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Incorporating Multimedia Into Your Course

Page history last edited by Anne McKinney 14 years, 9 months ago



Leaping forward with technology

The amount of multimedia - combining text, graphics, video, sound, or animation - you bring to your course will depend on your comfort level with learning new technology and programs. If you're already comfortable with using audio/visual technology, this page may serve as a jumping-off point for embracing bold new methods for conveying information to your students.


If you're not already comfortable with it, don't panic -- using multimedia technology doesn't have to be hard. The content on this page gives a few examples of tools you can use to build audio/visual elements into your course.


Adding images


As mentioned on the previous page about multiple learning styles, it's useful to "display" some visual content beyond just basic text. It doesn't just help visual learners -- an eye-catching graphic can make your text more lively and engaging. Depending on the type of course management system you use, adding an image may be a matter of uploading a file into a shared directory or discussion board post, or otherwise embedding an image directly onto a page with html. If you aren't sure how this is handled by your CMS, contact your local IT support center for help.


Easy do-it-yourself visuals

The following may be familiar choices for creating your own visuals, along with their uses:


  • Charts and graphs - sharing data
  • Your own photos - showing a step-by-step process or simply sharing glimpses into your life and travels
  • Your own artwork - hand-drawn graphic explanations scanned in or created with a tool like LectureScribe


A fun way to create your own visual mini-lessons without any drawing skill is by using the drag-and-drop comic strip builder, Stripgenerator. This creates a flash-based, comic strip with pre-drawn characters and objects - as you have probably seen on other pages throughout this course website. Below is my first strip, which attempts to explain the value of the medium:



Because it's flash-based, the text content isn't accessible - so a plain-text translation is a necessary inclusion (which you'll see at the bottom of the page). It's also limited in color and appearance, but it's a quick option for folks with limited artistic ability. For more information, visit my strip blog on Stripgenerator.


Using Creative Commons images

The colorful photo of the home library above[1] is an example of an image that is available through Creative Commons licensing. Creative Commons allows users to share their work with the public "for free and legal sharing, use, repurposing, and remixing" ("What is CC?"). This means that you don't have to rely solely on your own photographic skill or shell out money for a stock image if you want to add a photo to your course page.


Compfight is a search engine that can be used to for creative commons licensed photos on Flickr. This engine can also be used to search for commercially available images, so it's important to check "Creative Commons Only" at the top of the page before searching for Creative Commons images.


Adding audio

Perhaps the most common way to incorporate audio into your course is by creating a podcast. This is usually an audio recording of a lecture, though some instructors use them for explaining new assignments, giving feedback, or introducing students to the course. The following link opens a sample podcast I recorded with Audacity as an .mp3 file to give more explanation about the benefits of using podcasts, and suggestions for making them clear and accessible.



If you are unable to open this file or hear the recording, a written transcript is available here.


Courses that include synchronous (real-time) activities usually have an audio broadcast. We'll discuss more about synchronous learning on the next page. Another possible venue for podcasts is to record an interview with a student or guest lecturer using a service like Skype Call Recorder. There are many other possibilities for bringing audio to your course; these are just a few ideas to help you get started.


Adding video

The following is a short video that I recorded in 2008 on the subject of recording video lectures. It runs at 5:36 minutes long. Below is an outline that summarizes the video: pros and cons for use, alternative suggestions for recording.


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Video Lectures: Are They Worth It? (Outline of the video)



  • See and hear the instructor
  • Bridges the gap between students and instructor
  • Hands-on demonstration?
  • Can be fun, quirky?



  • Lengthy lectures = huge files to download
  • Can be very dry if you just feature your face and read from a script
  • Can create accessibility issues if you don’t have a verbatim text copy, or otherwise leaves disabled students in the cold


Alternative Suggestions

  • Media lab—get assistance assembling a more impressive-looking vodcast
  • Small, inexpensive digital video recorder—for the do-it-yourself renegade instructor


Text only translation of the comic strip on this page

I'm using Stripgenerator to explain brief teaching points to my online students. It delivers the message in a way that's fun & quirky, and offers some much-needed visual appeal so my course isn't so text-heavy. I haven't decided if that's supposed to be funny.




  1. Photo: Bookshelf spectrum, creative commons licensed photo via Flickr by chotda http://www.flickr.com/photos/48600074651@N01/1704875109/

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