Science Education Today and Tomorrow
August 2008

Science Education Today and Tomorrow

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Science today is taught in an abstract manner in most schools across India, primarily using the Rote method of instruction and to a certain extent Apply and Understand method of instruction (Anderson's Taxonomy), which essentially are lower order learning skills. From cognitive research done around the world, it is found that the rote method assimilating knowledge is actually counterproductive to learning.

When we look closely at the human learning pattern, we humans learn by relating to different things and events with respect to what is being learnt. Putting it simply, learning the unknown happens with relation to the known. The learning process is further strengthened by reinforcement. Furthermore from the theory of Multiple Intelligence in Education, traditionally schools have emphasized the development of logical intelligence and linguistic intelligence (mainly reading and writing). While many students function well in this environment, there are those who do not. Gardner's theory argues that students will be better served by a broader vision of education, wherein teachers use different methodologies, exercises and activities to reach all students, not just those who excel at linguistic and logical intelligence.

The process of relating to from familiar concepts/events/things and reinforcement actually helps in effective learning. Science should be taught as something which is very much part of everyday life, for e.g., like showing the child the science involved in pulling water out of a well, or every day examples about the levers etc. This aspect was found to be critical in learning the fundamentals of science, and this would lead the child to start thinking more analytically. Further, an essential part of learning science comes from experimentation, which enables the learner to actually comprehend what he has learnt earlier in a clear and precise manner.

Coming from the above, the use of multimedia resources in teaching science would actually overcome the abstractness of science teaching to learners. This would inculcate in the learner development of their higher order learning skills. In fact, Educational research has shown that information should be encoded both visually and auditory. When learning with multimedia, the brain must simultaneously encode two different types of information, namely an auditory stimulus and a visual stimulus. One might expect these competing sources of information to tend to overwhelm or overload the learner. This perhaps would be the case, if it were not for how working memory works. Baddeley and Hitch (1974) suggested working memory has two somewhat independent subcomponents that tend to work in parallel. This allows us to simultaneously process information coming from our eyes and ears. Thus a learner is not necessarily overwhelmed or overloaded by multimodal instruction.

In studies undertaken by Mayer and his colleagues testing Paivio's Dual Coding Theory, along with multimedia, they repeatedly found that students given multimedia with animation and narration did consistently better on transfer questions than those who learnt from animation and text-based materials. That is, they were significantly better when it came to applying what they had learned after receiving multimedia rather than mono-media (visual only) instruction. These results were later confirmed by other groups of researchers.

Everonn's products today are making Education more meaningful using multimedia as a Teaching aid, thereby providing learners with a wholesome learning experience (developing both lower and higher order learning skills). Features of Everonn's products (www.classontheweb.com, i-Schools, vSchool etc) can easily be mapped to the Cognitive Taxonomy Circle diagram. 

Currently the Creative Head at Everonn Systems India Ltd., Tangirala Vishal is a graduate in Engineering from Chaitanya Bharati Institute of Technology, Osmania University. He started his career path as a graphic designer, and moved on to become Research Engineer in International Institute of Information Technology in 2002. At the Institute, he got various opportunities to design interactive multimedia modules on Mathematics and Science. He further moved on to start his own firm 'Kriative Media' where he has executed many noteworthy projects for major corporate like Krebs Biochemicals, Ferro Grenn Technologies, Banaras Beads Ltd, Poovaya & Co.

In 2007, he joined Everonn Systems India Limited as its Creative Head. A major contributor to various creative endeavours at Everonn, Vishal heads the animation team responsible for developing multimedia content as well as research on multimedia content development. Vishal has co-authored various books and also presented papers on using multimedia as a tool to impart school education.

 

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