Posts Tagged ‘multimedia’

5 Ways to Super-Charge Your Teaching with Multimedia
January 5, 2011

We now know that people learn better from words and pictures than from words alone. Yet much of what students interact with in school continues to be mostly text-based. How can a teacher enhance and augment these learning resources most effectively and efficiently, using the rich multimedia now available? There are many ways, but here are 5 ideas you might want to consider:

1. Assess Background Knowledge :
If you are beginning a lesson, you might want to first conduct a K-W-L activity to gauge your learners’ prior knowledge. Do this with a collaborative word processing tool, such as Google Docs. Set up a K-W-L outline, share it with your students, and have them fill out their own information. Or, if you want the information to be anonymous, set up a form in Google Docs, having students submit their information. This will populate a spreadsheet you can quickly review and spot gaps in background knowledge.

2. Set the Stage: To set the stage for learning and to fill in gaps of background knowledge you could jump start your instruction by selecting and presenting various representative multimedia. You can easily search for engaging images, video, interactive activities, animations and documents in the GGfL Library and create a quick and effective presentation. You might want to insert the images/videos on your class website or learning management system, for students to review after a live presentation.

3. Facilitate Student Collaboration/Brainstorming/Analysis: As with most decisions concerning planning for lessons, the learning objectives are one of your first considerations. If you want your students to identify characters in a novel, spot patterns, organize and define concepts, compare ideas, brainstorm, and/or identify relationships, you might want them to contribute to an online concept map, such as

Collaborative tools such as this offer quick and easy ways to get students engaged in a group, encourage conversation, and create relevant, meaningful artefacts. Most importantly, student can create, view, and analyze a visual representation through a collaborative, online medium.

4. Enable Student-Authored Multimedia: Multimedia can provide boundless ways to enhance learning. One of the easiest ways to help your students get started is to have them set up their own blog. It takes just a few minutes and can provide them with an authentic space to write and compile artefacts of learning throughout the year. One of the easiest blogging platforms to start with is Blogger.

How about having your students do a 3 minute response to a picture or video and post that to their blog? Students could create their own multimedia interpretation of a topic, an audio-enhanced presentation, a slide-show using any number of image-sharing tools, or undertake a semester-long project writing a blog from transcripts of letters, primary research, or other information about a person: WWI: Experiences of an English Soldier. (This blog has subsequently been published as a book!)

Students could document and share learning through recording their own videos. Just about any multimedia can easily be embedded on their blog, too. Get a couple of inexpensive video cameras, hand them out, and prepare to be amazed at what your students can create.

5. Engage through Social Interaction/Community:
You can encourage students to participate in active live and back-channel discussions having students view content alone or with a small group, adding a Shoutbox widget to your webpage. Or, have them comment through Twitter, having them use the same hashtags to identify their comments and questions. You can review these comments either as they come in or later, assessing their understanding and the complexity of their questions.

You might also consider setting up a private Facebook group for your class. Facebook provides easy ways to message, share updates, images, and even record directly to the space from your browser.

How about student reviews of movies, books, and other media? This can easily be accomplished through various websites that offer ways to review products and media. One excellent tool, Good Reads, offers a way for students to record the books they want to read, are currently reading, and have read. They can review the books and embed a Good Reads badge on their website, to share their reading experiences with others.

And don’t forget RSS readers, such as Google Reader. These tools can help students research, collect, and more easily analyze resources through viewing content in one space. Spend some time with your students explaining what RSS is, how it can be useful, and how to set up a Google Reader account and subscribe to feeds.

These are just a few of many, many ways you can use multimedia to enhance learning in your classroom.

What are your thoughts and experiences? In what ways are you using multimedia in your classroom? Please post your comments below and thanks for reading.

Using Images in Teaching: A Quick Guide
December 7, 2010

It might be cliché, but it is nevertheless true.

A picture speaks a thousand words.

How We Learn

Butterfly - CorbisThis is of course not to say that words are less important than pictures. But it’s useful to remind ourselves that our brains are essentially twofold, made up of the left hemisphere, which is often described as analytical and verbal, and the right hemisphere, the left’s more creative and visual counterpart.

This means that individuals will absorb information differently depending on how we respond to certain types of stimuli. A textbook or article might serve well in introducing a topic to the learner, but a relevant image to go along with it can then reinforce that learner’s recollection and comprehension of the material. Various studies have shown that this is the case.

This is inherent in what is known as the ‘Multimedia Principle‘, which states that people learn better from words and pictures than words alone.

So the right picture at the right time at the right place is a great way to boost understanding as well as helping your learners build a memorable mental construction around a topic.

