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Week 2: Reflecting upon & Evaluating Multimedia & Graphics

Reflecting Upon and Evaluating Multimedia and Graphics

At this point we need to look at examples of multimedia and graphics designed for learning and evaluate them applying principes we have learned in this course.


Post examples of multimedia and graphics that have been created for learning and discuss their strengths and weaknesses and how they can they might be improved. Feel free to use examples from the Internet or material that you have created. Let's keep this constructive!


Task Discussion

  • Steve O'Connor   Nov. 13, 2011, 2:17 p.m.

    I thought I'd share some multimedia that I contributed to Curriki including a multimedia presentation and a screencast.

    The presentation employs the Principle of Worked Examples (not covered by this course), along with signaling.

  • karen   Oct. 28, 2011, 10:56 a.m.

    So I messed up the recording of the open content webinar. (Somewhere there must have been an open mic, because there was echo in the recording even though there was no echo on the webinar itself.)

    The bright side is that this gave me an opportunity to produce a shorter and better version and to practice some of the multimedia skills I've learned here.

    Here are some thing I did that reflect thhgs we've been learning:

    • Tapping into both visual and audio channels
    • Limited extraneous content like coverage of fair use (We discussed this in the live session, but because there wasn't enough time to cover it in detail so it distracted from the central message, which was where to find open-licensed content.) Also, this presentation was condensed to 25 min. from the original hour.
    • Signaling - Preview and use of color and headings for cueing
    • Coherence - no background music (which I would have normally put in)
    • Personalization and voice (Like everyone, I hate my video and voice, but I'm conceding.:)

    Some things I would have done differently if I'd had more time and better tools:

    • Highlight parts of the web sites I was talking about
    • Crop out my browser and Windows tool bars (extraneous)
    • A few spoken mistakes that I would have re-recorded if I had more time... ah, well, that's the "human" element, I guess.:)

    One thing I'm not sure about was whether the pacing was too quick. I was balancing trying to keep this short with trying to get info in. Always a tough balance for me. I suppose that folks can use the pause/stop controls if needed.

    At any rate, hope you enjoy and learn something from this! Feel free to critique. I'd appreciate the input (and I do think the content of this is valuable).

  • Steve O'Connor   Oct. 31, 2011, 6:26 p.m.
    In Reply To:   karen   Oct. 28, 2011, 10:56 a.m.


    Thanks for posting. Beyond multimedia, the video covers very important content! I think the video is great and reflects many of the ideas from the course! 

    I see you included a webcam view of your narration. One idea I did not cover (sorry) was the Image Principle: "People do not necessarily learn better when a speakers image is added to the screen." (Mayer, Multimedia Learning). It seems to contradict the Personalization Principle, but Mayer hypothesizes that it creates split attention and extraneous processing. Research shows impact as minimal to slight.

    Eliminating the image would make it easier to make a screencast that focused on the material presented through the browser.

    Would Camatasia allow you to zoom in on portions of webpages or highlight specific elements?

    Great stuff!


  • karen   Oct. 31, 2011, 6:37 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Steve O'Connor   Oct. 31, 2011, 6:26 p.m.

    Camstudio or Camtasia would allow for zooming in, but I could only manage that if someone else here were doing it. (I can just barely coherently talk and navigate web sites and slidesat the same time.) Of course, if could be done in post-production...but that gets into the time issue we've talked about it other posts.

    At any rate, glad I could bring out another principle to be aware of. :)

    Would you think that not shohwing a web cam view during a webinar is also more effective? I've always heard the opposite.

  • Steve O'Connor   Oct. 31, 2011, 8 p.m.
    In Reply To:   karen   Oct. 31, 2011, 6:37 p.m.

    I think webinars are different. Social cues are more important. A webinar is much more social than a presentation and you handle that well.

    I'm going to explore my post-production workflow--especially with screencasting software. A few tweaks might make a difference.

  • Steve O'Connor   Oct. 26, 2011, 4:51 p.m.

