Friday, October 30, 2009

Multimedia Sharing

Learning the Multimedia Way.

According to Wikipedia, "multimedia includes a combination of text, audio, still images, animation, video, and interactivity content forms." (

Step 1: Reflection.
When I sat down and saw the title..."Multimedia Sharing" my mind began to wander. One question kept resurfacing...aren't many of the tools I have already explored technically multimedia sharing tools? Another permutation of this question is the classic..."Aren't lunch and dinner the same thing?"

I toured Photobucket which included the ability to share video, images, and text (click here for a recap) . When I looked at YouTube, multimedia and sharing capabilites were definitely there. Even my trip down podcasting lane led me down unexpected multimedia adventures....thank you to and for saving that day (click here for a recap ). Other resources I have used such as,, iTunes,, and all include mixtures of media and some ability to share this content. What is the point of this rambling reflection? This first step made me realize that I have been exploring the implications of multimedia sharing since the start of this blog. So have my colleagues (check out "My Followers"). So I focused my learning process on two novel tools rather than multimedia sharing itself, as I have already been exposed to that concept.

Step 2: Follow other peoples' trails and became the novel tools of the week. Instead of jumping into playing...I followed other people. Our class trailfire led the way ( This resource exposed me to Voicethread's introducation video. Check it out here: That video invited me to play but I fought the urge and followed the trail further and ran into Joyce Valenza's thoughts on Animoto. If she gives praise such as the quote below then the tool is worth looking into.

"Animoto is a magically-easy way to grab attention, produce professional-looking public relations products, archive an event, visually showcase our best, and create new visual contexts" (( )

Joyce's stamp of approval combined with my old trusty meant reflection time was over. If you are really new to all of this and you are short on time...check out the video below.

Step 3: Play Time

When I read "magically-easy" I was a skeptic especially in light of the problems I had with embedding podcasts. But to my surprise...Animoto was magical.
Take a look at the workspace. Have you seen anything more bare bones and direct?

The site claims that they do all the work and everything is super easy and fast. You be the judge. I put them to the test and I was able to create (we will discuss this term later) all of these permutations in less than 15 minutes using images from Photobucket

This tool was perfect for this week as my schedule was insane. Even though I am familiar with other software, I couldn't have met my deadline without the speed of this process.

While I didn't have as much time to dig around and create with Voice Thread, I was dumbfounded by browsing other people's creations. If you are short on time (as most teachers are) check this video out and see if your mind explodes with possibilities as mine did.

Have a little more time now?? Check out one more sample and notice how comments can be done in several ways. Think subplans. Think problem solving...ooops, getting ahead of myself.

Personal/Social Implications
Mark as a learner - I wish I had run into Voicethread earlier. I am in an online course that requires group work. Imagine how much easier and fun it would have been to edit/comment on our presentation using this mulitmedia application instead of countless emails? I love the idea of being able to "see" who is commenting, hearing what they have to say, and then being able to read their suggestions/praise. Asynchronous multimedia discussions = more fun than text based correspondance.

Mark as a business tycoon: I don't have my own business but my wife is a figure skating coach. She has to look her best and be her best in order to gain and retain clients. Animoto would allow a quick clean way for her to advertise her skills and to showcase past successes. Denise Wakeman and the Blog Squad use it for business purposes and seem to be happy with it ( One has to keep in mind though that you are at the mercy of the magical Animoto Gods for your finished product. You have very minimal creative control and to those of us who dabble with Adobe Premiere, Elements, iMovie, and other applications...we like creative control. I personally like tinkering with the pans, the zooms, the close-ups, the credits, the timings...this is all part of creating (more about this below but to wet your whistle...If you always get store bought lasagna are you a cook?)

Okay, I can't hold off anymore and I really would like your input...your comments. I will use images and video followed by a question about tools like Animoto and their impact on society.

Now that you have had time to interpret the above media...did you notice a progression? Are tools like Animoto truly making creation more accessible to the masses or is it an illusion? Are the skills, talents, and deeper levels of appreciation that come with explicit creative control important or is the end result paramount? Am I part of the creative process if I click buttons and let other people...other software do the nitty-gritty stuff? Please add your comments below.

Professional Implications:

This is where I want to focus on Voicethread. It is a tool that was created with education in mind. I wish I had access to a scanner to share my notes with you.

Voicethread offers educators and students:
1) Variety - The variety is generated by the participants. No two threads are alike. Each frame is potentially surrounded by rich text, audio, and images. Each participant can draw to creat emphasis or suggest corrections. Is your dominant hand broken? Maybe your mouth is wired shut after surgery. Almost everyone can contribute due to the mulimedia interface between user and content. Differentiated instruction anyone?

2) Appropriate levels of control - Both Animoto involve user generated content. This brings in many similar concerns that using sites like YouTube raise.
"Not all the videos in Youtube are positive and appropriate for children to view. Even the comments of some videos left by others to see have quite a bit of profanity in them. Blocking the use of the site in the school is not the answer. Is it not our responsibility as educators to teach children what they should do when they come across inappropriate content or profanity?" (

Voicethread puts control into the hands of educators rather than broadbased filters which means professionals that are in the context of the activity can be involved in the education alluded to above. Voicethread allows teachers to moderate comments before they are posted if need be. Students can't invite people from outside their group to join in unless the teacher/administrator provides those permissions. Threads are private by default rather than public and the list goes on.

3) Options for highly filtered environments - If your school has a strong firewall, the people at Voicethread even provide information on how to adjust permissions so it can function in your environment. As a computer support person I love this attention to detail.

4) Edit without alterations - Revisit the above samples and tour others. You and your students can mark up the content, the doodling is linked to the commenter, but when everything is over...boom! The original is untouched. This may reduce the fear some students have about allowing others to edit their work and it leaves the onus on the user to make changes.

5) Enhances experiences for users at all levels - Are you only comfortable with taking pictures? Do you sit next to someone who does the best digital media presentations ever? Whatever content you generated on your own, whether complex or simple, can be easily integrated into a rich online discussion. This tool enhances your work instead of doing all the work for you or requiring you to learn a whole new set of skills.

The above features and others can be found by touring their site. Click here to start.
6) Safe environment = chances for student growth - Within the Voicethread environment students can develop and become moderators and miniadministrators themselves (


1) Bandwidth - If you work in a school you are very familiar with this battle. Both Animoto and Voicethread will tax your bandwidth if they are heavily used. Unfortunately schools without broadband connections may be excluded from using these tools.

2) Competitive vs Collaborative - I hadn't even thought of this before I came across this posting. Click Here If you have had any experience with YouTube or Twitter, competition and comment battles can easily ensue. Collaborative comments/skills will have to modeled and taught. Teachers will have to watch this closely as a multimedia comment war could easily undermine the whole process.

3) Access to equipment - This simple fact can't be overlooked. Simple access to a variety of tools will make this a truly multimedia experience. If students only have access to a keyboard then much of the power of this tool will be lost.

Phew!! This was a long one and there is so much to share. I will leave you with one final comment, a few resources, and then I await your input.

Tools like YouTube, Animoto, GoAnimate are powerful tools but they were not designed for education. This means that educators have to work hard to repurpose them for that environment (see my posting on video sharing) . Out of everything I have reviewed, Voicethread has impressed me the most as it was created with students and teachers in mind (there is that word "create" again).

Resources worth a look if you want more specific ideas on how you use Voicethread:

Math ideas -

Excellent wiki about Voicethread uses -

Slideshow with 17 ways to use Voicethreads -

Make sure you check out "My Followers" as well. Many of them are delving into this world as well.