PD session 2: Multimedia extravaganza

It’s a no brainer that multimedia is an essential part of science and science education. Our focus today is going to be on learning some tools that make it much easier to incorporate multimedia into your lessons, and a few new ideas for using multimedia in your lessons you might not have thought of.

First, I should give credit to Dan Meyer, who inspired many of these lessons. I also borrowed screencasts and directions from the workshop site he set up for our Atlanta workshop.

Let’s start with an example of a compelling multimedia lesson.

Sample Lesson: little packets of sugar

For more background on the engagement in 3 acts idea, check out this post:
The three acts of a mathematical story.

If you’d like to download the keynote of this lesson to see how it was put together, you can download it from this link. Also, a couple of tutorials:

Multimedia Technique

  1. Recording video and making movies with iMovie

    What is it: iMovie is a simple to use video editing program that allows one great flexibility in creating films.
    How you might use it: Have students produce video presentations on a topic. Film your class and use iMovie to edit. Build a library of simple videos of demos and labs.
    Beginner: Import a clip from a flip video camera and trim it.

      1. Run iMovie 11 (from your dock or the applications folder.
      2. Choose File > Import from Camera

    1. Trim the video.


    Extra Tips

  2. Creating Screencasts

    What it is: Using a software package to record what you see on your screen.
    How you might use it: Create video instructions of how do something on the computer. Use digitizing tablet to make screencasts of written notes. Have students scan work and annotate/explain it with screencast.

    Beginner Install Jing, record and upload a screencast.

    1. Install Jing. Click this link to start download.
    2. Record your first capture. This link will take you to video and written instructions on how to record your first screencast and share it using screencast.com.

    Professional: Record QuickTime screencasts that you can edit in iMovie.

    1. Open the QuickTime Player in your Applications folder. (Remember command+space is very fast search).
    2. Choose File > New Screen Recording
    3. Import your movie into iMovie.

    All-Star: learn Camtasia. Camtasia is a super powerful screen recording program that allows you to add many effects to screencasts, such as zooms, text and object overlays, and much more.

  3. Find and edit photos from the internet

  4. What is it: you can find photos on the internet of just about anything to include in lessons and assessments.
    How you might use it: countless ways. Pull an image of just about any scientific object from the web and edit it to your liking. You could also use scientific images as desktop wallpaper for your projector, generating interesting discussions.
    Beginner: find a photo and copy it into Pages or Keynote

    1. Find a photo using images.google.com. Remember that advanced search gives lots of options for finding images of a certain size, color or in the creative commons.
    2. Copy and paste a picture from the web into a Keynote presentation or pages document. Note: this is best done in Safari.
    3. 1-minute screencast explaining how to do this.

    Professional: Cover up critical information on the photo with rectangles.

    All-star: Edit the photo in Photoshop. Photoshop is the most powerful image editor on the planet. With a little bit of practice, you’ll be amazed with what you can do.

  5. Extract video from the internet to use in lessons

    What it is: Many videos encoded on the web (eg. youtube, etc) are encoded using flash or some other method that makes them difficult to extract. However, with the right extensions, this becomes easy.
    How you might use it: Once you’ve extracted a video, you can put it in a presentation, or analyze the physics of the video using tracker video analysis.


    1. Find a youtube video or other embedded flash movie you’d like to download. Here’s a beautiful video of what’s it’s like to fly over planet earth.
    2. Highlight and copy the url address from the address bar (command+C)
    3. Paste into keepvid.
    4. Right click the highest quality MP4 link and choose “save linked file as”
    5. Link to Screencast

    Professional: Install Keeptube on Firefox, and download youtube videos without having to go to a website.

      1. Open Firefox
      2. Install KeepTube by following this link.
      3. Find a youtube video you want to keep, and press the “download” button

  6. Rip DVDs and extract clips to use in lessons

    What is it: Software allows you to convert entire DVDs, or simply clips of to digital form for instant playback, which you can also add to presentations, or even edit in iMovie.
    How you might use it:Include a clip of a video in a presentation, Analyze the physics of the bus jump in speed using video analysis.
    Beginner: Download Handbrake, and Rip the second chapter of a DVD

    1. Download Handbrake
    2. Link to Detailed Handbrake instructions
    3. Link to screencast

    Professional:Trim the clip in QuickTime Player and insert it into a presentation or iMovie

    All-Star: Build a library of clips for your class and catalog them using Miro.

