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What Young Learners Expect, and How Technology Delivers

EducationWorld is pleased to present this article by Pat LeMay Burr, Ph.D., digital media professor and Distinguished Chair at University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio. In this piece, Dr. Burr describes an online lesson-creation tool that helps meet many of the classroom expectations of today's tech-savvy students.

The article originally appeared in TechEdge, a quarterly magazine published by Naylor LLC for Texas Computer Education Association members. To join or for more information, visit

Global thought leaders marked the 10th anniversary of the NMC (New Media Consortium) Horizon Project by identifying 28 metatrends that will likely define the role of technology in teaching and learning during the next decade.

The Top Metatrends and Young Learners

Six of the top metatrends young learners might embrace to integrate technology into the learning process suggest that:

  1. Young learners are increasingly connected, both globally and collaboratively, covering continents, time zones and cultures.
  2. They will learn, socialize and play whenever and wherever they wish.
  3. They will also increasingly work in the cloud, using online videos and rich media.
  4. Young learners expect open content and easy access to information.
  5. They expect more informal teaching and learning to address their individual learning needs that exist outside the classroom.
  6. And they naturally assume that teachers will re-imagine the learning process to deliver what they want.

Expectations and Solutions

The metatrends chart below identifies a few tried-and-true solutions to address young learners' expectations.

Young Learners' Expectation Classroom Solution
1.  Collaboration

LiveMinutes - Online discussion

Audacity - Interviews

2.  Anywhere/anytime access

CamStudio - Screen capture for asynchronous replay on demand

3.  Cloud access

UStream - Video capture

DropBox - File sharing

4.  Easy access to everything Twitter - Hashtags for immediate access to source material
5.  Informality Email, logs, iAnnotate
6.  Re-imagination of entire teaching/learning dynamic ShowMe - Re-imagines and enriches metatrends 1-5

One new solution—ShowMe—that responds to “re-imagining the learning process” is different, however. This tool reaches across the first five metatrends in a dramatic way.

ShowMe is an open, online learning community that allows teachers to create lessons, explanations and tutorials at any time and on almost any topic. Examples of teachers’ existing creations posted for public use suggest the endless possibilities for re-imagining the teaching and learning process. See the directory of video categories for tutorials already produced (almost always by teachers), and use the “create” directory for creating your own.

Learning with

For example, explore the section dedicated to simple arithmetic with subtopics covering addition, subtraction, division, multiplication, percent, common factors, common multiples, decimals, common divisors, fractions, base 10 numbers, integers and place value. In the multiplication section, you can see thumbnail sketches of the possible video of varying length, quality, and complexity.

Or, check out an illustration of a short “multiplication array” tutorial by Kenny D. (a chosen pen name). Click on the video to watch his evolving numerical drawing and to hear the synched audio portion that explains his drawings. Click on his name, and you see the option to subscribe to his library of demonstrations. You will also see a URL to embed so students can click on a link from your own blog in order to reach Kenny D.’s explanation, if you decide to refer your students to his video.

This site belongs to Anthony DiLaura, a recent “featured” author at ShowMe. His “midpoint of a segment” video demonstrates the use of colors offered by ShowMe. Note how he uses the colors to make different points on different parts of the screen for young learners.

Useful videos may be used in class as a part of the re-imagination process, and they may be emailed to parents and children for repeated viewing after classroom discussion.

Creating and Teaching with the iPad Showme App

While you can create ShowMe videos with a laptop and mouse, a better combination is to learn with the laptop and create with the iPad. A good stylus, combined with the ShowMe iPad app, leads to a winning production combination.

And as good as some of the existing ShowMe videos might be, the exciting opportunity for teachers is to re-imagine the teaching/learning process by creating new and original videos that very specifically address the individual classroom. Turn your iPad into a personal interactive whiteboard by downloading the free ShowMe Interactive Whiteboard app (from the iTunes store). Read the app description at the ShowMe download site to better understand its valuable features and operating protocol.

When the app opens on your iPad, touch the large + (plus sign) inside the dashed rectangle to create a new ShowMe video. See a color tray at the top where a stylus can capture various colors, an eraser icon, and a large sponge icon on the far right for completely clearing the white board.

One of ShowMe’s most advanced features is the icon located between the erasure and the sponge—a cloud icon. Touch that cloud and you will see options to either take a photo with your iPad2, import a photo from your existing photo files, or search for images to import from the Internet. A search for a “normal curve” to explain a statistical concept saves you drawing one, and the imported image will likely be much more professional than your own drawing.

The search results will present options, and you touch the one you want to import. The import is immediate. The red button on the upper right of the iPad screen is the “record” button, and after one tap, it starts right up. Talk while you draw to make important points, and the completed video syncs audio and video into a seamless production that you name, save, make available to the public, keep private, or email to students.

Steps to Professionalize the Re-Imaging Tutorial

As you watch several of the existing video tutorials available to the public, it will become clear that key aspects of the production process are critical to creating a video from which young learners can benefit at the highest level.

  1. Speak clearly.
  2. Speak slowly.
  3. Use color to segment clusters of key points on respective topics.
  4. Import and use professional images when appropriate.
  5. Be neat while making notes around an image.
  6. Be orderly in the explanation process by using such comments as, “There are three main points we will make in this tutorial. They are …”
  7. Identify which number of the three points you are explaining as you move through the audio portion of the production process.
  8. Summarize what you have covered when you reach the end of the tutorial.
  9. Aim for short, three-minute maximum videos.
  10. Use a professional voice to convey respect for the topic and the young learners.

Re-Imagination Applications of ShowMe

Various ways in which you can use the ShowMe tutorial include:

  1. Create a “preview” announcement video of a key topic to be covered in a future specific class. Email the video link to students ahead of that specific class and explain in the audio portion that this is an early look at what you will be covering in class. Add a note of what should be read by students before that class.
  2. Use a stylus to create a video with the ShowMe app and iPad during a class. Illustrate a key point during the class, and then save that video to email to students after class.
  3. Create post-discussion videos either on a laptop or iPad so that students have an opportunity to view the tutorial repeatedly on demand after the class has concluded.
  4. Produce a test review of key points that will be covered on an upcoming test.
  5. Create a graphic such as a table in PowerPoint, save that as a JPEG file, and email the JPEG file to your email address. Then, on your iPad, save that JPEG file as an image in your camera roll. Import that image with the “import” option at the top of the ShowMe screen so you can begin a tutorial with a custom-designed and professional image on the screen.
  6. Rather than repeatedly writing the same narrative comment on numerous papers that you are grading, simply write something like “in-class explanation” on each one, and then produce ONE video explanation of the correct solution to the problem. Play that explanation in class instead of writing the solution anew on a board.
  7. If your school has a Learning Assistance Center or a Student Tutorial Center, email the video to that center so that it may be kept on reserve there for both the students and the tutors.


  • Re-imagining the teaching/learning process is so much easier with this one free application that can address what young learners might expect. It can be quick to produce, dramatic in its visual and audio quality, and effective for learning.
  • It can serve many purposes. It can be created at home or in the classroom. It can be deleted, sections can be erased, and it can be saved to a public site or emailed to specific recipients.
  • Students are given on-demand access, and repeated playing is possible for students who need reinforcement in the learning process.
  • Parents can see what is being covered and can watch how their students address the content, especially if you also make the video link available to them.

Additional resources


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