However, not all images are created equal. What is one teacher’s trash is another teacher’s treasure. So what should you take into account when using images in your lessons?

Tips for Teachers

Firstly, the image should be relevant to the topic at hand. This requires a judgement call from you as the teacher, and that’s a good thing, as it allows you to be more creative around lesson planning. It’s not very useful to be ultra-prescriptive in aligning an image to a specific area or unit of the curriculum. The beauty of images is that they are ambiguous and can be repurposed across a range of different topics.

Secondly, be creative in how you use an image with your students. A picture is a snapshot in time with clear boundaries but as well as being informative they can also offer great opportunities for opening up wider debate. For example, asking the children to imagine or explore what might have happened before the picture was taken, what happened afterwards, or what might they be able to see just outside the edge of the picture to the right or to the left?

Thirdly, it is always important to bear in mind the origination of an image, and its associated copyright. Copyright is complex, but it can be broken down into a simple rule of thumb: assume everything is copyrighted and approach it from there.

Lastly, you should be aware of the limits imposed by the rights associated with an image. With GGfL, our license allows unlimited use, editing and repurposing of images for educational purposes. But not all sources will offer this flexibility.

Summary – The Hallmarks of a Good Image

Images are a great way for teachers to spice up a lesson and engage visual learners. However, there is a lot of uncertainty around the vast amounts of information available via the world wide web. So to be sure you are using images effectively for teaching, bear in mind the following:

Relevancy: The image should directly relate to the topic at hand. It should reinforce a concept in a way that words alone can’t.

Authority: Make sure the image is coming from a trusted source. As mentioned, there are a lot of known unknowns online. So be sure the source is a reliable one and that it won’t throw up any inappropriate or offensive content for your students.

Copyright: Not an easy issue but one teachers and schools need to be cognizant of nonetheless. Make sure the image is copyright-cleared for use so that you don’t end up on the receiving end of a hefty fine for copyright-infringement. Also be aware of what you can and can’t do with an image, even when it is copyright-cleared.

Are you a teacher or education professional who uses digital images for teaching? Let us know your views and opinions or even share some of the imaginative ways that you’ve used images in the classroom.

Multimedia to Address Diverse Learning Styles?
August 31, 2010

If you take an education methods class, you will inevitably discuss learning styles. Do they exist? If so, should we create different types of instructional content to address diverse learning styles? How much time can a teacher invest in adjusting instruction to meet the needs of diverse learners? The questions go on and on.

Image from

What about learning styles? You’ll find a lot of research on this topic. Just do a search on Google Scholar (, using the phrase “learning styles,” and the search engine returns about 141,000 results. David Kolb writes about the Experiential Learning Cycle, telling us that adults learn differently from children and that often we need to “unlearn.” The Felder-Silverman Index of Learning Styles includes four dimensions: processing (active/reflective), perception (sensing/intuitive), input (visual/verbal) and understanding (sequential/global). The Honey and Mumford Learning Styles Questionnaire (LSQ) provides another way for people to analyze how they best learn. And if you are an educator, you know about Gardner’s multiple intelligences. Learning styles have been identified in the ESL/EFL classroom and associated with culture, race, and a whole slew of other criteria. How we view learning styles depends a lot on how we believe people learn.

Richard E. Mayer states that the learning style view works with the “information acquisition” theory of learning–learners are empty vessels needing to be filled with information. In contrast to this, the cognitive theory of multimedia learning is based on the assumption that (a) all learners have separate channels for processing verbal and pictorial material, (b) each channel is limited (limited capacity learning principle) in the amount of processing that can take place at one time, and (c) learners actively build pictorial and verbal models from instructional materials and build connections between them.

The multimedia principle is simple and straightforward: People learn better from words and pictures than from words alone.

(Image Copyright 2010, Barbara Schroeder, Ed.D.)

If we believe the cognitive theory of multimedia learning to be true, then we can and should create instruction that is engaging, addresses all learners, and helps them build their own mental representations. After all, the goal of effective instruction is to encourage the learner to engage in active cognitive processing. Sure, there are exceptions to multimedia principles, such as expert learners not needing as much multimedia enrichment than novices, but the principles can be used by instructors to guide the design and presentation of instruction.

Instead of using multimedia to address diverse learning styles, use multimedia to address how people learn–by selecting words and images, organizing words and images, and integrating verbal and pictorial representations with each other and existing knowledge. This “knowledge construction” metaphor for learning presents people as active participants in their own learning.

