Utilizing Digital Media to Enhance Teaching and Learning

As educators, we know that students learn better and faster when they are actively engaged and participating in activities that create learning opportunities along the way. Integrating digital media with classroom technology is a great vehicle for student engagement.

Why use media to teach science? Although media cannot replace hands-on learning, it can strengthen the learning that takes place in the science classroom. You can use media in your classroom to demonstrate scientific concepts, showcase real people practicing science, and connect your students to faraway places. Can’t travel to the Amazon rainforest? No problem! Check it out here. Media can be a powerful tool that sparks curiosity, promotes scientific inquiry, and helps students make connections between their experiences and the content to be learned.


When using digital media, such as videos, in the classroom, here are some tips to consider:

  • Preview the video to check the content, audio levels, and window size. If using a video from the Internet, consider downloading it to avoid Internet connectivity problems, and remember to select “full-screen” mode when it’s available.
  • Use the pause button. You can pause for discussion, to ask for predictions, to define a word, to make connections to students’ own experiences, or to highlight a point made in the video.
  • Replay the video. Students may not take in all the information in one viewing, so replay the video as needed. You could also have the students view the clip multiple times, asking them to focus on a different element each time.
  • Consider turning the volume off and allowing students to observe and comment on the images or predict the content of the narration.

For additional information, see “Classroom Tips” from Teachers’ Domain.


One strategy that teachers can use to utilize media in their classrooms is called Frame, Focus, and Follow-Up.

  1. Frame: Provide a context that helps students pay attention to the main content in the media. Ask students questions about the topic explored in the media resource to activate prior knowledge.
  2.  Focus: Provide students with a specific focus, something to look for while they watch the media. An example of this would be to help students notice the important moments in a video. Without a focus for viewing, students see all sorts of interesting details, but not necessarily the idea or information you want them to focus on.
  3.  Follow-up: Provide an opportunity for students to summarize what they saw. Sometimes students will see different things, and not always what you expected them to see. Retelling what they saw helps students process their understanding of the content and retain it.


Here are some links to exemplary (and free!) digital media resources from public television for your elementary science classroom.

Teachers’ Domain is a digital library of more than 2,600 free resources from the best in public television. These classroom resources, featuring media from NOVA, Curious George, Design Squad, and other public broadcasting and content partners, are easy to use and correlate to state and national curriculum standards. Create your free registration at http://www.teachersdomain.org/.

Teachers’ Domain Polar Sciences Collection
Track polar bears
through the Arctic or take your students on a flying tour of Antarctica.

Dinosaur Train
Embraces the fascination that preschoolers have with both dinosaurs and trains.

Peep and the Big Wide World
Celebrates the curiosity of young children with simple science exploration.

Curious George
Discover science, engineering, and math in the world around us.

The Secret Life of Scientists
Connect your students with real-life scientists and engineers with these intriguing video profiles.

This article was written by Daniella Quiñones. For more information, see the Contributors page. Email Kimberly Lightle, Principal Investigator, with any questions about the content of this site.

Copyright June 2010 – The Ohio State University. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0733024. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. This work is licensed under an Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported Creative Commons license.

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