Monday, October 12, 2009

Week 3: Ron Smith Interview Interactive Q&As

  What does Ron Smith do at the New Media Academy at Hollywood High School?

Ron Smith is the lead teacher at the New Media Academy at North Hollywood High School in Hollywood, California.  The academy exposes students to acting, directing, screenwriting and the technical arts.  Several entertainment groups, including Universal Studios, the Screen Actor’s Guild, the Director’s Guild and the Writer’s Guild, support the school.

2.     What types of New Media does Ron Smith see students gravitating toward?

Ron sees a lot of students liking Flash Animation and Animation for website development and video purposes.   Flash Animation is created using Adobe Flash animation software.  Other types of animation include cel-animation, cut-out animation and three dimensional animation.

3.     Why does Ron think students are gravitating toward these types of New Media?

Ron feels that this technology is one of the more popular formats in which students can express themselves creatively.  He feels that there is a bit of a struggle though between getting students started on the hard work involved in creating and finishing an animation project though.

4.     What types of materials does Ron Smith use in his classroom to engage his students?

Ron uses a wide array of different materials in his classroom, both fair and unfair use.   Examples include: movies, sound, websites, even dancing around the room.  Ron tries to get the students interested in whatever is happening in the classroom at that time.  He tries to integrate whatever technology he can into his classroom.

5.     What were some of the early technologies that Ron used in his classroom?

Some of the early technologies that Ron used were podcasts, text messaging and video content creation.  He noted that not all technologies were equally received by the students.  Some students showed greater interest in some technologies while other students showed interest in other ones. 

6.     What are teachers doing in class compared to what their students want to do? 

Ron feels that teachers are behind the technology that students are currently using.  The best example that Ron uses is teachers being fascinated with projecting Power Point and Word documents up on a display in front of the class to pass the rubric.  Students, on the other hand, use several social networking and Web 2.0 technologies, including Facebook, Myspace, Youtube and Blogger.

7.     How does Ron think we can bridge the technological gap between the two groups?

It involves showing the teachers the benefits of using more sophisticated technologies in the student and being able to relate to students on their level.  Technologies that were prevalent and popular in the late 80’s are now deemed archaic and do not reach today’s student.

8.     What does Ron mean by the following statement: Digital Teaching is “Front Loaded”?

The term “front loaded” refers to doing the main amount of work on a project lesson at the beginning before students begin learning about it.  Ron says that a lot of today’s teachers go about education in a linear fashion, creating lesson plans at day and weeks at a time, instead of terms and years at a time.

9.     What are some of the applications that students are getting excited about, both in and out of the classroom?

Ron mentions three specific applications in his interview with Dr. Ludgate: Scratch, Sketch-Up and Blender.

1     What does the MIT application “Scratch” do?

Scratch is an open source, visual programming language that lets students create videos, games and music.

11   What assignment did Ron give his students to complete in the application “Sketch-Up”?

For one of his classes, Ron had students create an entire city block of the Ninth Ward of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina had destroyed it.  Details were very specific in this project, including buildings, topical features and roads.

12   What is one of the interesting features that you can do in the application called “Sketch-Up”?

Students can import Google Map and Google Earth files into Sketch-Up as backgrounds and build upon the files as a source of context and background.

13   What are the differences between the two animation applications named “Maya” & “Blender”?

Both are three dimensional animation software applications.  However, Blender is free open source software that is available to anyone.  Maya is also animation software, but the platform itself costs $3,495. 

14   What is Ron’s approach to giving students instructions on the applications that he described in the interview with Dr. Ludgate?

Ron gives his students the tools they need to create new types of media, but he does not give them specific instructions on what to create or how to use the application software packages. 

15   What are some developing trends that Ron Smith is starting to see in Education?

Some of the biggest trends that Ron has noticed are the concepts of instructional design for education and implementation of online classes for several subjects in all grades of pedagogy. 

16   How do you adapt and develop basic courses such as Mathematics and English into more media-rich experiences that are more beneficial for students?

In order to make these courses and lessons more beneficial to students, teachers have to invest more time in making them interesting, providing other material assets into the lesson plans, including everything from interactive games and songs about the lesson to videos and online chat rooms for students to share their experiences.  Once teachers understand that the technology will help them and not replace them, they will be able to reach more students and be more successful in the classroom.

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