Monday, October 26, 2009

Multimedia Post

1. Reflections on the process of learning about the tool
It was quite a simple task after I followed the trailfires and then went to visit the Animoto website. I watched some sample videos and then quickly created my user account. Creating the account was just as quick as when I created an account for my WikiRecipes. I had no difficulty navigating the site and following the steps in creating my video. I straightway went to Picasa 3 on my desktop and uploaded some of the pictures I had taken when I went to the Muttart Conservatory this past summer.

It was then time to move to step 2, adding the music. I had a lovely song that I wanted to use as for the background, but, when I got Animoto’s warning as to the copyright issues, I decided to choose from their list that they had available. So, I searched and searched until I found a song that was quite fitting with the theme of the pictures that I had uploaded. It was like searching for a diamond in the rough, but it was worth it. I chose the song Indescribable by Chris Tomlin. I had heard it once before, maybe about three weeks ago when I went to a worship service and I thought what a beautiful song that was describing God’s magnificent creation.

Anyway, after those two short steps, I hit the finalize button and waited a few minutes for the video to be created. The finalize button, did throw me off track though, for, as I watched the sample videos created with Animoto, I thought that the creator of the video (myself in this case) would be the one to choose the animation and slide transition that they wanted shown in the video. Alas, this was not the case; maybe that option is available after purchasing the space to create a full length video, although nothing on the website implies that. A few days have passed and I am still the only viewer of my Animoto video, so I decided to post it to my Facebook account; I am sure many of my friends who have noticed a marked decline in my status updates will be checking out the video even as I write. It was a great experience using Animoto, the two regrets I had were that I couldn’t do a free video that was longer than 30 seconds and that I wasn’t able to do the animation myself.

With regards to Voicethread, I can’t truly speak of the process of learning with the tool, even though I did create an account and explored the whole voicethread experience, it was incomplete. I had difficulties with separating the picture that I wanted to talk about and uploading an image that represented me. I first uploaded the picture of a sunset and talked about the picture for about two minutes, then I realized it was saved as my identity and not for the thread. So, I uploaded a picture of me – my identity, and then uploaded a set of sunset pictures. By this the vocal juices had stopped flowing so I just added a comment to the picture. I sent it to some of my friends, but since they haven’t commented on it, I figure I needed to have sent some explanation along with the thread; or maybe if I had sent the one that I had original voiced over talking about the sunset I would have evoked some response. Till then I am still learning about voicethreads.

2. Discussion of the tool in terms of my own personal learning
Last week I started this discussion by saying "Of all the tools that we have been/will be introduced to in this course, I must say I am most familiar with wiki", this week I could say exploring multi-media has been most fun. While I do remember being informed of Animoto in a presentation, I must say that I am least familiar with the how to of Voicethreads. This week we explored multi-media sharing sites and all the bells and whistles that comes it.

As a student I would be less inclined to use Animoto as I just view it as delivering video and sound, which may not be suited for most of my school presentations. I remember an Animoto video that I viewed this week that was created by a academic conference organizer to give a feel of what the conference would be about. That has just caused me to think on how the future of conferences could be enhanced by Web2.0 technologies. Who knows, maybe five years down the road (or less), posters will be a thing of the past for academic conferences, and electronic boards with one or two minutes "research trailers" will be the norm. Voicethread would be more useful for me as a student. It can allow group members to engage in meaningful discussion on a topic or an issue. The ability to use multiple means of commenting makes Voicethread more inclusive and allows learners the flexibility of communicating in ways they feel most comfortable. In certain instances I would prefer using text to share my comments (as my voice does not sound like I thought it did), but in instances where I would have a lot of information to share with the group, commenting with audio may be the best option.

For sure Animoto comes in quite handy for creating and sharing videos of family and friends. The name Animoto is well suited as it gives some life to still pictures and uses sound to amplify them. I see how Voicethread too would be a great tool for me as an individual. I spoke last week of my high school reunion that is currently in the making with Facebook being the meeting ground. Since recently my classmates have been digging up old photos that we took while in high school and posting these pictures on their profile – which has generated many comments and laughs (lol). I think using Voicethreads to reminisce about some of these photos would be a way of capturing not just the past (our high school memories) but the present (our comments and present identities). I tried but didn’t find a way to embed Voicethreads in Facebook, but if it can work (which I am still researching) that’s the route I will take when I get a hold of my high school pictures after visiting Jamaica next January.

3. Discussion of the tool in terms of teaching and learning
Multimedia, as defined by Wikipedia can either be a noun or an adjective, it “is media and content that uses a combination of different content forms”(Wikipedia, 2009); it is “the seamless digital integration of text, graphics, animation, audio, still images and motion video in a way that provides individual users with high levels of control and interaction. The evolution of Multimedia is a story of the emergence and convergence of these technologies” (Barabash & Kyllo, 2009). Wikipedia’s description of multimedia being a noun or an adjective has caused me to stop and think a while. In education circles multimedia is embraced as an adjective that describes what a student-centered classroom is all about. But then can all multimedia be described as multimedia, and are multimedia created equal? I would place multimedia on a continuum with the two anchors being passive and interactive.

