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Technology Integration:
Multimedia in Projects: About Multimedia and Project Development

Multimedia with CD's, Microphone, Video Camera, and Film GIF

Technology Integration is a four part series on essential questions, technology integration resources, web page design, and multimedia in projects.  Sections contain relevant opening essays and resources.

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Multimedia and Projects Essay


About Multimedia


Brain GifA combination of text, audio, animation, video, images/graphics, and interactivity define multimedia.  Each appeals to a human sense.  The degree and manner to which each is used has the potential to increase learning.  According to Szuprowicz, Fetterman, and Gupta, humans retain only 20% of what they see, from 20% to 30% of what they hear, and about 40% to 50% of what they both see and hear. And they can retain up to 80% of what they see, hear, and do at the same time (cited in Fluckiger, 1995, pp. 79-80).  But questions arise: What does retain mean?  It would appear that this retention pertains to long-term memory. How confident can we be in the accuracy of those percentages?  Such percentages or similar percentages are often quoted by promoters of multimedia.

Perhaps a better way to think of multimedia is to consider that sight is the main acquisition sense of humans, so adding images and video to text can exploit this sense.  Further, we retain sound better than images, so audio becomes an efficient way to acquire knowledge.  Using media that appeals to more than one sense, as long as content supports each sense and does not split attention, will increase memorization.  And finally, retention is aided, if the interactive element of practicing while seeing or listening is added to the mix (Fluckiger, 1995).  What we do know is that multimedia use changes the paradigm of learning from "standardization to customization" (Reigeluth, 1996, p. 14) to maximize the learning experience.

The mix of video, audio, and high quality graphics afforded by multimedia may grab the attention of students, particularly poor readers, in ways that traditional approaches to instruction would not (Kenworthy, 1993).  In multimedia environments, learners construct meaningful knowledge by "selecting words and selecting images from the presented material, organizing words and organizing images into coherent mental representations, and integrating the resulting verbal and visual representations with one another" (Mayer, 1997, p. 4).

More is not necessarily better, however.  In terms of the learning process, the selection of media should be based on the intended learning outcomes.  In its review of published studies from 1997 to 2007 on Multimodal Learning through Media, the Metiri Group led by CEO Cheryl Lemke (2008) noted that an optimal design for learning "depends on the content, context, and the learner." There are instances "where a student listens to narration or reads text about a topic" that might be better than engaging in collaboration (see, hear, and do) with others.  For example, "for the novice student engaged in basic skill building such as learning chemical symbols [or other basic facts as found in math], individual learning through reading or simple drill and practice might be the optimal learning design. Yet, for a different learning objective – for instance, understanding cause and effect of a specific chemical reaction – involving that same student in collaborative problem-solving with fellow students through a simulation might be the most effective learning approach" (p. 8).  "Optimizing learning for each student requires more fine-grained differentiation of instruction that takes into account – and leverages: ... how the brain functions, how people learn, and multimedia design. ... [Further,] the use of technology and multimedia, resources, and lessons can vary in the level of interactivity, modality, sequencing, pacing, guidance, prompts, and alignment to student interest, all of which influence the efficiency in learning" (p. 8).


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Integrating Multimedia into Instruction


Are you searching for ideas to use multimedia to enhance your curriculum and instruction?

Web Quest Search Gif -- Searching with a telescope  from a boat at sea

Multimedia Projects--Mathematics from Western Reserve Public Media lists several projects for learners in grades 3-8, complete with all you need to implement them, including videos:

  • Accessible Shapes-Geometry (Gr. 6)
  • Math and Science Gumbo (Gr. 3-6)
  • Big or Small: Measure it All (Gr. 3-8)
  • QuizBus: Dealing with Data (Gr. 3-8)
  • Phi 1.61803: Art in Math and Science (Gr. 5)
  • Masters of Gravity (Gr. 5-6)
  • Math nMotion (Gr. 8)

SimScience also is devoted to the use of computer simulations for discovery in science.

Do you know enough about copyright and fair use when using media in teaching or for projects?

Teachers need to ensure that they and their students do not infringe on copyright.  See the Copyright in Education Flowchart to help with decision making and to get started with exploring this topic.


The integration of multimedia into primary and secondary classrooms is in keeping with goals of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Standards for students and teachers.  In particular, student goals include that they use a variety of media and formats to communicate information and ideas effectively.  Related to this is that teachers demonstrate introductory knowledge, skills, and understanding of concepts related to technology, which would include development of multimedia competency.

Alessi and Trollip (2001) identified tutorials, drills, hypermedia environments, simulations, games, open-ended learning environments, and computerized testing as methodologies in which to incorporate multimedia for learning.

