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.
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.
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 artifact. Or you may ask them to create a collaborative slideshow to enhance an instructional unit using Google Docs (http://docs.google.com) presentation software in groups, which would require little to no pre-instruction.
You might decide to collaborate using a class channel on authorSTREAM (http://authorstream.com), 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 (http://www.toondoo.com), which allows them to create and share their cartoons online. You might want students to explain a concept through the a video game, which they can also accomplish online, using a game creator called Sploder (http://www.sploder.com).
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 mashup 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.