Multimedia - Planning and Managing for a Better Product

Planning   Types of Multimedia Projects   Graphics   Pulling Multimedia in   Technology Skills   Assessment  

Planning. A multimedia product, such as Power Point, can really get the students going in a computer lab. Presentations can become extremely complex and help is needed often when students are in the middle of creating special effects. There really is not much to be accomplished if there has been no planning between teacher and computer tech. Students have to have research geared towards this product; it will not work if they bring in a typed report intending to produce a multimedia product. Use of graphic organizers are key to the success of a multimedia project, because students must become aware that they are NOT writing a series of paragraphs. They will be presenting a series of main ideas, facts, or short descriptions. The presentation will be a series of charts, and student must have a good idea of how their topic is to be broken up. Bibliographies should also be complete before beginning the project. Students should have all research and graphic organizers complete before beginning Power Point, or any other multimedia software, because they will not have a good plan for the total presentation. Teachers can review the drafts of the text in hand written form or typed, printed format. Power Point allows the easy printing of text only for teacher review.

Types of multimedia projects. Teachers should decide which type of presentation will apply, or if the students will make this choice. The three types are:

  • Self Playing presentations. With this type, slides advance automatically and all special effects play automatically. There is no manual intervention at all, and the presentation becomes a "show."

  • Manually advanced presentations with linear progression. This type of presentation will advance slides and text only on the click of the mouse. Special effects can be set to go off automatically or by a mouse click. Students required to give an oral presentation accompanying their multimedia presentation should use this type. Example of topics with linear progression are biographies or History.

  • Manually advanced presentation without linear progression, or "interactive." This type of presentation is most difficult for students to plan in advance if they haven't seen it done already. The front slide will have hyper links which can be clicked in any order by the presenter. When clicked, another slide will appear which has specific information, special effects, and a place to click which takes the presentation back to the front slide or on to another. Students should be required to make a "map" in advance, with lines connecting all slides (boxes) which are to be connected by action buttons. Otherwise it becomes difficult to visualize. This type of presentation are for topics where there is no particular order that information should be presented. Examples are parts of a plant, math projects, etc. This type of presentation can be created with an accompanying oral talk in mind, or it can be created as a presentation which students will take turns sitting down and studying it interactively. This is a particularly good format for students [or teachers] who want to create interactive quizzes. Power Point has a feature for action buttons which when clicked, will take the viewer back to whatever slide brought the viewer to that point. This means that a generic "wrong answer" slide can be prepared which will work again and again to return the viewer to whichever slide they came from. Buttons can also activate sound effects, or other actions.

Graphics Teachers should have an idea ahead of time what graphics, if any, the students are to use for the project. Many choices are:

  • Maps, photos or other graphics can be found and downloaded from the Internet during the class computer lab time. Students will be taught how to search for, download and insert graphics into their documents. Permission is not necessary as long as the use of the graphic remains within the confines of classroom instruction. See the copyright law, Chapter 1, Section 107 for details. (For a nice hypertext version, instead of the difficult to read PDF version on the LOC web site, go to

  • Students can be taught how to use the drawing tools to alter graphics (e.g., to put an arrow mark on a map graphic), or to create simple graphics themselves using Word Art, autoshapes, etc.

  • Students can use scanners to scan in graphics found in books or art work they themselves have created. Students will be taught how to scan, save, manipulate and insert the graphic into their documents.

  • Students can create their own graphics using Windows paint or some other software.

  • Students can use a digital camera to take a photo. Students will be taught how to download the image from the camera, save it, manipulate it and insert it into their documents.

  • Students can use conventional clipart programs or encyclopedia CDs to find suitable graphics. Students will be taught how to search clipart or encyclopedia CDs, save the image and insert it into their documents. See the copyright law, Chapter 1, Section 107, for details on use of copyrighted material for classroom instruction. (For a nice hypertext version, instead of the difficult to read PDF version on the LOC web site, go to

Pulling Multimedia In. A multimedia presentation has a number of ways that the media can be manipulated to support or enhance the topic. Students should be taught the various ways and encouraged to create presentations which are a "total experience." The available facets of multimedia are discussed below:

  • Graphical design and the use of color has a powerful effect in a multimedia presentation. Students should be taught (if time allows) how colors are associated with moods. Teachers should decide in advance how much time to allocate to this topic. Areas of the art curriculum can be emphasized here which deal with use of imagery, lines and color.

  • Background music also has a powerful effect to enhance and support a topic. Teachers should think about and establish rules for use of music and how much freedom student preference should be given. Many music files are available on the internet which allows students to conform to the period/ethnic theme of the presentation. If time allows, students should be taught how to coordinate music patterns to animation patterns. Music links can be found here.

  • Sound effects are available on the Internet and some in Power Point. Used sparingly and with careful selection of quality, they add a tremendous depth of feeling to a presentation. Due to the inclusion of inappropriate sounds in all sound web sites I've seen, I do not have a link of sound effects for students to browse through as I do for music. However, teachers can search on "sound effects" and come up with a number of sites having a rich variety of sound effects most of which are designated as open domain files.

  • Students can also use a microphone to create their own sound effects. Unexpectedly hearing student voices during a presentation jars the "viewer" into attention with stunning exactness. Again, teachers should decide in advance how much time to allocate to this activity. Due to the need for complete silence, the recording session usually has to be the same period for everybody in the class. The students take turns using the microphones. I have also had a "free period" designated for sound recording when a whole class needed to do this.

  • Video also adds fascination to a presentation. Video clips can be downloaded or student created video can be added. If students create their own clips, they must be encouraged to keep the time to 5 seconds or below as the file sizes can become enormous.

  • Buttons add a fascination for the viewer. If free access to the total presentation is granted by generous application of buttons, the viewer becomes engaged in a learning experience. Students should be encouraged to explore interactive presentations.

  • Animation and timing. It is critical that students be taught how important it is that the motion and progression of the multimedia be controled in a manner that allows the viewer to digest the content. This means readable text, supporting graphics, animation that directs, not distracts.

Technology Skills. Many technology skills can be chosen selectively for introduction during a multimedia project. These include:

  • Text manipulation (font, size, bold, italic, underline, justification, color, text art, text boxes, spell checking, grammar checking, copying, cutting, pasting, deleting). Text needs to be readable, inviting (ie, NOT long paragraphs) and attractive in multimedia.

  • Methods to save and retrieve files (the correct server, path, file name, file extension, folder, drive)

  • Object formatting (text boxes, sound, video, and graphics boxes, formatted for animation, autoplay, manual advance, autostart, loop, timing, dim/flash)

  • Graphics manipulation (inserting, resizing, cropping, framing, copying, cutting, pasting, deleting, moving, grouping)

  • Use of peripherals (microphone, CD ROM, scanner, digital camera, and printer)

  • Other Technology Skills: tool bars, short cut icons, menu system, help system, short cut keys, task switching, and other features which can be utilized during word processing. Certainly if there is much searching the Internet for graphics, video or music, task switching can become second nature to the students.

Assessment of a presentation. Teachers traditionally have no serious problem grading research papers. However, grading a presentation can be more tricky. There are a number of resource available which have rubrics for multimedia projects. Mrs. Carol Cisky, fifth grade of John F. Pattie Elementary, has a rubric she adapted from a Teacher Created Materials rubric appearing in several of their books. Click here to view it.


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