A 21st century educational system must educate all students in the effective and authentic use of the technologies that permeate society to prepare them for the future. In the past, our educational system emphasized the use of traditional tools such as textbooks, chalkboards, overhead projectors, ring binders, and composition books.
Now however, our culture has embraced vastly new and dynamically changing media in everyday life. Additionally, our classrooms and learning environments are increasingly moving to online and hybrid learning environments. To effectively teach in these online, multimodal spaces, high-quality visual teaching and learning materials are needed.
Think of the last time a student or colleague asked for help or directions in an online or digital space. Consider the directions you would give as you indicate how to get around a digital environment using only text directions. I find myself typing up emails directing students to “go to the top right corner”…”click on the blue box”…”enter your password”…”scroll to the bottom”…etc. As if this wasn’t bad enough, I would then copy and paste these directions out to the ten other people that needed the same directions. This is when I started to develop the use of multimodal tutorials to scaffold learners.
Multimodal tutorials are defined as screencasts, or screencaptures of teaching materials shared on your computer screen. Up to this point, primarily static images or video walkthroughs have been used to produce and share these tutorials. As online content and information becomes increasingly sophisticated, so too should online teaching materials. Put simply, educators need to understand how to create and experiment with these teaching materials to best support students.
Multimodal tutorials are screencaptures (images) or screencasts (video) that are created using content on your computer screen. They may include audio narration or annotations. I typically use Skitch to create and annotate screencaptures. For screencasts I have been using Screencast-o-matic after having used Jing for a number of years. As I begin to spend more time on Chromebooks, I use Snagit for most of my screencaptures and screencasts. There are many excellent tools on Android and iOs (iPad/iPhone) that can be used as well. I’ll discuss those in an upcoming post.
For an overview of the tools that I use and the process involved, please review this post.
Creating & sharing multimodal tutorials
As you start creating these multimodal tutorials, it’s helpful to save, share, and archive them in one space online. This makes it easier for your students and colleagues to access all of your individual screencaptures and screencasts. Paste in a link to an image or video into an email, or add a link to a worksheet or blog post.
I think you should have one website or learning hub that is used to collect and share all teaching and learning materials. The reason is that you train your students and colleagues to expect that most of your materials will all be available on this one space. You do not want your students traipsing across the Internet looking for your materials. It’s far better (IMHO) to have them all embedded on your website.
An archive of multimodal tutorials
As I began building up my digital identity, I used different tools to create and share my work. I slowly started aggregating all of these materials into one Google Site. After building up this resource, I then opened up this resource to allow others to share and utilize the teaching materials. The end result is the Digital Texts and Tools online repository. I’ll soon start pulling this content over into my main website.
There are numerous resources on the Digital Texts and Tools site. The one section that most educators use often is the Multimodal Tutorials section. This website is a communal spot in which my students and colleagues have archived their work over time. The tutorials in this space should give you a guide as to best practices as you build your work. We also set up a template to guide my students as they develop and share their tutorials.
Feel free to use/revise/repost the tutorials to your site if needed. All of the materials on the site are Creative Commons licensed.If you have a tutorial that you want to use, copy/paste that work over to your website. Please leave an attribution link on the bottom of your page back to the repository. Our hope is to encourage everyone to take, share, use, and revise the tutorials to support and scaffold your own learners. If you need a tutorial on Padlet or Socrative…great…we’ve got those.
Please also feel free to add/edit/revise content on the site. Have a better version of a tutorial…or a screencast that would help…go ahead and add it. Have a tutorial that isn’t included… add that as well. Slowly we can collaborate and build up a library of resources to use online.
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Also published on Medium.