Thursday, May 28, 2009

Multimedia in the Educational Environment

In my previous post, I mentioned the role of multimedia in the educational environment. Teachers expect students to do different types of projects than they used to do. And in turn, students desire to do more complex projects for their teachers. Shifting a poster board presentation onto a PowerPoint slide was one step. However, now students and teachers are engaging in projects such as podcasts, movies, animations, slideshows, etc. that contain dynamic content. In Korea, we have huge billboards running TV-like advertisements. Multimedia is the norm.

Not all projects are best as multimedia projects. The goal of student work is a key ingredient here. Teachers want students to attain certain skills and standards in their work. Students need ways to display their understanding. In many cases, multimedia gives a much more rich, deep demonstration of understanding than other options. When applied in this context, multimedia helps students demonstrate their understanding more clearly to their teachers. So, overall, multimedia has changed expectations and changed the types of assessments students encounter in their academics.

The Apple platform is the professional grade standard for multimedia. KBS, one of the main Korean television stations, is not alone in the world of broadcasting to use Apple for their editing and multimedia needs. Whether it is editing photographs, creating feature length movie animations, or editing live television shows, it is common to see Apple computers in graphic environments.

The average student or teacher does not use these advanced applications. However, the iLife suite is useful for the more common multimedia functions. iPhoto organizes photos easily and can create slideshows and convert them into movies in minutes. iMovie allows even beginning users to edit movies in ways that look like quality products. GarageBand can be used to create podcasts or record music and audio. All 3 of these applications work together and integrate easily with one another. As these tools make quality products easier and quicker, more time can be spent on the content and the depth of understanding.

We do not want to just do multimedia because it is "cool." We want to use multimedia because it engages students in powerful ways and allows them to demonstrate an understanding of the curriculum in a clear and effective manner. Apple supports this multimedia environment more effectively than the Windows platform. (Again, I am not saying it cannot be done on a Windows machine, it is just easier and works better on the Mac.) In addition to be designed for multimedia, designers and creators of such programs like the iLife suite specifically consider how educators can use the software in its design. Education has long been another niche besides graphics of Apple and their partnership with schools all over the world continue to demonstrate their commitment in this area.

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