Easy multimedia

A quick trip over at one of my favourite sites, Interactive Narratives, lead me to VuVox, a Web 2.0 multimedia authoring tool that stole my attention for about a half an hour.  There could be lots of useful applications of  tools like this in higher ed, in particular where multimedia development resources might be stretched, or where there is a desire for students to tell a story, explain, show understanding, or even synthesize in a multi-layered, dynamic way.  Robin Good provides a nice overview/how to on the tool

visualization tool plus plus and amazing instructional design

Two great new discoveries this week…

Via downes, VUE is an open source application that pushes the envelope in the visualization/concept mapping department.  I have a  few projects that can take advantage of the ability to link nodes to local or public files, display images, and allow tagging and categories to be assigned.  Again, it passed the 2 minute tool test, and some of the more advanced features are well described and demonstrated on the Features page.

The other item making the rounds in the Canadian Copyright world is an astounding piece of work from Appropriation Art.   Not only is the topic one that is of concern/interest to me, but that aside, it’s a brilliant example of great instructional design.  Obviously the visual narrative form (with embedded links to perspectives of others) is well suited to addressing any type of debate, but I’m thinking of ways this could be used for case studies or historical descriptions for a variety of disciplines.  

interactive narratives

I came across the interactive narratives site about 3 or 4 years ago and have continued to visit it regularly–it offers compelling multimedia presentations on huge variety of topics, and I can easily lose an hour in it. I’ve always thought that these interactive narratives were the closest thing to how I conceptualized an educational ‘learning object’ (remember those?) since they accomplish many things that educators hoped that multimedia learning objects could provide–interesting, interactive, multimodal presentations of content. The narratives on this site constitute some fantastic uses of Flash coupled with good graphic design, 2 things that tend to be out of reach for most instructors at many institutions. The pachyderm project does a great job of making this idea more accessible, but to date Canadian Polytechnic is not signed up.

Along the same lines, I continue to be impressed with Yale’s Cardiothoracic imaging site, which in my view is one of the best educational examples of what a ‘learning object’ could or should be. I first came across this site in about 2000 when, as a digital media intern at a local university, I was asked to find examples of multimedia learning objects. This site judiciously combined great graphics, audio, 3d animation, video, and text in a meaningful and well thought out way. Case in point here, where graphic, 3d imaging, and text combine or here, which uses a simple rollover graphic and makes available the actual reference xray image in combination with text. Cases are also included in the index, with this one providing audio (that doesn’t simply read the text notes), and a more detailed zoomed image. I see that the site won an award in 2005, and I’m incredibly happy that the developers are so open in their CC licensing about making it available and usable to all.

Teaching wikis, blogs, RSS, and social bookmarking

I want to pass on a great resource for instructors who need to explain wikis, blogs, RSS, Google Docs, social bookmarking and other such tools to their students. Common Craft have created some of the most effective, to-the-point, and entertaining instructional videos I’ve ever seen; many of the topics they address in their unique, short videos fall squarely under the ed tech category:

All of these tools are easy to use but, admittedly, can be hard to describe. Common Craft completely demystifies them. Have a look: