Multimedia: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

There is no escaping the challenges set before the educators of today's student. As educators, we once only had to compete against television with its cartoons and MTV. We now have to battle for attention over the latest video or computer game. Each new game becomes more realistic than the last and technology is growing to the point that movies can be made without any humans while the characters still appear to be human, as in Final Fantasy.

Teachers can meet and conquer these challenges with multimedia. Teachers must not only be stage performers, they must now be able to devise methods with which to grab and keep the attention of students. Multimedia presentations offer that opportunity and supply both teacher and student with the possibility to be creative and to expand beyond the boundaries that have limited them to this point.

Teacher Produced Multimedia Presentations

While creating a multimedia presentation, it is easy to see the management skills that must be practiced. One must set up timelines, search for resources, analyze material, and organize the content for presentation. This is best accomplished using concept maps and webs to demonstrate the relationships of the various components. Evaluation of learner outcome must also play a major role in selecting the methods of presenting content. With state standards in place, teachers must continually assess the benefits of multimedia presentations and weigh those benefits against the drawbacks. This duty can be overwhelming, but with determination and much patience the task can be completed.

The benefits of multimedia projects range greatly depending on whether you are creating the presentation or simply using a completed project. Benefits need to also be measured against the technology standards required of you as the teacher versus the standards that should be met by the student in your classroom. While both the teacher and student must meet basic operation and concept skills, those skills intensify for the teacher. This also applies in the area of using computers as productivity, communication, and research tools. By creating presentations that engage the student and promote technology in the classroom, teachers are able to exit left of the stage and become better facilitators. Students are given permission to become self-learners. This develops a win-win situation if all participants strive toward a common goal.

Multimedia presentations bring a self-motivating factor with them as they allow the student to become truly engaged and immersed in the presentation. While each student is seated at his/her own workstation, he/she can focus on the information presented without peer pressure. The student does not have to worry about appearing to be too smart or not so smart. This eliminates fear and releases the tension that may prevent a student from completing a task to the greatest potential. Multimedia presentations are self-paced and address the needs of the student. The presentations allow for a slower reader to take the time needed to comprehend the material while letting the speed-reader move at a quicker pace. Multimedia presentations also provide a chance for remediation should it be needed. Teachers can address each student need as the individual need arises. Multimedia presentations also address all modalities of learning. While allowing a visual student to read and digest the information, multimedia allows the kinesthetic student the movement needed to keep the presentation interesting. Add sound and video clips and the auditory learner has his/her needs met as well.

The above-mentioned pros for multimedia presentations come attached to a list of cons that can be viewed as overpowering and too much to take on for some teachers. While completing my first multimedia presentation, I found myself struggling with those issues. I spent many hours gathering materials, researching websites, analyzing the content I wanted to address, selecting graphics, and arranging and rearranging slides. This does not even begin to count the hours I spent creating links to slides in other slideshows and making sure they were in working order. Multimedia is not a quick fix and the teacher that embarks on the journey should be prepared to spend time on the presentation. One should also consider the types of computers that will be used for the presentations. As the files become large and the variety of images, sounds, and video clips that are added increase, you may find that the computers in the classroom are not equipped to handle the presentation. The computers slow down or worse yet they freeze, the media player does not support the clips you have chosen or have created, and those wonderful Internet sites that took you days to find and longer to research are no longer available. Be ready to "Adjust and Modify".

Student Produced Multimedia Presentations

Student produced multimedia presentations lend themselves to a diverse level of skill development and practice. Students practice management skills such as developing timelines, organizing ideas, assigning roles for each member of the group, and enforcing deadlines. They define research skills. They develop new skills such as scanning images, recording and editing sounds, and compressing files. These skills integrate various means of communication and thus expand the knowledge base for the student.

While developing multimedia presentations, students may find that it is easier to work with a partner when gathering the necessary information. This may not be true however, when the information is ready to be compiled and applied to a slideshow. Each person will bring his/her own visions to the project and at times this can produce friction within the group. The minutest detail can be hard to decide on and the group will need to practice the art of compromise. This need to comprise creates the occasion for real world application in problem solving. In essence, multimedia presentations teach more than just the content that is being presented. Multimedia presentations can, among other things, expand creativity, challenge and enhance prior skills, and teach tolerance of others. Students take ownership of the work being presented and many times upstage the teacher. What more can we ask?

Final Comments

As I worked on Bust A Move (my first true multimedia presentation), I found myself pushing the envelope and wanting to create more multimedia presentations for my students. I also found myself wanting to teach my students how to produce multimedia presentations.

The good of multimedia presentations definitely outweighs the bad, and the ugly can be quickly erased with a reminder that every page need not be the same color nor have the same font. The lesson you take from the completion of the project is far better than the simple content that was presented during the show.

Yes, it is time consuming. Yes, at times I found myself wondering if the task would ever be completed, but as I shared the presentation with family, friends, and colleagues I felt pride and knew that my feeling of accomplishment was one that I wanted my students to experience and embrace.

Standards Addressed

Technology Foundation Standards for Students

  • Students demonstrate a sound understanding of the nature and operation of technology systems.
  • Students are proficient in the use of technology.
  • Students practice responsible use of technology systems, information, and software.
  • Students develop positive attitudes toward technology uses that support lifelong learning, collaboration, personal pursuits, and productivity.
  • Students use technology tools to enhance learning, increase productivity, and promote creativity.
  • Students use technology to locate, evaluate, and collect information from a variety of sources.
  • Students use technology tools to process data and report results.


  1. The human organism has muscular and skeletal systems for movement.
  2. Disease is a breakdown in structures or functions of an organism. Some diseases are the result of intrinsic failures of the system.

State Standards require that I meet the above-mentioned standards for the Skeletal and Muscular Systems. Through Bust A Move I will have met those standards.

Email: Malura Shady