George Siemens (2003) discussed the strengths and weaknesses of various media formats and their roles in achieving outcomes, particularly in relation to an online learning environment.  In terms of text, audio, visuals, and video, he indicated the following:

Vivien Sieber and David Andrew (2003, p. 228) of the University of North London found students gained skills and used a range of intelligences when working with multimedia and the project method, which they linked to  Howard Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences:

Andrew Churches' educational origami website includes Gardner's Multiple Intelligences and ICT where Churches matches traditional approaches to each of the multiple intelligences with specific digital tools, strategies, and activities--a valuable contribution to those who are integrating media into their instruction.

Among conclusions regarding evidence for the effectiveness and impact of media and technology in K-12 schools around the world, Reeves (1998) stated that multimedia presentation software can support development of a wide range of student abilities, including research, time management, organizational, presentation, and reflective thinking skills.  However, Rupert Wegerif (2002, citing Lehrer, Connell, & Ericksen, 1992) indicated that teachers must model skills to be developed.  He elaborated on the thinking skills that learners need as designers of multimedia presentations:

Project Management Skills

  • creating a timeline for the completion of the project

  • allocating resources and time to different parts of the project

  • assigning roles to team members.

Research Skills

  • determining the nature of the problem and how research should be organized

  • posing thoughtful questions about structure, models, cases, values, and roles

  • searching for information using text, electronic, and pictorial information sources

  • developing new information with interviews, questionnaires and other survey methods

  • analyzing and interpreting all the information collected to identify and interpret patterns.

Organization and Representation Skills

  • deciding how to segment and sequence information to make it understandable

  • deciding how information will be represented (text, pictures, movies, audio, etc.)

  • deciding how the information will be organized (hierarchy, sequence) and how it will be linked.

Presentation Skills

  • mapping the design onto the presentation and implementing the ideas in multimedia

  • attracting and maintaining the interests of the intended audiences.

Reflection Skills

  • evaluating the program and the process used to create it

  • revising the design of the program using feedback (p. 27).


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Project Phases: Planning, Design, Development, Authoring


There are four phases in completing a project: planning, design, development, and authoring.


Planning a project requires knowing what you have available with which to work, including a budget and timeline.  In addition to hardware for capturing images and sound (e.g., flatbed scanner, digital camera for still images and/or video, microphone), you will need software for video, audio, and image editing, and an authoring tool for your project.  Paint and draw programs can be used to create and manipulate graphics.  Students might capture their own images with digital cameras.  They might scan their paintings and drawings for use in projects, or use clip art from the Web or from purchased clip art collections.  They might even scan images from their coloring books.

You should begin by listing hardware and software in your classroom and/or personal system for creating multimedia products. Include items relating to contact information to people who might provide technical assistance. Add tutorials and manuals that you have available and their locations.  Identify minimum systems requirements for the development of a multimedia project, and where you might find resources to upgrade your system, if needed.

In the planning phase, your team should also brainstorm project ideas, and then select one idea of merit that would be suitable for development within your classroom. One project idea for a math classroom is to have students develop a computer assisted learning module for a topic they are studying, which might be used to teach others. Describe the project in 50 words or less, which helps you to focus the scope and content of a project that you might actually accomplish within a specific time frame.  Now is also the time to gather potential subject matter resources and image/audio/video resources. These might include Web sites gathered from Internet searches.

Plan for the type of graphical elements to include.  For graphic elements, three factors shape the effectiveness of visuals: the goal of instruction, the learning landscape, and features of the graphic itself.  Graphics can serve communication functions or be based on psychological learning processes (Clark & Lyons, 2003). 

For example, Lloyd Rieber (1994) identified five uses of computer graphics.  On an affective level, graphics might be cosmetic and serve only as a decoration.  Graphics might be used to motivate and arouse curiosity.  On a cognitive level, graphics can be used to gain attention and focus learners on instruction.  They can be used to present and elaborate on a concept. They can be used to assist with practice and for visual feedback.

When used for communication, Ruth Clark and Chopeta Lyons (2003) noted seven functions of graphics for learning:

When considering which type of communications graphic to use, Clark and Lyons (2003) provided additional advice:

"In general, procedural instructional goals are best served by a combination of representational and transformational visuals to demonstrate procedures and to contextualize online simulation practice. Facts benefit from representational visuals and, when there are multiple facts, from relational and organizational graphics as well. Concepts can be taught with representational visuals as well as interpretive and organizational graphics. Processes benefit from transformational and interpretive graphics. Principle-based tasks can make use of representational visuals to show the job context in which the tasks will be performed as well as organizational, relational, transformational, and interpretive visuals."  (p. 2 online)


The primary problem in the design phase of a project is finding a balance between the learning that is to be acquired and the effective use of the multimedia to support learning.  Using your team's agreed-upon project goal, identify a sequence of steps to develop the project and assign tasks to team members.  For example, if the multimedia project is to create a short video, student tasks might be the producer, writer, director, editor, and so on.  Members should also agree, in business terms "sign-off," on the completion of each phase of a project.  You should develop a navigation structure with flowcharts and storyboards that fit the flowcharts, and a prototype of the project.