    Here's one of my multimedia creations. Like the other presentations I have linked to this site, it will take a minute or so to play properly after the first image appears. Feel free to criticize it.

    Chinese History Timeline

    Here's my critique of it:

  • Steve O'Connor   Oct. 22, 2011, 6:41 p.m.

    Salman Khan has created a lot of instructional multimedia published on YouTube and his Khan Academy Site. I have embedded his video Division. In terms of what we have learned about multimedia and graphics, what are its strengths and weaknesses?

  • Bryan   Oct. 24, 2011, 4:42 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Steve O'Connor   Oct. 22, 2011, 6:41 p.m.

    I am curious to know what he is using to write? Tablets are not so friendly when it come to good handwriting.



  • Christina Paulk   Oct. 24, 2011, 6:29 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Steve O'Connor   Oct. 22, 2011, 6:41 p.m.

    He is very natural in his delivery and is obviously knowledgeable of the content.    He provides multiple examples to give the learner a better understanding of the concept he is delivering.  This is critically important in math!  One example just is not enough!  He makes connections to previous lessons and introduces potentially new information (remainder of one example) to challenge one’s thinking when applying the concept learned.  I love the neon marker look on black which is visually appealing as well as easier for certain learners to view with visual discrepancies.   It easily facilitates instructions for him to be able to quickly change between these colors, move his entire illustration on the board, erase mistakes, and freely manipulate the drawings.  One weakness that I have noticed in other video lessons that was not present in this one is lack of instructional planning.  It has been quite obvious on a couple of examples that he had not previously chosen the math equations he was going to share in the video lessons.  This certainly distracted from the delivery because he literally scribbled out the mistake asking us to ignore it, then finally erased it.  As a student, I may have become very disoriented by that and would have needed redirection to regain my focus... especially if this were a mathematical concept that I was truly struggling with on my own.  Although the initial part of his presentation was flawless, I think I would have either scrapped that lesson and redone the video or tried to edit out the error.  I’m not sure what options were available.

  • Steve O'Connor   Oct. 24, 2011, 9:25 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Bryan   Oct. 24, 2011, 4:42 a.m.

    I think he uses a tablet. I have learned to write pretty legibly with a tablet myself. It does take practice and care.

  • karen   Oct. 24, 2011, 11:41 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Steve O'Connor   Oct. 24, 2011, 9:25 a.m.

    Yes, I think it's a tablet. I've used that as well as an interactive white board.

  • karen   Oct. 24, 2011, 11:53 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Christina Paulk   Oct. 24, 2011, 6:29 a.m.

    Interesting point about instructional planning. Check out these math videos from Karl Fisch (also open licensed) as a contrast. (Also downloadable here if your school blocks YouTube.)

    What do you think?

  • Steve O'Connor   Oct. 24, 2011, 3:45 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Steve O'Connor   Oct. 22, 2011, 6:41 p.m.

    One of my gripes with Sal's screencasts is the lack of planning. It is particularly easy to skew a problem set without at least planning the problems ahead of time.

    I notice the focus on production and polish. Realistically as a teacher who has created several hundred multimedia artifacts, too much focus on production and polish would have kept me from delivering the goods. As an educator teaching live classes daily, my focus has been on work flow and quality of pedagogy. The multimedia I created for this course could be construed as lacking polish (they certainly do lack polish), but they are focused on reflecting the learning I have accrued having read Mayer, Clark, Swiller, and many other. (If you want to see a real lack of polish look at their research papers and books).

    I'd like to refocus the discussion on what this course is about--learning theory as applied to multimedia. What principles does he do well with? Where could it be improved (through the prism of the ideas presented in this class)?

  • Sam   Oct. 26, 2011, 5:07 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Steve O'Connor   Oct. 22, 2011, 6:41 p.m.

    The colors definitely helped keep things straight for me.  The pictures of himself and "us" were well done, and I thought helped keep the presentation somewhat personal rather than purely sterile and academic.

  • Steve O'Connor   Oct. 26, 2011, 5:10 p.m.
    In Reply To:   karen   Oct. 24, 2011, 11:53 a.m.

