this was provided electronically).
- Describe the regulations of two selected sports as a poster which may be used in a sports centre or school to help children understand the regulations of the sport. (PASS LEVEL)
- For your 2 sports and produce a poster for each highlighting one regulation recommendation/improvement which you would make to the sports to improve them. You will need to explain why you think they should change and any negative effects these changes might have on the sport. (MERIT LEVEL)
Pupils were set the task of completing the poster for at least one of their chosen sports during the lesson, they then had to complete the other poster at home. If they were able to, they were to move onto the 2nd objective. Pupils were provided with the PowerPoint from the lesson (WITH VOICE-OVER), and an example piece of work (this was provided electronically).
Comparison of the two different PowerPoints
Both lesson objectives were very similar, the difficulty level of the work set was the same, therefore the expectations of completed work by individuals should be the same. Pupils were made aware of the voice-over provided with the second PowerPoint. Two pupils who do not have access to PowerPoint at home so both were offered the opportunity to complete the work after school on both occasions.
The results table shows that there was an improved performance both in the number of pupils who achieved a PASS level and above and in the number of pupils who achieved a MERIT level in their work.
|Grade following lesson||Lesson1 without voiceover PowerPoint tool||Lesson2 with voiceover PowerPoint tool|
I feel that the concept and idea of Audio PowerPoint is good and that it is an opportunity to develop independent learning further. It is clearly a tool which can support learning outside of school and make the transition between classwork and homework easier for pupils. There are however pros and cons.
- The potential benefits for revision at Key Stage 4 are clear, as are the opportunities to promote greater differentiation for learners.
- Pupils have the opportunity to work at their own pace and review key discussions that arose in class.
- Results from the trial indicate that pupils were able to work towards a higher level with this learning aide.
- This approach makes learning more accessible outside of school and can be re-used/re-visited.
- It will improve pupils’ processing of their learning.
- Producing the voice-overs is a time-consuming task which all teachers may not have the time to complete. However this is the sort of tool once completed, will benefit all learners within that scheme of work.
- PowerPoint is only available on APPLE products if the program is purchased. This restricts access for some users.
- The teacher is focusing on the technology rather than audience.
In the long run my main concern with PowerPoint focused learning is that it could become stagnant and boring, lesson pace can be affected as the teacher dwells on slides. The slides can often become the provider of information rather than being a prompt for learning.
Providing audio PowerPoints will allow the learner to navigate to an area of focus from within the lesson while having both the information and ‘teaching’ from the teacher available to them. This is clearly a tool which can be used to enhance independent learning and learning away from the school.
Featured image: ‘Ear’ by Geralt on Pixabay. Licensed under Creative Commons CC0