Here are some suggestions for making the best use of multimedia
resources in teaching.
CD-ROMs vs. Web activities. Keep
in mind that students can revisit a Web activity you showed (or
mentioned) in class, 24 hours a day. While textbook publishers often
provide instructors with animations on CD-ROMs and videodiscs, most
students can only view these during lecture. Web activities offer
the continuity in and out of class time that these resources lack.
Use the Flash plug-in. Students
are more likely to visit Web resources that can be downloaded quickly
without the hassle of requiring additional plug-in installations.
The Flash plug-in wins on both counts: its vector-graphic format
minimizes download times, and it is also the most ubuiquitous multimedia
plug-in, already installed on something like 98% of computers. The
Shockwave plug-in is less prevalent (roughly 75%), but may be worth
downloading in some cases for its 3D and other special capabilities.
All new activities on BiologyInMotion are Flash-based.
Preparing for class. Murphy's
law predicts that the internet will experience disruptions during
your lecture presentation. For a glitch-free presentation, do the
following if time allows: Prior to the start of class, open a separate
browser window for each webpage you plan to show (holding down the
Control key while clicking a link will give you the option in a
pop-up menu). Then during the lecture all you have to do is click
the desired window to bring it to the front.
Post an outline or list of links on the
Web. Although the pedagogical value of such an outline is
debatable, it's a convenient place to put links to your favorite
biology webpages. At the start of class, all you have to do is bring
up the outline in a browser, and then you can Control-Click to open
all the webpages you will be showing. Also, having the outline page
readily accessible in your course website is a more convenient way
for students to find Web materials highlighted in class, without
the need to write long URLs on the blackboard.
Zoom in on Flash activities. While
showing a Flash movie (an activity or graphic that uses the Flash
plug-in), you can zoom in as close as you like by holding down the
Control key and clicking on the Flash movie. This can be extremely
helpful in a large lecture hall with a distant or poor-quality projection
Enlarge the text. When projecting
an ordinary HTML page in class, remember that you can enlarge the
text in most browsers. For example, in Internet Explorer, choose
"Text Zoom" from the View menu. (This won't work with Flash and
Pausing animations. Depending
on the computer platform, you may be able to freeze an animation
in progress simply by clicking and holding the top of the browser
window. This can be very useful when you are presenting an animation
in class and want to focus attention on a particular frame.