kids watching movie in classroom

Visual Media in the Classroom

Visual media in the classroom should not be a replacement for hands-on learning or teachers by any means but that doesn’t mean they can’t serve a purpose to the classroom. While a number of people would disagree with me, and sometimes for good reasons, we know for a fact that the average person is a visual learner – we learn quicker through imagery and sound than we do through traditional methods like reading. For example, I think it’s still important to have students read books for a literature class, but this question had me wondering if teachers should show movie adaptations of those books afterward? When you bring this idea up, the first thing parents ask is whether or not it defeats the purpose of reading the book if kids could just skip it and watch the movie? I think, as with most things a balance has to be struck but videos and visual media are as important as books if we want kids to actually absorb what they have learned.

When I was in school, I remember we watched a lot of videos in place of class time, and I looked forward to those times, because watching a movie was the fastest way to pass the time in class. And to make it better, the average class time is 45 minutes, so most of the time we would have to take 2-3 classes to watch the whole movie. Now that I’m older, I realize that not only did it feel like we were passing time, but we actually learned a lot that I still remember to this day, because I learned it visually and without any stress or pressure to learn. I think a lot of us might remember watching episodes of The Magic School Bus or Bill Nye the Science Guy in science class. My parents remember Reading Rainbow and Electric Company. The school I went to had 1st through 3rd-grade classes watched quite a bit of Veggie Tales as well. I believe the movies and shows we watched provided equal educational value to the books we read and instruction we received. I’ve come to find, the less stressful the situation, the easier it is to absorb and learn. Visual media makes the learning environment less stressful, in my opinion, making it easier for today’s students to absorb information.

To make visual media effective, however, there should be reflective discussion and follow-up work after the movie or show is over. One example is when my English class was watching the movie Glory which is a movie that highlights the contributions and struggles of black soldiers who fought for the North during the Civil War. The teacher had us taking notes during the movie, so that we could complete an assignment around the civil war and how people used the English language to express themselves compared to today. In that experience, I feel we all learned a little more about the civil war, about the contributions of black soldiers in the North, and the differences between how we used language then compared to today.

After doing a little research I’ve come across innovative teachers doing all kinds of things with visual media that deserve recognition. Some use Youtube videos from trusted sources, others use online content from places like NatGeo and NASA. Visual media, like technology, experiments, etc. enhance the classroom experience and help foster engagement from my experiences.

What do you think about showing visual media to the classroom? Should we limit its use, or is there more to youtube videos and other visual media that we can show to enhance the classroom experience? For parents at home, do you use visual media to extend learning?

About the Author
Emma Majewski

Emma Majewski

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