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Information Presentation | Interface Design | Multimedia Elements

3.3 Multimedia Elements

Audio and video files can be embedded as links or "streamed" to be viewed without waiting for a full download. PowerPoint presentations can be narrated and streamed. Elaborate animations can be displayed. Web site graphics can be interactive, reacting to input from the keyboard or mouse.

Nowhere are the limitations of both student and equipment more critical than with multimedia elements. Do students have the right "plug-in" to display the multimedia? Are their modems fast enough to transfer information? An error in judgment here can create an absolute barrier to education.
Principle:
3.3.1 When using multimedia elements for a web site, always consider the instructional needs of the media elements and the accessibility to end-users.

Practices:

A.Be aware of the limitations of the student's computing experience and limitation of computers and software.

B. When special plug-ins or software are needed to view the multimedia elements on a web site, you must explain exactly what software and hardware is needed to access them and instructions for installing the software if not present.

Examples:

Web sites designed on high quality monitors and high-speed networks perform very differently under "real student" conditions.

A multimedia file can be easily downloaded and displayed on campus networked computers, but it can take minutes to download and display on a student's computer connected to a network with a modem.

If the plug-in is freeware, provide a link to the download site.

 

Principle:
3.3.2 When audio is selected as instructional media, use the audio to reinforce the content, not as a sole carrier of the content.

Practices:

A. Use the highest quality audio possible.

B. The audio must complement, not compete, with the information on the screen.

Examples:

Audio's main benefit is a channel of information separate from the display. It can provide the second of Pavio's (1971)"dual coding." In addition, because of the relatively small amount of data in an audio file, streaming audio is useable over the standard home modem.

Studies in both commercial advertising and the video game industry indicate the brain processes aural information faster than visual information. The aural information should be of high quality for maximum impact (Trout and Ries, 1984.)

Extensive studies have been done on "cognitive dissonance" in relation to televised news. News stories where the audio and video are not closely aligned in content score much lower in comprehension than stories with a close correlation between visual and aural content (Edwardson & Kent, 1992; Davies, Barry, & Clifford, 1985; Grimes, 1991).

Principle:
3.3.3 When animation is selected as instructional media, use it to draw attention, to explain, and reinforce the content, not to distract the user.

Practices:

A. Use animation to draw the audience's attention or alert people to new information.

B. Use animation to indicate the function of a hot spot.

C. Use animation to draw attention to changes from one state to another such as deforestation over time.

D. Use animation to demonstrate navigation in a particular direction.

E. Use animation to create icons for actions that cannot be adequately expressed with a flat, static picture.

Examples:

In one experiment, animated icons increased the comprehension of a set of abstract toolbar actions from 62 percent to 100 percent (Baecker, Small, and Mander, 1991). A simple page-flip may help the student to distinguish forward from backward.

Permanently moving (looping) animations should rarely be included on a Web page. They make it hard for your audience to concentrate on other page content. Research suggests that movement in our peripheral vision can dominate our attention. Research also indicates that moving text is harder to read than static text.

Streaming animation using technology like Macromedia's "Flash" is useful over home modems to explain concepts visually. However, developing this animation requires sophisticated programming skills, and students will need a plug-in to view the animation.

Non-streaming animation such as Shockwave for Authorware or Director are currently not supported due to slow access speeds from the home.
Principle:
3.3.4. Video can be incorporated in an online course through the use of televised videos, DVDs . However, when video is selected as instructional media on a web site, assure that the video is used to assist learning and teaching and that students with lower end computers can access the video.

Practices:

A. Do not use non-streaming media files on the course web site.

Examples:

Even the smallest media file will take several minutes to download. Do not assume that all students have broadband capabilities with DSL or cable modems. Streaming audio, streaming PowerPoint, and more advanced multimedia such as "SMIL" are useable over 56K modems.Check out some Streaming Media.
Principle:
3.3.5. When desktop videoconferencing is selected as instructional media, assure that the videoconferencing is used to assist learning not to distract. Students must be able to access it from their home computers.

Practices:

A. It is recommended that you do not use desktop videoconferencing for online distance learning courses, unless you are certain that students have the capability to access this.

Examples:

Due to limited bandwidth to the home and firewall security issues, desktop videoconferencing is not supported at Florida Gulf Coast University.

Videoconferencing is available on campus and can be arranged through Instructional Technology.

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