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
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.