As the Ocean Institute Podcast Program continues to build, future research will likely lend towards implementing such a program into other subject matters taught at the Ocean Institute and other informal education centers. The next step will be to address the Social Science and History programs offered at the Ocean Institute. Once the pilot program is completed and all assessments have been analyzed, it is expected that by next fall, a Social Science program may begin developing. Other potential directions may include partnering with the Orange County Performing Arts Center, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, various art museums, other natural history museums and San Diego high schools to disseminate the program and assist in developing similar programs statewide.
In an era when teachers try to justify field trips, developing a program that that requires both field trip preparation and post field trip assignments in the classroom provides students the opportunity to retain more information from the field trip, and can be found more beneficial. The Ocean Institute Podcast Program provides a structured program addressing these concepts providing teachers with an alternative to developing their own lesson plans to capture the same academic success.
Multimedia is another motivational tool used in the classroom; podcasts have become a popular multimedia format over the past few years and used my various organizations including museums and schools. Many museums offer professionally produced podcasts as a directional guide as visitors travel through the museum experiencing what the museum has to offer. In schools, many teachers provide their lectures in the form of podcasts, while other teachers help students develop podcasts instead of speeches or book reports.
This project is unique in that all it will combine the critical elements provided by museum and school podcasts. Many informal educational facilities such as the Ocean Institute pride themselves in what they have to offer students; however, the general visitor does not have the opportunity to experience the same programs students complete nor do they understand the impact these facilities have on local students. This program will generate a platform for the general public to experience the same programs as students; while at the same time, showcases the work of the students on a world wide scale since the podcasts would be downloadable on iTunes as well as the Ocean Institute’s website.
The Ocean Institute seeked to develop a model for integrating technology effectively into the classroom. Teachers desperately need assistance in how to integrate technology into the classroom, while students need to be continuously challenged and motivated in the classroom. Podcasts speak the language of the students, and with structure and direction, this popular technology can be a huge asset to both students and teachers. Technology fluency, mentoring skills and leadership qualities are traits that will help students succeed in high school, college, and the workplace. These traits were developed with the podcast program. The five-year vision would showcase a large digital library of archived podcasts created by students that can be used as a valuable resource for students in the future.
The Ocean Institute hosts 90,000 students and 40,000 public visitors per year with certain expected outcomes:
1) Best Buy, Ocean Institute, and Orange County high schools will establish a successful and ongoing working partnership.
2) 1,200 middle and high school students will produce educational podcasts for the general public.
3) 90,000 students’ experience at the Ocean Institute will be enhanced with use of podcasts on field trips.
4) 40,000 public visitors will be educated by student-produced podcasts at the Ocean Institute.
5) Teachers will be more comfortable with using new technology in their classrooms.
6) Teachers and students will have access to Ocean Institute podcasts to enhance classroom curriculum.
Ultimately, some of the biggest roadblocks teachers face in today’s classroom includes budget constraints, motivating students, and integrating students. The hope is that the Ocean Institute Podcast Program has been developed in a manner that would eliminate these roadblocks and provide both students and teachers with a program that they could build on.
Although the data analysis is limited at this point, the assumption is that the primitive data collected is a reflection of continued feedback. Some of the key data identified is the enormous improvement of results from pre-test to post-test. Although this data is positive and believed to be a true reflection of academic growth through the program; the addition of data collected by standardized testing can potentially confirm the success of students who participate in the program. The student surveys confirmed the program’s success in providing motivation for students through hands-on activities and exotic animals. An unforeseen result was the opportunity for students to see the ocean for the first time. The podcasts produced also accomplished their objective as Ocean Institute visitors welcomed them and found them both educational and critical to the overall experience of the exhibits. This feedback is a reflection that the students not only understood the information they learned but were capable of producing podcasts that could be appreciated by their peers and adults. Although the teachers have not been formally surveyed, unofficially, many of the teachers have made comments about both the delivery method as well as instructional design. The feedback concerning the delivery has been positive; by presenting the information via a website, teachers have encouraged their students to study the program at home as well as in the classroom. Teachers have also been in favor of the instructional design; many teachers feel that the content allows the teachers to perform as a facilitator rather than an actual teacher, which has placed less pressure on them and has required less prep time. Other teachers have commented that the program provides enough flexibility for pro-active teachers to modify components where they feel necessary to accommodate their class. The biggest concern expressed by many of the teachers was how the program addressed state standards. This concern was confronted throughout the instructional design process and has impacted the classes selected to participate in the program; is should be also noted that by modifying the field trip component, this program can fit any set of state standards desired.
When integrating technology into curriculum, especially when curriculum is presented by the aide of technology, it is important that the technology enhances the program rather than distracts from the lesson plans. The OIPP website, consisted of online flash videos, graphic animations, downloadable PDF files, and online testing. To formally evaluate the delivery, the C.R.A.P. method by Williams and Tollet was used to assess the OIPP website:
Contrast: The blue colors used throughout the site represented the marine theme of the program; the darker blues were used to enhance the lighter blue text. Fellow Master’s student, Scott Bania understood the concept and had this comment, “The site itself has a great “look and feel” and reflects the theme of oceanography.” Against the dark background, the links were easily identified with the color red or white; the left navigation bar used red dotted lines to highlight the links while the top navigation bar used a white rollover font; red font was used for links buried in the content of the page. Large red font was also used to aide in identifying the title of each page. The header was also very distinguishable with the black background which complemented the blue background within the content area; the black background also allowed the colorful OIPP logo to standout in the header.
