Multi Media & Microworlds
in Teaching the Humanities

Beverley Crane
Methodist Ladies’ College
207 Barkers Road, Kew. Melbourne, Australia
tel:61 3 92746458
fax: 61 3 9819 2345
email:
cranebj@mlckew.edu.au

Abstract

Teaching Humanities subjects using the version of Microworlds2 for Win95 with all its Multimedia capabilities is an exciting step forward. All our students from grade 5 (10 yr. olds), to grade 8 (14 yr. olds), have their own laptop computers, the majority with multimedia capabilities. Microworlds is used as the main software tool across a variety of subject areas, English, French, History Geography as well as Mathematics and Science.

Keywords

Microworlds, humanities teaching, subject integration, multimedia

1 Presentation; Multimedia Microworlds in Humanities Teaching

The Laptop Program began in our school 7 years ago and now all students are required to have their own windows based Laptop computer. The 1997 version comes with a soundcard and optional CD Rom. Microworlds is used as the main software tool across a variety of subject areas, in the Junior Secondary School (grades 7 & 8), in English, French, History Geography as well as Mathematics and Science. With the release of the multimedia windows version of Microworlds, our students can now fully create their own multimedia projects within a logo environment.

Our Humanities course at grade 7 integrates the studies of English, Geography, History and Biblical Studies, taught by a team of two teachers. Microworlds is used as the presentation tool to develop students’ ideas and organise their learning.

2 Projects include

The new version of microworlds with the multimedia tools is extenting the scope of these projects and allowing for greater individual or group creativity. When designing learning experiences, the ideas of Howard Gardner, and Multiple Intelligences are utilised to give a variety of ways of approaching how students’ learn and how they present their learning. Microworlds is an ideal way of allowing a variety of approaches and responses to a particular question or learning project. Interviews can be recorded, using a video or a tape recorder, family pictures can be scanned an added to projects or voice-overs recorded to explain their simulations or projects. Projects can now be saved in HTML format and added to our school’s home pages giving a much wider audience to the students’ learning projects.

In 1996 the school restructured its timetable to allow longer learning blocks within the school day, 75 minutes for each session, 4 sessions a day. This was particularly a response to the change in how students’ were learning when using computers as their personal "learning tool" in the classroom and the acknowledged need for longer blocks of time for the meaningful completion of tasks.

In the higher grades Asymetrix Multimedia Toolbook11 is used. This was available in a multimedia platform much earlier for windows based users. Toolbook seems to form a natural progression from Microworlds, and is used specifically in music and within the Information Technology department, as well as across many subjects for presentations or particular projects.

I would like to show the projects our students are creating and discuss the learning philosophy behind our curriculum approach.