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The Invention of the Printing Press: A Narrative 

The_Printing_Press
00:00 / 03:38

An Audio Journey Into the Printing Press

 

This project will be an audio review of the invention and importance of the printing press. It will use sounds and podcast style talk to describe the events surrounding its invention, and foray into how it changed the world.

 

Statement of Need

The printing press was arguably one of the most important inventions of its time. However, many students struggle to understand how it changed not only the educational landscape, but the political landscape of Europe as well. Using a different format, such as a podcast style audio that likens the invention of the printing press to the invention of the phone, can help bridge that gap and aid students in understanding its importance.  

 

Concept Description

This will be an audio explanation of the changes the printing press made to the political landscape of Europe. I will be describing some of the major turning points, and there will be background sounds that help immerse the audience into the narrative. The idea is to give students something they can listen to for homework, where it can be as they go home on the train, as they do chores, or even as they prepare to sleep. Giving them this avenue to study/learn accommodates the fact that they might not be able to sit down and read longer documents. The outline below shows how the podcast will go. 

 

Target Audience

The target audience will be high school students in the United States. There are two specific groups this content targets:

  • Students in global history courses.

  • Students in European History courses, such as AP European History.

The learning goals come from New York Common Core, and thus the target audience will be New York students. However, this topic is prevalent throughout the country, so while the common core standards are from New York, this will also target students across the country.

 

Outline

  1. Introduce myself to the audience.

  2. Begin with context on how the political landscape was before the printing press.

  3. Our hero enters and the story continues! The printing press was invented!

  4. Now, more people had access to books and reading material… more people can read.

  5. People begin to read the Bible, and have their own thoughts and interpretations.

  6. Protestant Reformation, rise of literacy.

  7. Scientific Revolution, spread of knowledge (like the invention of the phone!)

  8. Rise of ability to protest.

  9. Conclusion

 

Learning Goals

The common core standards connected to this audio piece are as follows:

 

  1. The Reformation challenged traditional religious authority, which prompted a counter reformation that led to a religiously fragmented Western Europe and political conflicts. This religious upheaval continued the marginalization of Jews in European society.

  2. The Renaissance was influenced by the diffusion of technology and ideas. The Islamic caliphates played an important role in this diffusion.

 

Students will focus on the Protestant reformation that came from the increased spread of ideas, and the diffusion of ideas that came from the printing press. Both of these learning goals will aid students in understanding the changing political climate from the 1400s-1700s.

 

Learning Theories

There are a number of learning theories that were used in the making of this podcast audio. Audio itself is important because a human voice directly captures the attention of the listener. It is a different way for students to gain knowledge, and can be listened to in more situations than reading simply with a pair of headphones. I specifically decided to read the entire script with my voice, without changes, to add to this human element for my listeners. This is further added to with the sound effects I use, such as hoofbeats for the arrival of Johannes Guttenberg, and the sound of a hammer and nail for Martin Luther’s “95 theses”. It adds a level of immersion to the students, where they can imagine themselves in the narrative in a way a simple reading or lesson will not. Learner engagement is vital, and a level of immersion can add to this engagement. Finally, there are numerous amounts of plain humor, such as an “uh oh” and a “yikes” strategically placed to surprise and invest listeners in the narrative. Humor can help humanize the podcast, and make listeners feel like they are a part of the conversation. It makes the audio feel less like a lesson and more like a fun conversation. 

Of course this ties to the idea of lessening cognitive overload. Often, information in class can be presented in a way that increases cognitive load, to the point where students miss information and cannot learn all of it. An audio file that creates a short summary helps lessen the idea of cognitive overload, as often readings or lessons have both visual and auditory stimulus for longer summaries that might overwhelm students' cognitive processes. All of these aspects can also help teachers use this audio as a type of assessment. Questions can be provided in class or as homework that are answered in the audio, or projects to make audios like it. This can add to learner engagement. Overall, there are numerous educational and learning theories that support the creation of my narrative on the invention of the printing press.

 

Reflection

As I was thinking about what I wanted to do for this project, I remembered teaching about the Renaissance, Protestant Reformation and Scientific Revolution a year ago to my AP European History students. It took them a while to truly grasp how important the printing press was in this time period. I immediately thought it would be interesting to create a bit of a narrative in a podcast style, with sound effects and other fun aspects that would immerse the audience and keep them interested in the audio. This led to me writing a script, and creating the project I did.

Actually completing this project was a bit frustrating. At first, I was stuck for a while on figuring out why the recording button was not working. Then I had to look up how to turn off the metronome, as it was very distracting. It took me a couple of tries to finish the recording, and I was frustrated with some small moments and tried to splice and trim the file. But trying to re-record snippets actually takes away from the natural aspect of the audio, and so I kept many of them in. I realized later this actually adds to the more natural feel, as it feels like a conversation rather than a robotic lecture. Finally, I had to find numerous effects to add, and I did not find some of what I was looking for. I came to the solution of recording my own (some in funny voices) which was actually quite fun. 

Overall, the most difficult aspect was my lack of knowledge of this type of project in garageband. In the future, I will have more experience and will be able to use many features I am learning about currently. I will also leave more natural pauses for the sake of editing, so that I can easily trim aspects of the recording that I don’t like. I also now have a better understanding of how to include extra sound effects, and I will expand my repertoire to use more of garage bands features.

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