Storyboards are visual representations of what will be included on a screen.  There is no single way to create a storyboard, but one should be created for each screen and include thumbnail sketches and placement of all visuals (e.g., photos, clip art, videos) and corresponding text.  Storyboards should include associated audio scripts that will eventually be recorded.  Both written and audio scripts might take multiple drafts.  Include identifying information, such as a title, date, version number and the storyboard sheet identifying number (like a page number). Each storyboard should also include the filenames of specific audio, video, and graphic files that will be used, programming instructions and notes to the developer, and branching information (Beyer, 2005; Lee, Chamers, & Ely, 2005).  Beyer suggested using filenames that describe the content of the file, rather than using numbers, because this makes searching for files easier.

Seek permission from authors of copyrighted material that you might wish to incorporate in the project.  David Warlick ( of Landmarks for Schools has simple to use Permission Templates for this purpose, which will automatically go to the author or web master of the site you wish to use in instruction or for a school project.


During the development phase, your team will deal with the technical aspects of creating graphics, and capturing/editing audio and video.  It is here that the team will need to know about correct use of file formats (e.g., BMP, GIF, PICT, TIFF, EPS, JPG, JPEG, MPEG) and how to apply appropriate resolution and compression techniques (e.g., lossy vs. lossless) affecting file size.  For example, scanned images in high resolution for printing are often saved in TIFF format.  BMP (bit-map) is Windows based and typically used with line art.  GIF files are limited to 256 colors, a poor choice for photos.  GIF files are often used on the Internet for displaying images in low resolution.  JPEG includes several alternatives for the degree of compression.  You might practice scanning an image at different resolutions, noting the size of each file. This process helps you examine the time issue for successful project completion and storage requirements for files that you would like your students to create. It also impacts the amount of memory that you need on your hard drive for producing multimedia.


The final phase in the project model is authoring in which you put all the pieces together.  The authoring process has at least three components: mastery of the programming tools, gathering and learning the content, and instructional design and development. "Middle and secondary student-authors' efforts might be divided into tool mastery and content presentation using greatly informed instructional design" (Abramson, 1995, p. 10).  During this phase, the team will focus on screen design, selection of color, consistent use of a metaphor, icons, and navigation features, all of which will impact the overall look and ease of use of the project.  The team should "alpha" test the product and make revisions at each stage in the development and authoring process, before presenting a project as finished.  Certainly, students should rehearse any text they might be using to produce video and cue cards might be needed.  "Beta" testing or usability testing with learners who were not part of the development team will offer a fresh perspective on the product, point out problem areas, and provide recommendations for improvement, which the developers might not have observed.

On PowerPoint as an Authoring Tool

PowerPoint is a powerful authoring tool for students and educators for classroom projects and presentations.  Sometimes, however, authors fail to consider the audience perspective in their development.  Think ahead as you develop your presentation.  For example, Lynell Burmark (2012) noted that when presenting a concept that is new for an audience, begin with concrete examples, then move to the more abstract (p. 45).

Consider how would you answer the following questions:

PowerPoint slides outline the session, and contain key points to emphasize to an audience.  A primary concept is slides accompany a presentation, and do not just contain script to be read to an audience.  I have told students to imagine you are standing before an audience giving a presentation on your topic. The audience sees one slide at a time. They expect a smooth, logical presentation of your message as you progress from one slide to the next. Hence, presenters need good speaking skills, eye contact with the audience, and appropriate gestures and body language to maintain audience interest.  The emphasis in the authoring should be on the message to be delivered.  Glitzy slides with poor content are not valuable to an audience.

Slides can be used to demonstrate something visual that discussion cannot replicate and can incorporate all  multimedia types: graphics, audio and video, and hyperlinks to the Web.  Hyperlinks can be used to make the presentation non-linear.  As a classroom tool, PowerPoint can be used to post lectures for student review or for students who were unable to attend class.  Slides can easily be updated for additional presentations.  PowerPoint is also valuable as a tool to organize thoughts in preparation for writing a paper or an article.  PowerPoint can be used to develop interactive multimedia programs for self-paced individualized learning.

