Courses on critical thinking skills often invoke a yawn or two from students. Instructors Keiron and Kirk McConnell at Royal Roads University decided that they were going to change that.
When they were asked to instruct Logical and Analytical Thinking in the Justice Context (a distance course at Royal Roads) they saw “boring” written all over it.
“We needed something to deliver to the students so they could see meaning for the material in a real life application,” said Keiron. They looked for a new way to deliver their potentially dry material, a way to provide students with realistic information that could be accessed online anytime.
Past instructors used mock criminal investigations or role play assignments, but many students found them challenging and had trouble imagining the written situations as real.
The solution came in the form of a series of videos and written statements embedded into Google Maps.
Carlos da Cruz Alves, the Interactive Media Developer at the RRU Centre for Teaching and Learning Technologies (CTET) worked with Keiron and Kirk to help build create this interactive piece.
“I’m a student at Royal Roads as well as a staff member and so I know how vital it is to really engage the material. We brought in actors and shot them making statements as either witnesses or victims and then integrated those videos into Google Maps.” -Carlos da Cruz Alves
Using the information taken from the videos, students could track the location of the crime or the movements of the accused using either Google Maps or Google Earth. This visual representation of the crime helped students immerse themselves in the investigation.
“The students responded very well and the investigation assignment has come alive for them,” said Keiron McConnell. “The videos and Google maps add to the realism of the assignment and help to engage even the students who had trouble with ‘make believe’ role plays in the past.”
According to Keiron, the key to incorporating different forms of media into a program is to develop it slowly and get as much technical and creative support as possible. The result is a set of resources that are successful and simple to use.