Producing Multimedia Elements

Once the content of the presentation is mapped out, you and your students can be- gin to consider what media elements might lend themselves to creating a complete learning experience. Inclusion of these elements will depend on the extent and qual- ity of the equipment available to you at your school, but as with any teaching endeavor, resourcefulness and creativity will take you past many of the technical limitations.


Text can include multimedia menus, navigation elements such as site maps, and con- tent. Text files are prepared using a word processing program such as Corel Word- Perfect or Microsoft Word. When creating text for multimedia, determine how much information will appear on one screen and how the related pages or links will fit to- gether. Text in presentations, such as a slide show using Corel Presentations or Microsoft PowerPoint (see Figure 14.2), should be key phrases and limited to small chunks of information. To format information effectively, keep the following techniques in mind:

  • Place text next to a graphic
  • Convert sentences with serial items to lists
  • Use white space to separate points
  • Use headings as content summarizers
  • Place complex information into tables
  • Millions of fonts are available from free shareware, CD-ROMs, and appli- cation software such as Corel DRAW. There are five basic font styles:

Serif. Small points called serifs cap the ends of most strokes. Times New Roman is the most common serif font.

Sans serif. Sans means without, so no points cap the strokes. Helvetica and Arial are the most common sans serif fonts.

Script. Fonts that mimic handwriting. Kaufman and Lucida Handwriting are examples.

Novelty. Fun and frivolous fonts not designed for large amounts of text. This type of font is used for logos and commonly appears in advertisements, especially bill- boards. Font collections offer many novelty fonts, especially ones for the holidays, such as Bones or Snowcaps.

Special purpose. Fonts that fill a specific need, such as the set of numbers printed at the bottom of your bank checks. They are used primarily for technical purposes.

When selecting a font color make sure there is a high contrast between text and the background. For example, use dark text on a light background or light text on a dark background. If the presentation will be projected, use light text and a dark back- ground. Projected colors tend to wash out.

Selecting a font size also depends on viewing distance. For individuals viewing a desktop monitor, use a font size of twelve or fourteen, but for younger children use a larger font size. For a group viewing a large screen from a distance, use font size twenty-two or twenty-eight, depending on the distance.

FIGURE 14.2       PowerPoint   quick  tips.

1.   Know your subject. Make sure you have all the facts at your fingertips.

2.   Speak with enthusiasm and be sincere.

3.   Organize your presentation logically. Start by telling the audience what you are going to tell them. End by telling them what you told them. Put the details in between.

4.   Make sure that your slides have a coherent, consistent look. (Use a template.)

5.   Create short titles that have meaning.

6.   Use bullets and write short statements that focus readers’ attention on the main points.

7.   Do not read the bullets; instead, talk about the details that support them.

8.   Use photos and charts to illustrate when they help you make a point.

9.   Use cute features such as transitions and animations sparingly.

10.    Provide a printout of your slides. If you hand them out at the beginning, the audience may even take notes.

Source: Solomon (2004, June). E-Communications 101. Technology and Learning,  24 (11), 56.




Graphics can include any visual component, even the artful representation of text. Graphics in a presentation should serve an instructional purpose rather than merely providing aesthetic decoration or clutter. A picture can show concepts that words can only hint at, illustrating relationships that might remain unclear with mere descrip- tions. Graphics can come from a number of sources and can include drawings, paint- ings, graphs, and photographs.

Clipping. Premade clip art graphics can be “clipped” from a CD collection or a sam- ple from another program and placed into your program. Although clip art is often a good place to start, especially for those who are hesitant to try their hand at creat- ing their own artwork, clip art can provide only a generic illustrative component. When using clip art, read the copyright information. If you are using a CD collec- tion, this information appears in the front of the image catalog. Some collections are copyright-free, without restrictions, and others state restrictions and prohibitions.

Drawing and Painting. Most integrated software suites contain some sort of a graph- ics program that allows you to create your own graphics. Painting programs provide a selection of tools that allow you to create pictures by assigning color attributes to the actual pixels that comprise the screen, similar to how you would use paint to cre- ate a picture on a canvas. The result is called bitmapped art. Drawing tools allow you to create illustrations by combining different line-based objects. These objects can be selected individually and moved around to be placed in any desired position (see Figure 14.3). These are called vector-drawn graphics.

FIGURE 14.3       Paint,   available   with   Microsoft Windows.

More advanced computer-aided design (CAD) software has carried the design of jet engines, automobile parts, circuit boards, tools, bridges, and homes to new heights of sophistication. Three-dimensional (3-D) graphics programs allow you to create 3-D images. Many 3-D tools are available that will create 3-D text and animate the image as well. Three-dimensional modeling tools allow you to place two- dimensional (2-D) objects into a virtual scene. Mathematica is an integrated technical computing system, which combines interactive calculation (both numeric and sym- bolic), visualization tools, and a complete programming environment. Mathematica allows you to create 2-D and 3-D graphics.

Screen Capture. Screen capture programs are utility tools. Most computers have the ability to capture screen shots. For example, most computers have a print screen op- tion. They allow you to capture any text or picture you see on a screen and save it as another file format. The captured image can very easily be cropped and edited. Some capture programs let you edit the image in various ways. You can add drop shadows, create a button, and even feather the edges.
Scanning. Scanning allows project designers to customize their presentation with a range of graphical elements. By using a flatbed scanner, you can convert any graphic into digital form that can be added to a multimedia presentation (see Figure 14.4).

FIGURE 14.4      Viviscan    DeskSaver scanner.

Traditional artwork, such as sketches and paintings, paper creations, magazine pictures, and even photographs, can be scanned in. If copyrighted graphics are used for a student learning opportunity, proper credit should be given to the original source, and if your presentation will have a potentially wide audience, first obtain permission to use copyrighted material.

Taking and Editing Digital Pictures. Digital cameras can be used to take pictures just like traditional cameras, but instead of recording the image on film, they save the image electronically (see Figure 14.5). These cameras can then be plugged directly into a computer and the images can be downloaded right onto the hard drive. Some cameras store the images on a removable disk. Pictures can be taken of students, fam- ilies, surroundings, special events, or anything else of particular interest. An excel- lent digital photography resource is located at This website offers tutorials and accurate information on selecting and using digital cameras. Price (2006b) encourages the use of Picasa ( for digital photo edit- ing. This free Google software enables students to use photos in their presentations and reports.