Writing for Multimedia
TESOL 2000 Discussion Group

Philip Hubbard
Stanford University
email: phil@csli.Stanford.EDU
Claire Bradin Siskin
Michigan State University
email: bradincl@pilot.msu.edu

Notes from Discussion:

I. Introductions:

Participants consisted of teachers, publishers, experienced writers, and beginners

II. How can we as writers help create interactive, multimedia software that is superior to alternatives?

What does "superior" mean? Students retain information better; there is more efficiency for both learners and teachers.

There needs to be a cost benefit in terms of hours
The use of multimedia shouldn't put an additional burden on teachers.
Cost efficiency: Some multimedia can be put together free from the Web; other software is quite costly in terms of authoring systems and programmers.
Cost efficiency is important in terms of administration.
Example: It can be cheaper than photocopying
Convenience is important for distance education (maybe less effective, but more effective than nothing!).
There are also collatoral gains: The producer puts more hours into it at the beginning , but later it saves time. You have to decide if it was really worth it.

III. How do you enhance a textbook/ audio/video/ with multimedia?

Advantage: students can use it any time; easier to duplicate material; easy to duplicate CD-ROM.
Audio: easier for students to manage if on computer
Some interfaces are not that convenient; others are convenient.
Students get an immediate response.
It is possible to put together a combination of audio and text so that students can deal with the meaning.

IV. What does a multimedia writer need to know?

HyperCard and Designer's Edge were mentioned as useful authoring tools.

Content has to be written in a form to fit multimedia with an understanding of the technical possibilities.

Watch how students react; see what is missing and what students have problems with.
Techies don't always want to do what we want them to!

V. What are the considerations in choosing between CD-ROM and the Web?

Hybrids: The two can be integrated: content can be on a web page while multimedia comes from the CD-ROM.
You cannot take anything from CD-ROM and put it on the web! There are many technical problems : long download time, dropouts, loss of quality.

Something must be designed for a specific environment. If you want to look at the Web only, look just at web materials.

VI. What are the issues in defining your role as writer on a team? You have to interact with programmers, artists, video experts, so what do you do as a member of a team?

Define your roles; find out who is reponsible.
Determine who is the project leader.
Determine who has final approval.
Figure out ways to take control and get what you want (production team, professional voices).

VII. Does anyone know of research that can help? Other resources?


Reeves, B & C. Nass (1999). The media equation. Cambridge University Press. ISBN (Paperback): 1575860538

Reeves, B & C. Nass (1996). The media equation. Cambridge University Press. ISBN (Cloth): 157586052X

VIII. Further questions

What role does an individual writer have?

Nowadays projects are often done by teams.
You need to do a mockup to show a publisher before they are interested.
Sometimes publishers have an idea and look for a writer, especially if they already have a book and want to move it to multimedia.

It is hard to write multimedia on your own because you have to do the whole thing. It is better to get feedback (proof of concept) on ideas early in the project. It is best to do a mockup form, and top-down doesn't work.

References on the Web:

Hoven, D. (1999). A model for listening and viewing comprehension in multimedia environments. Language Learning & Technology, 3, No. 1, July 1999, pp. 88-103. http://llt.msu.edu/vol3num1/hoven/index.html

Hubbard, P. (1992). Software Evaluation Guide http://www.owlnet.rice.edu/~ling417/guide.html

Kennedy, D. M. and McNaught, C. (1997). Design elements for interactive multimedia. Australian Journal of Educational Technology, 13(1), 1-22. http://cleo.murdoch.edu.au/ajet/ajet13/wi97p1.html

McCarthy, B. (1994). Choice and constraint in software design. OnCALL, 8, no. 2. http://www.cltr.uq.edu.au/oncall/mccarthy82.html

Plass, J. (1998). Design and evaluation of the user interface of foreign language multimedia software: A cognitive approach. Language Learning & Technology, Vol. 2, No. 1, July 1998, pp. 35-45. http://polyglot.cal.msu.edu/llt/vol2num1/article2/index.html

Thompson, Irene. Taxonomy of features for evaluating foreign language multimedia software. http://nts.lll.hawaii.edu/flmedia/evaluation/general/gencriteria.htm


Printed References:

Bradin, C. (1999). Instructional aspects of software evaluation. (1999). In J. Egbert & E. Hanson-Smith (Eds.), CALL Environments: Research, Practice, and Critical Issues.Alexandria: TESOL.

Hoven, D. (1997). Instructional design for multimedia: Towards a learner centered CELL (computer enhanced language learning) model. In Murphy-Judy, K. (Ed.), NEXUS: The convergence of language teaching and research using technology. Durham, NC: CALICO.

Hubbard, P. (1987). Language teaching approaches, the evaluation of CALL software, and design implications. In W. Smith (Ed.), Modern
media in foreign language education: Theory and implementation. Lincolnwood, IL: National Textbook Company.

______(1992). A methodological framework for CALL courseware development. In M. C. Pennington and V. Stevens (eds.) Computers in applied linguistics. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.

_____ (1996). Elements of CALL Methodology: Development, Evaluation, and Implementation. In Pennington, M. (Ed.) The Power of CALL. Houston, TX: Athelstan.

Myles, S. (1998). The language learner and the software designer: A marriage of true minds or ne'er the twain shall meet? ReCALL 10, 1, 38-45.

Stevens, V. (1989). A direction for CALL: From behavioristic to humanistic courseware. In M. C. Pennington (Ed.),Teaching languages with computers: The state of the art. La Jolla, CA: Athelstan.


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