Pachyderm: Starting the research

It seems like I get more and more requests to help faculty direct and plan multimedia projects done by students. This is a good thing, of course, because it means that faculty are really trying to integrate technology into teaching and learning. It’s also a challenge for me, since the number of tools one can use to create multimedia presentations is growing at a rapid clip. No longer (thank goodness!) is PowerPoint the only vehicle for multimedia. We have SO MANY GOOD CHOICES now that it is up to the user and the goals of the project to determine the best tool.

Today I’m going to start the process of researching what looks like a FABULOUS tool to create multimedia presentations geared for web delivery and self-discovery. First of all, I’m going to tell you I have NOT used this software yet. However, during the course of the next few postings, I will be reporting back to you on what I have done, what I have discovered, and how this tool might be best used in education. So, like a podcast, I am enticing you to stay tuned. 🙂

This tool is called “Pachyderm,” and if you can spell it correctly, you are probably half-way there. Even for me, an English major, the letters don’t come easily. As you may remember from grade school, a pachyderm is a fancy word for “elephant,” although also tells us it can mean rhinoceros or hippopotamus (I had to use spell-check for rhinoceros). Interestingly, the word also means a person who is insensitive to ridicule, thick-skinned (like an elephant, I guess). Don’t know if this was researched by the software company before choosing the name.

Anyway, take a look at the Pachyderm site and the examples provided in the Pachyderm Showcase. These presentations are supposed to be EASY to create (I’m skeptical, but would like to be pleasantly surprised). It appears that this software might have promising applications for self-directed presentations, tutorials, or other types of writing that would benefit from a non-linear approach with pictures. These are flash files, which means they tend to be smaller and can be downloaded for web viewing. Also, these presentations can include audio and video. As I looked over some of the examples in the Showcase, I was struck by the absence of sound and felt that many of them could be GREATLY improved with narration.

The Showcase includes “Top Picks,” and I naturally selected the first one, which is described as follows:

Anselm Kiefer: Heaven and Earth
Explore four decades of art by Anselm Kiefer, including paintings, sculptures, books, and works on paper that reflect the artist’s career-long meditation on the relationship between heaven and earth. This program features a variety of works highlighted in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art‘s exhibition Anselm Kiefer: Heaven and Earth, the first American survey of Kiefer’s work in nearly two decades. Video interviews with the artist are presented alongside dozens of images of artwork and documentation from the artist’s studio.


I explored this presentation and was awed by its professional design, the inclusion of video, and its flow. Can college students create stuff like this? Yes.

To make this software work, you need to have it installed on a web server, so that’s my next step. Things are pretty busy for our network people here at Academic Technologies, but I’ll try my best to make this happen. Then, my next step is to explore the software and report back to you. Stay tuned.


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