    I'm very impressed by Karl Fisch's video. 

    • Coherence principle in that there really no extraneous content. The layout is neat and uncluttered.
    • Modality principle in that he provides images of the mathematical procedures employing the visual channel and describes the process through the audio channel.
    • Segmenting Principle: prompts user to control the pace by pausing the video
    • Personalization Principle: He generally uses informal language using us, we, and you.

    It is well planned and clear.

  • Steve O'Connor   Oct. 26, 2011, 5:22 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Sam   Oct. 26, 2011, 5:07 p.m.

    Khan uses the personalization principle well, but he definitely violates the coherence principle by drawing pictures unrelated to the learning objectives. My students find his repetiveness when speaking distracting and, at times, even annoying.  In general, the use of colors reflects good use of signaling.

  • Sam   Oct. 26, 2011, 5:28 p.m.
    In Reply To:   karen   Oct. 24, 2011, 11:53 a.m.

    I found that he went too quickly for me to understand what he was doing and how he was doing it.   The equations were clearly written but for me some more visual cues concerning the process would have been helpful.

    Coherence was definitely present

    Modality was there as he illustrated while speaking.

    Segmenting was only present in the self check section at the end.  This hindered my comprehension of the project.  In a regular class my hand would have gone up a number of times.

  • Steve O'Connor   Oct. 26, 2011, 5:53 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Sam   Oct. 26, 2011, 5:28 p.m.


    Re: Karl Fische

    In retrospect, I agree with your point about segmenting. I think the lesson could be improved by breaking the steps down further than a line by line algebraic progression. This would also force a slower pace.

    As far as visual cues, perhaps the use of color (signaling) to highlight particularly important parts of the work would better direct the learner's attention.

    Great comments!


  • Karl Fisch   Oct. 29, 2011, 6:50 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Steve O'Connor   Oct. 26, 2011, 5:53 p.m.

    Hi Steve, Sam, Karen, and everyone. Thanks for letting me chime in. Just a few clarifying points to give you a better picture of why I made some of the choices I did (not that they were always the right choices).

    1. When I started creating these videos YouTube had a 10-minute limit. So I didn't really have much choice to go slower unless I wanted to split it up into multiple videos (which I did one time with "Slope" because I couldn't figure out any way to do it in less than 10 minutes).
    2. Even if I didn't have a 10-minute limit (and YouTube has now lifted that limit), I would try to keep it to under 10-minutes because any longer than that is really pushing it to expect students to watch it. If students watch it "correctly", even a 10-minute video is going to take them about 20 minutes.
    3. I thought about adding callouts or other enhancements to point out really important features but decided not to for two reasons. First I was worried about overwhelming the students with too much information - I was trying to keep these simple and basic. Second, more selfishly, was the time factor - doing all that post-production would've at least doubled the time it took for each video. They were taking about 1.5-2 hours each to do, with a total of about 50 of them, and I just couldn't invest any more time in them at this point (only teaching one section in addition to my existing full-time technology director job). Check out the work of Aaron Sams and Jon Bergmann for videos that include more enhancements that they believe really do help their students.
    4. A key thing to keep in mind with my videos is how they are being used - they are not the primary instruction. Students watch them after the inquiry and exploration in class, as a way to solidify the algorithmic processes. So, theoretically, they have plenty of opportunities to "raise their hand" as we delve into these topics before even getting to the videos. Theoretically.
    5. I also demo for students at the beginning of the year how to watch the video, which includes suggestions for pausing the video throughout when necessary (either in the examples section and especially in the guided practice section), trying to get them to control the pace a bit more. I'm not always successful in getting them to do that, of course, which is one of the issues of trying to use these videos.

    For more on my thinking as I was deciding how to do this, see this post.

    I'm adding these thoughts not in a "defensive" fashion, but just to try to give the bigger picture of how I'm attempting to use these videos. I still have lots of questions and concerns about the use of video in this manner, but I still believe it to have some benefit when used after inquiry and exploration (I have many more qualms in terms of using it as the primary instruction).