Now some of you might be scratching your heads and saying–”But wait a minute. I learn better from text than from pictures.” Well, that might be true, but I would argue that this is not a learning style, but a learning preference. It just means that you selected the text to read instead of looking at the picture, too. Maybe the picture was of bad quality or a poor representation of the text. But if an appropriate picture is used along with the text, in the right place, then you will learn even better. And if you are already skilled in a certain procedure or concept, then a picture or text alone might do the trick. And if narration is used instead of text along with images, then multimedia research shows that this is even better than static text and pictures.

This post is not meant to resolve or incite the continuing debate over the validity and reliability of learning styles. And some may argue that “style” also means “preference.” That’s okay. I’m used to debating educational issues. However, using proven, research-based multimedia and other message design principles along with effective instructional strategies can go a long way in providing excellent instruction and encouraging learning. I’ve listed books below that will help you get started:

Clark, R. C., & Mayer, R. E. (2008). E-learning and the science of instruction: Proven guidelines for consumers and designers of multimedia learning, 2nd edition. San Francisco: Pfeiffer.

Fleming, M. L., & Levie, W. H. (1993). Instructional message design: Principles from the behavioral and cognitive sciences. Educational Technology.

10 Reasons to Use Multimedia in the Classroom
August 4, 2010

Students around a computerBy incorporating multimedia in their instruction, teachers can capture attention, engage learners, explain difficult concepts, inspire creativity, and have fun. However, there are many tools available and many ways to use those tools. If you are a teacher searching for a technology tool to accomplish certain learning goals or outcomes, you can easily be overwhelmed. Given the limited amount of time teachers have during the day, why should you take the time to learn about and use these tools? I’ll try to answer this question.

Following is a list of ten reasons you should use multimedia in your classroom. As you investigate and try these and other tools, you will notice that they are social–encouraging sharing, feedback, publication, and other experiences that support learning. By modelling social learning and learning with technology, you will be preparing your students for success in today’s rapidly changing world.

1. Facilitate and develop a community of learners through online ice-breaker activities. These activities offer fun and easy ways to get to know each other while also providing outlets for student creativity. A neat tool that works well for this is VoiceThread. Students can use a computer web-cam to record a video of themselves and view other students videos, all on one page.

2. Help students visualize difficult concepts or procedures more easily by using static or dynamic multimedia. I have used a very simple and efficient software called ScreenSteps, which allows you to quickly create visual handouts for learners. Teachers and students can use Jing software to record a screen shot or video, which produces a video tutorial or information about a website, embedding the video on their website or sending it to the student as an email attachment. These types of software provide a great way for teachers to make the most out of their multimedia and online resources.

3. Scaffold learning through activities enhanced by videos and online games. When assigning reading about an obscure historical event, you might want to create pre-reading activities by having students watch and comment on videos that fill in needed background knowledge. Searching for videos about events on Global Grid for Learning (GGfL), for instance, can provide needed support and add to a student’s gap in knowledge.  Then you could embed these videos on your class website, blog, or wiki. Or have students add to a playlist as they locate more videos on the topic.

4. Make language and culture come alive through the viewing and creation of audio and video instruction. Students could view videos and television programs available online and stay up to date on current events in that country. They could also create their own videos and share them with another class, comparing cultural norms and addressing other questions through a group blog or wiki.

5. Provide a “menu” of authentic assignment options for students to complete, allowing them to explore and identify their passions and talents. Encourage them to create and publish an original digital story. Have them produce a weekly podcast show for the classroom, highlighting events of the week, using blogs. They might also want to film their developing skills in a sport or record their progress in learning a musical instrument.

6. Enhance accessibility through the use of powerful multimedia software tools. Encourage students to use a speech-to-text tool to write their next essay or short story. This is especially helpful for students who have fine motor challenges or students who have trouble with keyboarding. Use auto-captioning features to create accessible multimedia for students with hearing challenges.

7. Enable visualization of concepts and their connections through collaborative construction and discussion of concept maps. One of my all-time favourites is CMap tools, a free, multi-platform software tool that can be downloaded to your computer. Students could work in groups, constructing a concept map and even recording within CMap tools this construction.

8. Encourage collaboration and feedback by integrating assignments with tools that support conversations and comments. For instance, have students post their slideshows and have them view their classmates’ presentations, and post comments. Or have students create video comments on video sharing sites such as TeacherTube. Use collaborative software such as blogs and wikis for students to easily create, edit, and publish their work. And make sure you provide information for parents to access these social media sites to see what their children are doing.

9. Make learning situated and personal with easy to access information from you and the rest of the world. Have students subscribe to your class Twitter and blog feeds and enable them on their mobile devices, if possible. Or, have them use a Twitter aggregator, such as Tweetdeck, to stay on top of news announcements. Show them how to subscribe to dynamic sites using RSS Readers and how to read and track updated content. Have them subscribe to podcasts and rate those podcasts. Allow students to contact you using SMS.

