Creating Multimedia Assignments that Help Students

The author begins his article with an anecdote that should serve to remind teachers about the challenges of using today’s electronics in the classroom. “How often have you sat down at the computer with a spare 20 minutes to search the web for a lesson plan or supplemental material, only to find yourself still sitting there an hour later?” the author asks. “We all know how technology, which is supposed to be a time saver, can be a time eater. Our students face the same problem.”

Multimedia projects may take students into unfamiliar territory, and it is a teacher’s role to provide guidance to make that experience as positive as possible. This begins by making sure that students understand the objectives of technology-based assignments. Having students think about those objectives before starting the project—even having them help determine the objectives—is a lesson in and of itself.

A second important step at the outset of a multimedia project is for the student (or, more likely, team members) to break down the project into specific tasks. This will help ensure full participation by all team members and minimize missteps.

A third key is for students to consider the way(s) in which they will present their findings to their peers. The type of presentation will have a large impact on the ways in which information must be obtained, analyzed, and saved. In addition, deciding about presentation early in the process ensures fewer false steps. Students should be reminded that because the project is multimedia, they should consider ways of presenting information besides lectures.

Finally, the author says that teachers should encourage students to adjust their plans as details emerge. While planning ahead is important, it should not act as a straitjacket on collaborative projects that are, by their very nature, likely to evolve.

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