  • karen   Oct. 29, 2011, 6:58 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Karl Fisch   Oct. 29, 2011, 6:50 p.m.

    Interesting points, Karl. Thanks for writing. It's useful to hear the thought behind things.

    Two points you made really resonate with me.

    #2 - Short chunks are better. I've always heard that 5-7 minutes was the max for effective instructional videos.

    #3 - Post-production time - I feel the same about a lot of videos I make. Sometimes the time to make things a little better isn't worth it (or just isn't there). Oftentimes, I'd rather create more or spend more time working with folks than fine tune stuff to death. I think a lot about these tradeoffs though.

    Anyway, we love your videos (hope you saw all the positive comments ;). Thanks for sharing them.

    (PS Missed you on Bud's webinar the other night, but appreciated your materials and had fun agonizing over writing about slope. :)

  • Karl Fisch   Oct. 29, 2011, 7:08 p.m.
    In Reply To:   karen   Oct. 29, 2011, 6:58 p.m.

    Yeah, saw the postive stuff, too. Again, wasn't trying to be defensive.

    Believe me, I would've much rather been in the webinar. Our daughter was at Outdoor Ed up in Estes Park and we got a call she was sick, so headed up to get her - straight into a major winter storm. Ended up getting there eventually, got her, then promptly got stuck. Stayed the night up there then made it back home late the next day.

  • karen   Oct. 29, 2011, 7:24 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Karl Fisch   Oct. 29, 2011, 7:08 p.m.

    Eek. Hope everything worked out ok, Karl.

    One thing these massively intertwining discussion threads has emphasized to me is the value of including references, e.g. who you are talking to and what you are referencing. The thread here started out about Khan videos. Then I introduced your (Karl's :) videos as a contrast. After that, comments were made about both, and I wasn't always sure who was talking about which.

    This p2pu stuff is all a delightful learning experience at any rate! (And Karl, as a participant, if you get deluged with notifications via email, you can go into your profile and turn notifications off. We're happy to have you hear, but don't want to drive you crazy. Ha ha. We are working on a way to let non-participants join the conversation, but it isn't quite there yet.)

  • Steve O'Connor   Oct. 30, 2011, 1:07 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Karl Fisch   Oct. 29, 2011, 6:50 p.m.


    Your instructional videos are top notch. Certainly better than mine. Your point about time is well taken and well understood by this classroom teacher. I've created several hundred multimedia instructional artifacts and I know well that you sometimes have to crank material out and go on. 

    The instructional screencasts I have made, like yours, are intended for reinforcement beyond classroom instruction. If a particular lesson seems difficult for the students, sometimes I'll fire up a screencasting application, whip out the tablet and headset and go at it. I have found that having some prepared text or graphics pre-made makes the video better and the lesson goes more smoothly. You have taken it to the next level by having the lesson thoroughly planned in advance.

    My intent in the course is not to have teachers create top notch polished multimedia. I think that would be nearly impossible for a classroom teacher. I have noticed that having learned the research on effective multimedia has helped me improve, often in small ways, the quality of my multimedia. Many of the ideas here represent subtle shifts and, perhaps, reminders of what may already be obvious. Sometimes I can revisit my multimedia and tweak them before reuse.

    Thanks for chiming in! It's great to have the input of such a skilled instructional multimedia craftsman.



  • Patricia Mosset   Oct. 30, 2011, 9:47 p.m.
    In Reply To:   karen   Oct. 24, 2011, 11:53 a.m.

    In the article posted in the previous task, More Than Eye Candy, they discussed the need to highlight and draw attention to the area of interest.  This really struck me as an important piece of information that I have been missing in my videos.  As I watched Karl Fisch I also thought about this little tid bit being added to the math video.  Would it help the student stay focused if the current step was in a different color? 

  • Steve O'Connor   Oct. 31, 2011, 5:44 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Patricia Mosset   Oct. 30, 2011, 9:47 p.m.

    Easily implemented little tweaks like these can improve learning significantly. As we become more conscious of these principles they can add up to big improvements.