10. Help students document and present their learning through authentic assessments. Instead of taking an end of term test, have students collect their work and detail their progress on their Learning Log, using any number of free blogging tools. Show them how to tag their posts, how to create categories (which could be the course objectives or standards), how to link to artefacts, how to write reflections, and then set aside time at the end of each week for reflection and documentation of their work. At the end of the term or semester, students could then refine their Learning Log, turning it into a showcase Portfolio, presenting it to the class and parents, discussing their work, what they learned, and where they want to go from there. Not only would this individualize their learning experience, but it would make students more responsible for their work and enable them to experience learning as being life-long and active.

As you can see from these ideas, you can easily align instructional goals and empower instruction through using appropriate multimedia tools. It takes some planning, time, and expenditures (video cameras, software), but in the long run, your students will reap many benefits, such as taking more responsibility for their learning, becoming aware of their learning and how to document it, and realizing their own creative potential.

Students as Creators of Multimedia Instruction
July 9, 2010

If you were in school during the 1960s, like me, you probably remember the anticipation and excitement when the filmstrip projector was brought out. If you’ve never heard of or seen a filmstrip, there is a picture below. The projector held the filmstrip, which was inserted vertically in front of the projector. Filmstrips usually came with a teacher’s guide along with a 33 RPM record to provide the audio. The person in charge of the filmstrip projector would advance to the next slide when a tone sounded. Even though the content was “educational” and dry, this multimedia device was a welcome diversion from the almost totally text-based classroom environment. Even turning the projector knob was fun. How things have changed.

Filmstrip Projector

Now, we have many more options to include multimedia (both static and dynamic) in our classrooms–to enhance a physics lesson, provide pre-reading strategies for a literature assignment, stimulate a discussion or brainstorming session, serve as a platform for research or debate, and a multitude of other options. As a teacher, you have many more ways to include multimedia, both content that you create and content you can locate online.

Of course, Global Grid for Learning (GGfL) provides an easy way for you to locate, organize, and present content to serve any number of instructional strategies and learning objectives you’ve identified for your students. With over 1 million multimedia resources for teaching, you won’t be running out soon. Whenever you can use resources that meet your needs, it will save you a lot of time. But what about when you cannot locate something or you need more specialized content for your classroom? What are your options?

You could: (1) create the multimedia instruction yourself or (2) have your students create it. For many reasons, it is often desirable to have students create multimedia for various applications, such as instruction, research, interviews, and other creative activities. In this way, you can free up your time to help students with the projects, learn along with them, and create an extensive archive of useful instructional and learning multimedia products. Because students create the instruction, they will have opportunities to learn about the multimedia technologies and about content. You will hear me preach this very often–teachers do not and should not create all of the instructional materials for the classroom. Students should increasingly take on this role and become more active learners.

Students as Creators: Ideas to Get Started

How do you get started? There is no one “right” way, and it really depends upon the students’ skills and the instructional product or material they are creating. You may find you and your students need to learn a technology tool together, such as a video editing program (try Windows Movie Maker or Mac OS X iMovie) or a game creation tool (Flipnote studio for Nintendo DS) before you can create instructional content or a learning artefact. Or you may ask them to create a collaborative slideshow to enhance an instructional unit using Google Docs ( presentation software in groups, which would require little to no pre-instruction.

You might decide to collaborate using a class channel on authorSTREAM (, requiring students to narrate and upload PowerPoint files and comment on other student work. Or students could research YouTube, locating videos that explain and synthesize a concept they are learning and create their own customized annotated playlist along with an introductory video using their computer webcam.

The list of ideas is endless . . . How about students creating cartoons in place of essays, writing their reports or other reviews in this genre? There are many ways they can do this collaboratively, such as Toondoo (, which allows them to create and share their cartoons online. You might want students to explain a concept through a video game, which they can also accomplish online, using a game creator called Sploder (

Students could easily create their own blogs (I like the easy interface of Blogger), upload their videos, and create a video podcast on a semester-long project. Everything involved in this would be free, as blogger hosts videos on Google Video and the blogging platform is also free. Included in this activity would be the necessity to learn about RSS and how to subscribe to feeds, an essential aspect of social media and Web 2.0 tools. Students could share their blogs and create a feed mash-up using tools such as Yahoo! Pipes. And if you don’t know how to do this, then again, learn with your students. Imagine the empowerment and sense of accomplishment that would accompany this work as students explore, create, share, and yes, teach.

So, the next time you think you need to create new multimedia instruction, think again. Research and use the multimedia already created and easily available online. And encourage your students to create rich and engaging instructional content and products. It’s a win-win situation.