1. Interacting with learning materials
Digital media useful for the exploration and description of topics includes a range of applications. One of the most useful and ubiquitous media for exploration is the World Wide Web. The web has an almost endless scope of topics and materials, some of which may be high quality. The continued improvement in the quality of CD-ROM reference materials and educational applications make them good sources for educational content. Using digital input devices such as probe ware or digital microscopes allows students to explore their world and input information for further analysis. Using a digital camera to record images of their work provides yet another source of material that can be incorporated. Documenting exploration of the WWW is easily accomplished through the use of bookmarks. Taking screen shots of CD-ROM can document their use, and the use of images from the probe ware and microscopes provide documentation of the exploration engaged in by students.
2. Developing an understanding
As students review information in order to develop an understanding, the use of programs such as Inspiration and Kidspiration can assist students in creating concept maps. Word processing programs provide students with the tools to author a narrative regarding their topic of study. For those who have difficulty using a keyboard, input can be accomplished with the use of digital audio or even the use of digital video to document discussions, scenarios, or simulations.
3. Creating representations of understanding
Digital media are ideally structured to design representations of understanding for students ranging widely in age. Depending on the topic being studied and the media that is utilized, students may want to use a word processing program to create a brochure or other document containing text and images. Moving up a level, students could create an interactive hypermedia presentation using Powerpoint, HyperStudio, or MediaBlender that allows the students to present their work and include almost any manner of digital audio, video, images or even animation. Even the use of a simple slide show can effectively tell a learning story. The use of claymation through a program such as VideoBlender provides a unique and exciting means for students to portray their ideas. The use of digital movies can be a particularly compelling medium for communicating ideas and documenting the process of constructing that understanding. One further means of sharing ideas that is becoming increasingly popular is the construction of a Webpage or website. Websites can contain most of the media mentioned above, and can reach a far wider audience.