The addition of multi-media to online courses is a critical component of creating and establishing a dynamic learning environment, and can help to foster a postive relationship between the teacher and the student. By using audio or video as a communication tool, in a weekly message, the teacher is making a more personal impact on the student. No longer an anonymous face behind a keyboard, a personal video or audio message adds to the personalization of the course.
These dynamic tools are valuable resources for creating media and graphics for use in online courses. Many are free, or come loaded on new computers. These media files can be saved and archived within a course, or can be sent to students one-at-a-time to provide specific directions or feedback on a particular assignment. Each school jurisdiction - and often different school within that jurisdicition - will have access to a different set of tools. Many tools are appropriate for teachers as well as students to use.




Audio

  • Audacity
    • Free audio creator, mixer and editor to create/edit music and podcasts
    • Can create multiple audio files (MP3, WAV)

  • GarageBand
    • Audio creator and editor, available with the iLife suite (MAC)
    • MIDI creator and editor for music files



Video

  • MovieMaker
    • Inclded with Windows-based PCs
    • Video editing capability
    • Webcam-compatible

  • PhotoStory
    • Free download from Microsoft
    • Used for slideshows / visual stories
    • Can record and attach audio, narration, built-in-music

  • iMovie
    • Create movies and videos
    • Intuative, simple controls
    • Included with MACs

  • Jing / JingPro
    • Create video screencasts with audio and upload them to a hosted webpage, post to a LMS, or send in an email.
    • Generate tutorials of common processes. Show complicated processes in a clear manner
    • Jing is Free, JingPro is $14.95/year



Images

  • Jing / JingPro
    • Create screencaptures
    • Add simple text and highlighting
    • Jing is Free, JingPro is $14.95/year

  • SnagIt
    • Create screencaptures and some photo editing abilities
    • Add text, highlights and directions to an image
    • Easy-to-use photo editing abilities
    • 30-day Free trial / $49.95

  • PowerPoint
    • Easy to use, comfortable to access
    • Non-traditional means of designing imgaes and graphics

Research

Anderson, S.P. (2009). In defense of eye candy. A List Apart: For People Who Make Websites, 282. Retrieved from: http://www.alistapart.com/articles/indefenseofeyecandy
Anderson highlights the importance of visual aesthetics in an online environment. Using a variety of visual examples, he explains the innate reaction that users (learners) have to online images and formatting of text, font and placement. For example, using specific language and describing beveled edges and shading, Anderson demonstrates the cognitive process that users would go through; if it looks like a button, it must be a button. When researching online design, Anderson references recent studies in psychology that indicate that what users think can't be separated from what they feel. Therefore, special attention can and should be paid to "eye candy". The leader in an educational environment would be able to use this information to help course creators and designers understand their end-users; their learners.

Kensinger Rose, K. (2009). Student perceptions of the use of instructor-made videos in online and face-to-face classes. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching 5(3), 487-495.
In this article, the author and researcher explores the use of teacher-made videos in both an online course, and a blended face-to-face environment. By using videos as a response to student questions, teachers are able to establish a positive and meaningful relationship with their students. The author highlights the use of ready-available technologies, such as built-in webcams, the iMovie application and the online video hosting service YouTube. In addition, the author makes specific recommendations for online instructors who might be interested in this teaching technique. This would be a valuable resource to a leader in educational technology, as it highlights the importance of teachers creating their own teaching materials and videos to suppliment any text-based material already present within the course. The specific recommendations and suggestions to online teachers would be of special benefit to any educator working in a primarily online environment.

Kuhlmann, T. (2007). The insider's guide to becoming a rapid e-learning pro. Retreived from: http://www.articulate.com/rapid-elearning/
This ebook is designed to help the user create and manage an e-learning course in a quick and efficient manner. Associated with his blog, this ebook is a separate resource, available to subscribers as a download. The author is primarily addressing a course designer for adult-oriented, corporate training. However, even without focusing on the specific needs of the K-12 environment, or the classroom teacher, this ebook excels at providing specific , practical and efficient strategies and solutions to an online learning environment. The author has an understanding of learning styles, and really focuses on the learner, and not the organizational objectives. Kuhlmann presents five common Pet Peeves when faced with an online course, and offers solutions, strategies and alternatives when approaching them. There are some excellent, practical suggestions for including audio, video and images in the online course, and the author presents them in a straightforward and uncomplicated manner: "With one annotated screen capture image, you can convey the same information with no video. This keeps the file small and faster to download, and it’s easier to create and maintain if you have to update or edit in the future." The author indicates a clear mandate to focus on understanding the needs of the organization, the customer and the learner. These are all sound principles that translate out of the corporate environment, and into the educational realm. The course designer needs to understand the content and the context of the situation before starting to design the materials. Although there is a significant focus on the corporate uses of e-learning, the educational leader would be able to use this resource as a guide and potential framework for establishing, designing or implementing an online course in the K-12 environment. This ebook has been written in a very authentic and accessible manner, which would allow novice course designers to not feel intimidated by the unknowns associated with a new undertaking.