Passive Multimedia
Shank (1994) relates how many educational software programs provide a passive experience for the students, as to a large extent, they mimic what occurs inside the classroom. He describes many of these programs as having a “page-turning architecture or “change channel” capabilities. Students were only required to press buttons (next, back or home) and that was as interactive as it got. Even with all the glitters of these programs the classroom still depicted a non student-centered approach as students would now for a fraction of the time, turn their attention from the teacher at the front of the classroom to the “multimedia” at the front of the classroom.

Since Shanks’ article has been written, great strides have been made in the functionality of educational software. Friedland, Hurst & Knipping (2008) posits “Web2.0 phenomena such as Youtube leads us to suspect that multimedia now will play an even greater significant role” than did earlier 1990s educational web technologies. While the tools of the early 1990s did include text, graphics, audio and animation, they for the most part lacked interactivity, thus prompting Shank’s description of the page-turning and change channel functionality of these programs. Shank(1994) further described “creating educationally effective multimedia programs means taking seriously the idea of learning by doing. Good educational software is active, not passive, and ensures that users are doing, not simply watching”.(p.69). This leads me to the next anchor of the multimedia continuum - interactive multimedia.

Interactive Multimedia
Vaughan (1998) gets to the heart of the matter stating "when you allow an end user -- the viewer of a multimedia project -- to control what and when the elements are delivered, it is interactive multimedia".(as cited in Neo & Neo, n.d., para. 2). When educational software within the classroom allows students to interact with the technology then this interaction will allow students to "learn by doing". That being said, interactive multi-media accommodate a number of learning styles that may be present in any one classroom.

In my opinion, Animoto is closer to the passive end of the continuum while Voicethread is closer to the interactive end. Voicethread allows the student (user) to interact with the technology and not just look, listen and learn. When I saw Alex’s Voicethread on a Halloween story, I immediately thought of how Voicethreads could be used for teaching foreign languages. His story was written in French and even though I could read the French (as I would English) the audio in the thread informed me of how to pronounce the words (which was somewhat different from English). Voicethread provides an avenue for not only formal but informal learning to take place, I didn’t notice there was someone in the window of Alex’s haunted house until someone else mentioned it.

On his website, Thomas Armstrong postulates "the theory of multiple intelligences also has strong implications for adult learning and development. Many adults find themselves in jobs that do not make optimal use of their most highly developed intelligences (for example, the highly bodily-kinesthetic individual who is stuck in a linguistic or logical desk-job when he or she would be much happier in a job where they could move around, such as a recreational leader, a forest ranger, or physical therapist). The theory of multiple intelligences gives adults a whole new way to look at their lives, examining potentials that they left behind in their childhood but now have the opportunity to develop through courses, hobbies, or other programs of self-development". Adult educators usually provide adult learners with more opportunities to express their learning using their preferred intelligences to articulate their thoughts, albeit without digital multimedia as we know it, as the experience of these learners are highly valued. K-12 educators should also provide these highly interactive and multiple learning opportunities for young learners too, as they too enter the classroom with their own experience and their learning preferences.

Barabash, C. & Kyllo, J. The history and development of multimedia: A story of invention, ingenuity and vision. Retrieved from
Friedland, G., Hurst, W. & Knipping, L. (2008). Educational Multimedia. Multimedia, IEEE ,15 (3). pp.54-56. Retrieved from

Golshani, F. (2008). The All-in-One Box. Multimedia, IEEE , 15(3). pp.1-1. Retrieved from

Neo, M. & Neo, T.K. Innovative teaching:Integrating multimedia into the classroom in a problem-based learning (PBL) environment. Multimedia University,Malaysia. Retrieved from

Schank, R.C. (1994). "Active learning through multimedia," Multimedia, IEEE. 1(1). pp.69-78.Retrieved from


  1. A great song choice for your Animoto presentation. I too think that I will not be using Animoto much as a teaching tool but it was fun to play with.

  2. Although you were disappointed at not having more creative freedom with the editing of the Animoto video I liked the resulting video. It was interesting for me to see your example, which had a very different tone than my Animoto video many blogs ago. My song was faster, and the images were to create a narrative, and a sense of mystery. Yours was more reflective and transitioned accordingly. I think the creativity comes in the image selection combined with the song that we think is the perfect match. You did say you took your time to get the right song/feeling. The genius part of Animoto is how the song choice is programmed to fit the transitioning. On Animoto they said no two videos are alike. I did two versions of the same song with the same photo images and they did turn out differently, but both versions suited the timing of the song. I think this application in the classroom would really get students excited. Each student would feel success with it (I think that's Animoto's angle, delivering a polished product that makes the user look skilled), and perhaps it would just be the start of them wondering what more they could do with more artistic freedom to create with video. Animoto is a good place for students to start that type of imagining around composing moving images.