Repetition: The clarity and similarity between pages was very consistent. The location of navigation buttons remained consistent while content was always located in the center of each page. The layout of the online curriculum was also similar to the PDF downloadable versions of the curriculum. Flash tutorials also remained consistent and allowed students to navigate through the site ensuring they did not miss any vital information.
Alignment: Navigation bars were placed on the left and top of the screen and were clearly identified by rollover images. The pages that included a video tutorial were well balanced with content text located beneath the video; this avoided distractions for the students at they watched the tutorials. All content was centered whenever possible; some pages such as the podcast sample page were a bit obscure in alignment due to the unbalanced content to be shared on the page.
Proximity: The layout provided enough separation between navigation, text, and video tutorials to place an emphasis on all aspects without being overwhelming to the viewer. Navigation buttons were clearly identifiable and easy to click. Content, whether video or text, were centered and emphasized by being towards the top of the site.
Aspects not addressed within C.R.A.P. included graphic design, flash animations and other aesthetics that contributed to the site looking very professional. The flash design used in the introduction helped to build anticipation and set the theme for the technology rich program. The music selected also maintained a technology feel and was designed for the middle school and high school audience. The graphic design throughout the site was limited so that it would not conflict with the educational components to the site. The only true graphic design was represented within the logo design; the design was integration between iPods and the Ocean Institute Podcast Program. Other aesthetics included rollover images and text as well as appropriately designed video tutorials.
Even more important than the professionalism of the site is the functionality of the site. To evaluate this site, a formal web usability analysis as described by Jacob Neilson was performed. The first element addressed was the flash intro; the advantage of using the flash was to present a professionally designed site, however flash intros can take a long time to load and flash players must be downloaded onto your computer. Ultimately, the target audience for this site all had high powered computers with broadband Internet connection, thus eliminating common disadvantages related to flash intros. To enter the site, a red label on the top of the screen was easily identifiable. On the main site, all navigation buttons were easily located and enhanced with the rollover images. The text of the navigation buttons were also clear and concise and provided specific directions for the viewer. The content provided throughout the site also aided in navigation through the site as to ensure that all necessary content was provided to the students. Fellow Master’s student, Jeannine Taylor had this to say about the navigation and layout of the site, “It was very easy to navigate through and it was very clear what was expected of the learner… The bells and whistles are definitely there, but they are not on every page, just where they are needed for introductory and instructional purposes.” With the aide of C.R.A.P. and Jacob Neilson’s web usability, this site was designed successfully.
The program was divided into three components: professional development, field trip and podcast production. As stated earlier, the professional development component is a tangent of the main focus of this report and will not be addressed. Although the evaluation process is in its early stages, the assessment tools have produced some beneficial results. Thus far, 100 students from three different high schools and one middle school have participated in the Ocean Institute Program. Most students have not completed their podcasts at this stage; however a handful of accelerated students have successfully completed their podcasts and submitted the post-test and survey.
The first evaluation was to establish students’ knowledge of the topics addressed on the field trip. The pre-tests submitted reflected a general knowledge of the topics addressed on the field trip. The average grade of the pre-test was a 72%. 5% of the students scored a 100% on the test; while 54% scored a 50% or less. The post-test, although not completed by all students at this point, have shown significant improvement in academic knowledge. The average increased 24%, while the lowest score was 69%. Refer to table 1 to compare the results of the pre-tests and post-tests.
The evaluation process continued by analyzing the student surveys submitted; at this point in time, only 22% of the surveys have been completed. From the surveys it was determined that 80% of the students had never been to the Ocean Institute; there were 2 students who had never seen the ocean. The survey revealed a number of positive remarks:
- “I loved the hands-on activities and all the fish.”
- “It was nice to learn outside of the classroom.”
- “It was cool to take so many pictures and video of the field trip.”
- “It was the first time I have seen the ocean.”
- “I wish the field trip was longer.”
- “Making a podcast for school was meaningful.”
- “I make tons of videos, doing one for school was cool.”
- “I hope my podcast gets the most downloads.”
- “I learned a lot about podcasting and marine science.”
- “I downloaded all of my friends’ podcasts to my iPod.”
The evaluation process also included surveys completed by Ocean Institute visitors who used the podcast while visiting; 90% of the surveys were completed by Ocean Institute members. The survey revealed that the average visitor listened to 7 podcasts; however, visitors ranged from 1 to 13 podcasts. 85% of the visitors felt the podcasts enhanced the exhibits and made the trip to the Ocean Institute more educational and memorable. Some of the valuable comments received included:
- “I have always enjoyed how the Ocean Institute showcases students’ work; these podcasts were another example of the impact OI has on children.”