Each slide can contain a notes page.  Notes remind the presenter of what to say about the content of the slide and any bullet points provided.  The audience does not see these notes during the slide show, which the novice PowerPoint user might not know.  When adding content to the notes page for a slide, keep in mind that about 250 words fit in one text box in the notes section, single spaced with one blank line between paragraphs on each slide.  The text box size can be enlarged and the font size for notes can be changed.  All notes should fit inside the text box, however.  If you print your presentation for your benefit, each slide and its notes should print on a single page with roughly one inch margins all around—slide on top half, notes on bottom half.  Another caution that I have given students is the notes should accompany one slide only.  In other words, notes for slide 1 should not extend over to the notes section for slide 2, and so on.

To add page numbers to slides (e.g., perhaps in the lower right corner), select to VIEW the SLIDE MASTER of your presentation.  If you have customized your presentation, rather than using a pre-existing template, be sure slides are formatted consistently for a professional look, and that a viewer of your presentation will not get lost in your navigation structure.

An audience appreciates resources, references, contact information, and handouts used in the presentation.  As you develop a project that might have 15-20 slides or more, the references will grow.  A complete listing of resources and references used might be placed at the end.  Each time you include a new resource, it is easier to add it to the end of the presentation on those slides right away, rather than waiting until all slides are complete and then creating that cumulative list.  Audiences also appreciate a slide called Contact Information for questions, comments, or other feedback they might have.  The choice of what to include is up to the presenter, such as your name, work place or school, address (e.g., home, school, or work), telephone/fax, email, and URL of a personal or professional web site.  Finally, audiences appreciate handouts of the presentation slides so that they can place notes next to a particular slide.  Slides can be printed with or without the author's notes pages.  PowerPoint includes options for printing slides with lines for notes, or multiple slides on a page (e.g., four or six to a page).

Some presenters misuse PowerPoint.  The following tips would be useful in development and presentation.

If you use PowerPoint (or OpenOffice or PDF) as an authoring tool for presentations, consider sharing the presentation online either publicly or privately using the free resource at  PowerPoint can also be converted for storage online with Prezi, which is cloud-based presentation software with additional features to capture your audience.  Prezi also allows for online collaboration in developing presentations.

The Center for Teaching Excellence at the University of South Carolina also has 7 Tips for Designing and Delivering PowerPoint Presentations and additional resources for using PowerPoint in teaching.


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Tips for Multimedia and Accessibility


Don't forget about accessibility.

Friendly reminder GifA quick rule of thumb for making your multimedia project or presentation accessible to all is to synchronize your multimedia presentation with audio.  If your audience can't see the presentation, they must be able to hear it, or vice versa.

  • Caption audio or provide transcripts used in your videos so that deaf or hearing impaired students have access.  Also consider that in any setting with a lot of noise, all viewers benefit from text equivalents.
  • Remember PDF files can pose a problem for screen readers.  You can check accessibility within Adobe Reader.  Consider providing alternative electronic forms.
  • If your PowerPoint presentation is posted on the Web, consider learners who might need to use a screen reader to access the content.  Consider providing the presentation in HTML format, which can be interpreted by a screen reader.
  • Provide alternative text for online images, which screen readers can read and which appear when a mouse hovers over an online image.
  • Not every student can easily manipulate a mouse.  Provide keyboard access to content.
  •  Also do not assume all learners can navigate the internet successfully.  Many need to be taught how to search the Web with appropriate words/phrases and then to know how to determine whether content is authoritative or just opinion, particularly those with learning challenges.

DigitalGov includes Making Multimedia Section 508 Compliant and Accessible by Angela Hooker (2013).

DO-IT, a program from the University of Washington, has tips for making math and other content accessible to all.  Also see the Checklist for Making Projects Accessible to All Students.


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Tips for Projects in the Classroom


  1. Use the e-portfolio with your students as a way for them to provide evidence of their mastery of standards, or to showcase their work and accomplishments. Store each project in a single folder!

Store project files in a single folderMultimedia can be inserted into into your project documents two ways:

If you copy your project or presentation to another computer, you need to also copy all the multimedia files that you have inserted into your project.  Best advice--store each of your projects or presentations along with all multimedia files inserted in a separate folder  on your computer.  Then if you need to copy your presentation onto another computer, copy the source folder.  If you are presenting your project on a computer that does not have your development software on it, be sure to include the player for your presentation (e.g., PowerPoint player), as well.

See Assessment for resources for creating e-portfolios and storing those online.