    1. Download Miro.
    2. Miro lets you sync video with your phone or tablet. Detailed Instructions.

11 thoughts on “PD session 2: Multimedia extravaganza

  1. Now, please rewrite this entire process for PCs so I can use it when I’m an instructional coach next semester. Just kidding…I can do that myself, but I am going to mimic your presentation style of steps for beginner and professional options. Easy to read = easier to implement…I’m hoping.

    Feedback: for an even easier and faster way to use YouTube videos, you may want to demonstrate how to create playlists in your YouTube account and simply play videos from there or link them to your presentation (whether keynote, PowerPoint, slide rocket, prezi, etc.). I have a playlist for each learning objective & it has become a very useful and easy media library to access quickly when antsy freshman are bouncing around. Now I only Download videos that I’m afraid might get removed for copyright violations (Discovery channel, Bill Nye – Disney is very good at copyright protection, and BBC). And now this brings up another point…what’s the policy on using copyrighted materials in your presentations? I always tell myself “I’m a teacher, it’s okay. Bill Nye wouldn’t mind.” but technically it’s not the right thing to do…okay, that was a tangent, but one I think is worth wondering. Thanks for the post.

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  3. Mylène says:

    Hi John, I would echo the positive comments about beginner/expert, and the people-friendly language. I also appreciated the well-designed examples of “How you might use it.”

    A couple of thoughts:

    For someone who is truly a beginner, they are probably not wondering “what can I do with iMovie.” They might be wondering “how can I make videos of my demos,” though. And for the truly inexperienced, it is going to seem arbitrary why you use iMovie to make videos of demos, but Jing to make videos of computer instructions. Aren’t they both videos? Instead of organizing the list by the product it makes (which, to the newbies, may sound like a bunch of gobbledygook), it might be helpful to organize it by purpose (How do I make a video of a lab?). That way, the list is more likely to respond to the questions people already have. (speaking of that, any way you can get your colleagues to generate their own questions?)

    The other point is about design. Multi-media isn’t what makes education better; good design is. I noticed what you didn’t put in to the screencast section (whiteboarded lectures a la Khan Academy), but a newbie will probably not notice the omission, let alone have an idea why it was omitted. How do we help people make sensible decisions about which multimedia tools to use when? It sounds like your efforts above are part of a larger project, so those big picture ideas may be discussed elsewhere, but they are often given too little attention. If people know how to use a bunch of flashy tools but can’t decide for themselves if a novel situation requires them, they are in the same boat as a student who knows how to rationalize the denominator and cross-multiply but can’t decide when to use them.

    I go back and forth about this, especially with software, because for some people it seems that they need to “get their hands dirty” using some web2.0 tools (or whatever) before they can take part in a conversation about their educational value. Learning a new piece of software is a skill by itself — a valuable one that lots of people don’t have and think they’re “not smart enough” to acquire. So maybe encouraging people to click every button in a new program is worth doing just to lower the anxiety level, and would enable people to feel confident enough to participate in a conversation about design. I don’t know. But I worry that we spend too much time on “Cool program — what can I do with this” and not enough on “Here’s what I want to improve about my teaching — is the solution a piece of software? Or is it something else?”

    I was invited to demo screencasting to some colleagues a while back, and although almost my entire content was about design, screencasts are so flashy that they overpowered the rest of the ideas (let’s call it the IWB effect…). My audience was effectively hypnotized, and that didn’t do much for their critique of good design. I don’t know how to combat this effect — but I worry about it.

  4. Geoff Schmit says:

    John, this is very well organized! I noticed that you referenced Creative Commons in the images section, but you may want to consider commenting on fair use and Creative Commons up front since there are a lot of misconceptions out there….

  5. […] PD session 2: Multimedia extravaganza « Westminster Science […]

  6. […] PD session 2: Multimedia extravaganza « Westminster Science […]

  7. Re: 3 acts.

    Dan never really answered my question about the ‘3 acts’, i.e. what is the responsibility of the students to bring a desire to learn *with* them, without the need for ‘a song and dance engagement’ process? For me, this is an important consideration which he declined to ‘engage’ me on!


  8. […] this, we launched into the multimedia extravaganza. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. Tagged professional […]

  9. Kay Solomon says:

    Westminster has a multi-user license for Camtasia. Check with Jill Gough.

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