- “I have been to the Ocean Institute numerous times, however, I learned more on this visit than all the other visits combined.”
- “I have used podcasts at other museums, and although they are more professionally produced, I felt having students producing podcasts from their own experiences was very special.”
- “Some of the podcasts were outstanding; did not listen to the longer podcasts.
- “These students should be proud of what they have developed.”
- “I had never been to the Ocean Institute; the podcasts really helped me understand what happens at the facility.”
Although an initial evaluation has been completed by the student tests and surveys, and the Ocean Institute visitor surveys; there has been no formal feedback at this point in time from the teacher surveys. From what has been observed, many of the uncertainties teachers had were addressed during professional development; there has also been constant support provided during the podcast production process for teachers who felt they needed it.
Being a unique program with few models to follow, the most difficult aspect of the program was to determine how to assess the success of the program. This assessment was critical to attract participating schools, grant funding, and to measure the overall success of the development of the program. The foundation of the evaluation was based on measuring the proposed objectives; the objectives were divided into two categories: program objectives and student objectives. The program objectives included:
- Develop a working partnership between Ocean Institute, Orange County high schools, Apple, and Best Buy.
- Enhance classroom curriculum by bringing subject matter experts into the classroom via podcasts.
- Integrate technology into the established curriculum for students to develop podcasts based on lesson plans.
- Design an instructional and motivational platform for students to showcase their conceptual understanding of various subject matters.
- Provide professional development for teachers on the advantages of using podcasting and other technology in their classrooms.
The student objectives included:
- Research books and field guides to collect the necessary information.
- Organize the information they have collected in a way that can be developed into an educational lecture.
- Educate their peers on the skates and rays.
- Recognize the differences within aquaria.
- Use field guides to identify various species.
- Complete population counts and assess biodiversity.
- Identify keystone species and the importance of the species.
- Relate the pollution the biological integrity of the aquaria.
- Communicate their findings to their peers.
- Efficiently research on the internet to collect required data.
- Participate in an open discussion regarding problems and solutions to estuaries.
- Collect and organize digital video footage and images depicting their work.
- Edit all digital data.
- Create an mp4 file with digital data.
- Write an instructional script to teach a lesson plan.
- Record a voice file and integrate it into mp4 file to match with visual content.
- Use their creativity to design and produce an instructional podcast to be used by their peers at the Ocean Institute exhibits.
Measuring many of the student objectives were difficult due to the lack of quantitative results. Measuring the student objects were completed by monitoring their milestone accomplishments and assessing their final podcast production; to create a unified measuring tool, an assessment guide was created for teachers to evaluate the students’ progress. Another tool designed to assess the student objectives included a comparison analysis between student pre-tests and post-test results to measure a student’s academic growth. To continue to improve the motivational and content components, students were also distributed student surveys to complete; the surveys that have been completed have been analyzed. Once a greater number of surveys are returned, revisions to the program may be deemed necessary. The final analysis will be to compare state standardized testing results of those students who participated in the program to those who did not; this is a critical assessment in terms of receiving future funding, however due to the time constraints, this analysis has not been completed.
To successfully evaluate the first two objectives, they will need to be redefined with quantitative elements; these original program objectives were broad as a result of an experimental program with no model to follow. As the pilot program comes to an end, the results of the teacher surveys and visitor surveys will assist in providing a foundation to better redefine the objectives. Objectives that will require redefining include grant funding needs; this can be better determined once an accurate assessment of cost per class has been completed. Another objective that requires redefining is the desired number of participating schools both in short term and long term; there are a number of components that will influence this objective including the Ocean Institute’s ability to accommodate schools throughout the program, professional development needs, and budget needs for both schools and the Ocean Institute. Finally, the professional development seminars contain their own set of objectives, but will not be addressed within this report to prevent tangents.
It should be noted that the each of the evaluations noted above will be an ongoing and continuing process to ensure the program is of the highest quality. Continuing assessments are also critical due to the frequent updates and changes in technology which will need to be addressed when it becomes an identified issue; the hope is that the surveys will address such issues.
A project of this scope has provided and will continue to provide students of all demographics the opportunity to take advantage of using the newest technology in learning. In this era of technology, the desire to integrate technology into learning curriculum is at an all-time high. Both private and government foundations are eager to financially support programs that provide students with the opportunity to use and learn with technology. With the diversity of the students in Southern California, the program provided enough flexibility for students to express their creativity by choosing to create the podcast in Spanish if they desired.
The Ocean Institute Podcast Program was designed with a combination of learning theories, behaviorism, constructivist, and multiple intelligences, as the foundation. The OIPP consisted of five elements to successfully make learning motivational and the produced podcasts useful: professional development for the teachers, the student field trip, the student research, and the podcast production process. With the aid of the online content and resources, this program combined the flexibility and creativity within each class with the structure and guidance necessary to produce the expected results and achieve the program and student objectives. A project of this scope has provided and will continue to provide students of all demographics the opportunity to take advantage of using the newest technology in learning.