Saving work often and making backups of it often are just good practices.  I recall a particular video that we had of one of our daughter's gymnastic meets, a one of a kind, that was lost forever because the disc on which it was stored was accidentally used to record something else.  This was a huge lesson learned about the need for backups.  I also recall having backups of a backup for really important documents, like versions of my dissertation as it was in progress.  So, imagine the woes of students who have worked diligently on projects only to have accidents erase important work or unexpected computer glitches make documents irretrievable.

  1. Consider ramifications of Murphy's Law.

Sandy Hayes (2007) provided advice when dealing with Murphy's Law: Anything that can go wrong, will.

  1. Consider using online storage and Web 2.0 tools for collaboration.

icloud offers 3GB of free online storage for your documents, images, and other files.  Access files from any computer.  You can also use the service to collaborate with others.

VoiceThread, which has made its premium account available to K-12 educators for free. “A VoiceThread is an online media album that can hold essentially any type of media (images, documents and videos).”  The beauty lies in the commentaries that people can add to the media using a mix of voice with a microphone or telephone, text, audio file, or video with a webcam.  This allows group conversations to be collected and shared in one place.  Even doodles can be added in feedback.  You can designate your media as public, private, or accessible by a select few, the latter of which is a good safety feature for students.

For a nominal fee, K-12 educators can ensure their students are collaborating in a secure and safe network by using the Ed.VoiceThread.  It’s a private space by default “for creating digital stories and documentaries, practicing language skills, exploring geography and culture, solving math problems, collaborating with other students, or simply finding and honing student voices.”  Plus, there’s an option to make those creations public.  Public sharing does tell students their creativity has added value. is a free online toolkit for working in groups, including for academic projects.  According to the Wiggio Team, "On Wiggio, you can share and edit files, manage a group calendar, poll your group, post links, set up conference calls, chat online and send mass text, voice and email messages to your group members. Each group member can define how they want to keep informed of group activity" (About Wiggio section, para. 3).

  1. If you are using mobile devices (e.g., iPad, iPod) in your project-based learning activities, consider the Classroom Do's and Don'ts by Tony Vincent at Learning in Hand.


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Abramson, G. (1995). Authoring systems and constructivist learning. HyperNexus: Journal of Hypermedia and Multimedia Studies, 5(3/4), 10.

Alessi, S. M., & Trollip, S. R. (2001). Multimedia for learning: Methods and development (3rd ed.).  Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Beyer, M. (2005, February). Storyboarding for reusable content. Advanced Distributed Learning.

Burmark, L. (2012). Three shots to caffeinate your presentations. T.H.E. Journal, 39(1), 45.

Clark, R., & Lyons, C. (2003, August 11). More than just eye candy: Graphics for e-learning: Part 1. Learning Solutions Magazine. Retrieved from

Deubel, P. (2006). Game on!: Game-based learning. T.H.E. Journal, 33(6), 30-33, 41. Retrieved from

Fluckiger, F. (1995). Understanding networked multimedia. New York, NY: Prentice Hall.

Hayes, S. (2007, March). Technology toolkit: Navigating the detours. National Council of Teachers of English: Voices from the Middle, 14(3), 60–62.

Kenworthy, N. (1993). When Johnny can't read: Multimedia design strategies to accommodate poor readers. Journal of Instruction Delivery Systems, 7(1), 27-30.

Lee, D., Chamers, T., & Ely, T. (2005).  Web-based training in corporations: Design issues. International Journal of Instructional Media, 32(1), 27-35.

Lemke, C., & Metiri Group. (2008). Multimodal learning through media: What the research says. Commissioned by Cisco Systems.  Retrieved from

Mayer, R. E. (1997). Multimedia learning: Are we asking the right questions? Educational Psychologist, 32(1), 1-19.

Reeves, T. C. (1998). The impact of media and technology in schools: A research report prepared for The Bertelsmann Foundation.  Available from 

Reigeluth, D. (1996, May/June) A new paradigm of ISD? Educational Technology, 36(3),13-20.

Rieber, L. P. (1994). Computers, graphics, and learning. Madison, WI: Brown & Benchmark. Retrieved from

Sieber, V., & Andrew, D. (2003). Learning technologies and learning theories. In C. Ghaoui (Ed.), Usability Evaluation of Online Learning Programs. Hershey, PA: Idea Group Inc.

Siemens, G. (2003). Evaluating media characteristics: Using multimedia to achieve learning outcomes. Retrieved from

Wegerif, R. (2002, September). Literature review in thinking skills, technology and learning. Bristol, UK: Futurelab Series. Retrieved from


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Binoculars GifSee other Technology Integration pages:

Part 4: Multimedia in Projects: Page 1   |  2  |  3  |   

Part 1: Essential Questions  |  Part 2: Technology Integration Resources  |   Part 3: Web Page Design