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Multimedia

March 22, 2007

Quick. You’ve been asked to teach an 8 week, 3 credit course called “Multimedia” to working adults pursuing bachelors degrees in organization and leadership. What do you do?

Seriously, what do such people need to know about multimedia? And what is meant by multimedia, anyway? Here’s the description of the class:

ORLE 179.Multimedia 3 sem.hrs.
Integration of multiple media sources into effective desktop or Web-based presentations. Preparation of text, animation, graphics, sound, photo images and video components for incorporation in multimedia projects. Creation of several multimedia projects. Prereq:PRST 29 (intro to information systems).

Given that, here are a few ideas for the syllabus off the top of my head:

  • How to effectively use Powerpoint, Keynote or other presentation managers.
  • How to edit images for electronic display and print.
  • How to edit video for the web and make DVDs.
  • How to create web sites, blogs, etc.
  • How the web is different from other media and what unique opportunities/challenges it presents.

Several ideas for reading material also come to mind. The Cluetrain Mainfesto; Small Pieces Loosely Joined; Don’t Make Me Think; Gates, Jobs & the Zen Aesthetic; my own humble write-up on guerilla portraiture.

These may not all be realistic, but it’s a starting point to get me thinking. Above all, I would like to use texts that are highly relevant and very practical. I also have an evaluation copy of Multimedia Basics by Suzanne Weixel, Jennifer Fulton and Bryan Morse coming. So maybe that’ll help.

I’ll be working on this for a while, as the class doesn’t begin until June 2nd. If you have ideas, just shout ’em out, folks. What do you wish you knew about multimedia? What are the most valuable things you know about it already that you want to make sure students learn?

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  1. You’ve touched on much of what I’d want to learn. I have a friend, who, when he has time, is going to show me how to use PP as well as Excel and the full capabilities of Word. I can only teach myself so much before I run into something I need help figuring out. About the only thing I could add, would be, maybe a course on the basics of HTML. Good start, Scott!


  2. Thanks, that’s reassuring. I think “the basics of HTML” will be covered in “how to make web sites,” but it really all depends on the details. I can teach someone basic HTML in one really focused hour, but the utility of such knowledge is sketchy unless you’re employed as a web developer. On the other hand, knowing basic HTML is what makes me able to italicize, bold and strike-through – to say nothing of changing color and size. So maybe there’s something worth knowing in that.


  3. I wouldn’t really worry too much about HTML. With WYSIWYG editors and content management systems, people in their positions won’t really need to know it to make websites.

    I would try to stress that different types of media are better suited for different types of information-
    Powerpoint for highly organized and structured information, video for when you want to communicate lots of nonverbal information, blogs to build relationships, etc.

    Remember, the medium is the message


  4. Great ideas so far, although like djheru said, I probably would focus more on WYSIWYG editors and the construction of a site over HTML.

    And I like the presentation graphics bullet point a LOT, most people suck at creating presentations, they wind up being a series of bullet points.

    I would probably also add the following:

    Basics of graphics editing and photo touchup
    How to use a scanner
    Basics of video

    I guess I am thinking a couple of short segments on the basics of content, with the lion share being content MANAGEMENT.


  5. Interesting. Should someone taking this course really know HOW to do these things? Or simply understand them? As you’ve mentioned, Scott, you can only teach/learn so much about this stuff in a short amount of time. There are lots of applications that make doing the work much easier. But, as I have seen as a video editor, just cause someone can do it, doesn’t mean its good. Content should still rule.

    Have fun!


  6. The goal of having these kinds of students actually do some of these multimedia development tasks isn’t to make them experts, it’s to give them a “paradigmatic experience,” as it were; a frame of reference from which they can know what kinds of things are possible, and better understand what other people in their organizations are doing.

    In the case of Powerpoint, however, that we can shoot for serious practical skills on. Everyone with a degree in organization & leadership should be able to make a visually compelling slideshow to accompany a presentation.

    As far as good content, that’s a given. But this isn’t photo journalism or broadcast comm. It’s more about how and when to produce these things, rather than what to produce.



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