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Engaging learners with digital content paves the way for next-level learning experiences—and it all starts with high-quality multimedia content.

4 questions to ask about multimedia content

Engaging learners with digital content paves the way for next-level learning experiences—and it all starts with high-quality multimedia content

When considering multimedia presentation systems for classroom use, one’s mind immediately goes to the hardware–the monitors, projectors, and other components often grab all the attention. But, what is the critical ingredient in a multimedia presentation system? The MULTIMEDIA! Without high-quality multimedia content that is flexible to meet instructional goals, your presentation system is just a collection of high-priced hardware.

Over the last two years, I’ve had the unparalleled opportunity to talk with hundreds of educators nationwide as I gathered input and feedback on the design of Discovery Education Experience, our recently launched K-12 learning platform.

Related content: Key components of the digital classroom

During these discussions, I learned that educators approach choosing multimedia resources for their students just as they design classroom lessons–they start with their end goals in mind. They ask probing questions like: What are we trying to accomplish with our presentation system? What sort of instructional environment are we trying to create? What do we want teachers to be able to do within the multimedia environment we are creating?

These are all important questions that need to be answered before you select a multimedia service. However, there are many more. Here are the four most interesting questions I’ve heard educators ask before they selected their own digital content for their multimedia presentation systems:

Does the multimedia content have the ability to instantaneously take students to places they have never seen? Educators can pique student interest while also engaging them deeper in a specific unit of study through virtual field trips. Through a virtual field trip, teachers can introduce students to people, places, and concepts they may not otherwise be exposed to. In addition, virtual field trips can be paired with research-based strategies to drive deeper learning.

One strategy, Vocabulary Scavenger Hunt, suggests that teachers preview academic vocabulary terms before engaging students in a virtual field trip. Then, students listen for one of the terms and clap once when they hear it. Teachers pause after each term is introduced to spark discussion around what they heard and how it was being used in context. Another strategy that can be integrated into lessons built around the virtual field trip is the Six Word Story, which challenges students to synthesize the content of a virtual field trip into a summary of six words. This strategy enables a quick summary of learning while also being thoughtful of word choice and vocabulary.

Does the multimedia content support literacy development? Educators across the board agree that multimedia content must support literacy, no matter the subject or discipline. One way digital content can support literacy is through closed captioning. Closed captioning offers an additional modality of print text when paired with a video’s visuals and audio. Most students find it difficult to ignore the text on the screen when a video is paired with closed captioning. This intentional use of text is critical to developing and reinforcing academic vocabulary while learning about any subject area. Additionally, video transcripts enable teachers to search for key phrases and make explicit connections from content being displayed to its text equivalent.

Does the multimedia content support project-based learning? As instructional goals shift towards more student-directed use of digital content, consider if the multimedia content you selected supports project-based learning. Educators selecting digital content should make sure their prospective resources include multimedia creation tools that enable students to research and organize evidence of learning as well as communicate ideas. Whether students are defending a hypothesis or sharing what they learned in a math exploration, enabling students to work together to create and share presentations with classmates supports often discussed 21st Century Skills development.

Does the multimedia content inspire as it saves teachers time? When investigating further ideas to incorporate digital content into you presentations, inspiration can often come from other educators’ creations. Resources like the Instructional Inspiration Channel within Discovery Education Experience save teachers time by offering over one thousand prebuilt multimedia presentation resources designed by teachers, for teachers. These lesson activities combine strategies like Six Word Story with specific subject area content to support all grade levels. Assigning students media paired with questioning techniques, discussion starters, and investigative prompts ensures that students are driven deeper into the instructional targets. In addition, since these resources are all teacher-tested, you know they work!

While these are just a sampling of the questions educators should ask about their prospective multimedia services, they also highlight some of the key features educators must look for as they consider the available resources. In the comments below, share the features you believe educators should look for in high-quality multimedia content.Kyle currently serves as Director, Instructional Innovation at Discovery Education and led the creation of the award winning Discovery Education Experience. After teaching elementary school and earning a master’s degree in Classroom Technology, Kyle has spent the past decade focused on empowering and inspiring educators in their use of digital media and technology. He is an adjunct faculty member at Wilkes University for whom he designed the Creating a STEM Culture Through Application graduate level course and codesigned Wilkes University and Discovery Education’s STEM Letter of Endorsement program.

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