Multimedia and Web 2.0

Being a responsible course designer means making courses interesting and engaging.  Utilizing multimedia and Web 2.0 tools will help hold the attention of students while serving the different learning styles of students.



Audio and Podcasting

Audio and Podcasting



  • Pod: Play-On-Demand
  • Vod: Video-On-Demand
  • Podcasting: broadcasting through Play-On-Demand
  • MP3: a music file format which uses compressed files to efficiently transfer audio
  • iPod / MP3 Player: a portable music player which utilizes MP3 format files
  • Audacity: a free, open source software (FOSS) which allows audio recording and editing, and which is widely used by educators
      25 Minute Lesson on Audacity
  • iTunes: Apple's online music service and desktop music player
  • audio book / eBook: a book which can be downloaded to your computer in a MP3 audio format


Sources of Free Audio Books

You can download iTunes to your computer and then do a search for "audiobook" or "ebook" and then sort the Price column in ascending order (Free books will then appear at the top of the list).

Listing of free audio books in iTunes


The website has hundreds of links to free audio books in categories of Fiction and Literature, Nonfiction, and Poetry.

LibriVox is a site which provides audio recordings and podcasts of books in the public domain.

Goverment Sources

Many government agencies will have audio or video podcasts available for free use and download.  Here are a few examples:

You can also use the website to complete a search which includes the search-term "podcast."

Recording Your Lectures

Lectures which are scripted will be more concise, precise, and accurate than lectures recorded during a live class.  Also, scripted lectures will be shorter (since the pauses are eliminated -- which normally take place in the classroom to allow students to finish writing, to ask questions, and to provide answers to your questions).

Scripting your lectures also helps you meet accessibility requirements; your script becomes your text-transcript for your audio file.

You should consider using a headset microphone.  Place the microphone above your nose to help eliminate breath noises from the recording.

You can record to your computer or to a portable voice recorder.  Your headset can plug into the voice recorder to allow you to record your materials in environments where computers are not available.

Google Earth

Google Earth view of Downtown Minneapolis

Google Earth Arizona topigraphical view

For someone who is geographically challenged (like myself), being able to see a 3-dimensional view of a city skyline is so much more helpful than a flat 2-d "top down" view.
The first image above shows the Management Education Center building in Minneapolis (highlighted in gold) in a rotated view on Google Earth.

Only buildings in downtown areas of major metropolitan areas are in 3D relief, but you can still "fly" over the 3-dimensional landscape as though you are in an airplane.
One of my favorite features is a "spin the globe" where you drag and release the mouse - and the landscape below keeps moving - again, like a virtual flight!

The second image shows mountains in Arizona. Although you can see the 3-D relief in the image - the actual 3-D rendering in the live application will have you sitting for hours on the computer just "traveling" the geography.
This free site can assist in teaching about urban planning, geography, biology, history, and countless other subjects. Allowing students to view the terrain paints events in a much more interesting light.

Check it out at and click on MORE>>

Homemade Teleprompter

  If you want to sound professional (concise, precise, and accurate), then writing out a script ahead of time and the recording yourself reading your script will generally produce much better results.


For about $120 I was able to construct a teleprompter purchasing some simple hand tools and parts from a local lumber / hardware store.  I scrounged up an old (about to be thrown out) 14" LCD monitor and stashed that in the bottom of the unit.


The design works off the periscope principle.  The monitor reflects into the mirror at the bottom of the teleprompter, which "reverses" the image (creates a "mirror image").  That image is directed into the pane of glass which acts like a partial mirror - which flips the image back to its original orientation.  Since the glass is angled forward toward the subject, none of the image is projected back into the video camera.  Since the glass is clear - the video camera can shoot through the glass directly at the subject.  


The pane of glass is completely clear - which means that you don't have to "up" your lighting as you would with a half-silvered mirror / beam splitter.  The pane of glass is also on a pivot to allow the image to the subject to be adjusted up and down.

Video Prompter Design using periscope design of one mirror and one pane of glass



Constructed Teleprompter

Image Editing

Images can be powerful additions to online course content.  Working with images requires some understanding of image editing as well as image accessibility.

This book will guide you through some techniques, tools, tips, and tricks for working with online images.

Free Photo Editing Software

Yes! Another cool Google tool. Picasa is free download program from Google that allows you to quickly and easily crop, size, and perform basic editing on a photo (brightness, contrast, color-balance, red-eye fix).

There are also built-in filters to allow some "quick and easy" artistic modifications to your files.

Download the file from >> MORE >> EVEN MORE

A free photo editing program which allows layer editing (similar to PhotoShop) is Paint.Net.  You can download Paint.Net version 3.36 from
GIMP Portable - GNU Image Manipulation Program for Flash Drives
GIMP is a well-known and widely used graphics editing program.  It has been ported to run on USB Flash Drives, so that you can run it on any computer without needing to "install" it to each machine.
You can download the GIMP Portable from

Image Techniques

Cheap and Easy 3D for Images

Do you have an object that you would like to show students in 3-dimensions?
Too hard to mail the object out for viewing?
Here is a simple yet effective optical illusion that will work for you.

MP3 Player using the 3D technique


Make two scans of the object.
The first scan, the object will be to the left-most position on the scanner.
The second scan, the object will be to the right-most position on the scanner.


Open both images and copy them into a new third image. The "side-views" of the object (which were originally toward the middle of the scanner) still need to appropriately point toward the center in the final composition.


Leave some blank "white space" between the objects.


Have students stare at the whitespace between the objects and slowly cross their eyes. All of a sudden, they see the 3-dimensional object in the "negative space" left behind.


Light colored empty "negative" space works best. View the sample above of what is normally a very flat MP3 player (has little dimension to begin with - but with this process, you see it "lift off" the screen).


Have fun!

Toy and USB connector showing 3D technique


Easy Course Images with Scanner

Rather than buying a $900 digital SLR camera, you can create very high resolution images for your courses by using a $70 scanner hooked up to your computer.


Place the objects that you need photographed on the scanner glass (be realistic about size and weight of objects, please).


Then scan.

Simple visual elements help make content more interesting. Use of symbolism can also aid memory in a student's investigation of the topics.



Pile of Canadian Coins



Understanding Web 2.0 Tools

Web 2.0


What Are Web 2.0 Tools?


Popular Social Networking Sites Useful to Educators

  • Facebook - connect to peers, former classmates, and interest groups; see updates from users; share resources and images
  • Twitter - 140 characters at a time, instant messages and "micro-blogging" to share your thoughts, article links, and questions with others.  Use your Twitter feed to automatically update your other sites via an RSS feed (what you post in Twitter shows up in your other sites).
  • Ning - Create and join social networks based on interests.  Many educational groups already in existance are available for you to join.
  • Social Networks in Education (wiki site) - provides listings of groups by discipline