Academic journal article Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia

The Power of Peer Review in Multimedia Production

Academic journal article Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia

The Power of Peer Review in Multimedia Production

Article excerpt

Multimedia projects are opportunities to negotiate meaning through a variety of portrayals. However, too often multimedia projects are created with inadequate thought for how they will be perceived by others. Multimedia can be uncommunicative when the creator has designed it from an egocentric perspective. This article describes a set of learning activities involving peer and target population evaluations that address this problem. These formative evaluations provide creators of multimedia with compelling suggestions for improvement. The power of these commentaries is evident through changes or projected changes to projects. The results suggest that these activities encourage a greater sense of audience and the creation of better product.

The Course/The Project

The Faculty of Education at the University of Lethbridge (Canada) has been offering a course called Multimedia and Learning, as a senior undergraduate offering. This is a study into the tools and educational value of multimedia. The course surveys multimedia applications, discusses the value of multimedia for learning, presents principles of design and layout, establishes a skill set with relevant multimedia applications, and engages the user in a team approach to project development. The course's intent is to provide educators with skills and knowledge to effectively integrate and discuss the role of multimedia in learning. It also prepares perspective teachers with experiences producing multimedia projects so that they are in a better position to use it with their own students. In a one-semester course it is unreasonable for students to become experts with multimedia production tools but through tutorials, experimental time, and assignments, students gain a sense for the possibilities. There are a number of assignments that students pursue to achieve the objectives of this course. Design and layout principles are discussed in class and students are responsible for reading and providing a summary of a textbook entitled, Interactivity by Design (Kristof & Satran, 1995). Based on these design principles students create their own evaluation forms that are used to evaluate commercial multimedia programs. Another component is a series of small assignments that introduce students to multimedia tools. These involve 2-D graphics, manipulating sound, creating a short video, and modeling and rendering a simple 3-D illustration. This is rather open-ended but students create some spectacular results. These assignments act as background for the major cuiminating project where students are grouped into research and production teams. The teams select a topic for their multimedia project and members of the team are delegated topics to research and application tools to learn; a form of reciprocal learning (Brown, Campione, Webbe r, & McGilly, 1992). This project culminates in the creation of a multimedia product. Students do a great amount of preproduction planning of their projects; they submit a general description of the project, background research, a node map (concept map), and a storyboard. The teams then create their project.

Once the projects enter the prototype stage they go through a formative evaluation process. The projects are initially tested by peer evaluation (another group of students) and then with users who the project is designed for (target population). Further details of the course are available online by way of the Internet (Steed, 2000). During one semester the instructor obtained student consent to gather data to document this experience.

Sense of Audience

Students that create multimedia need to critically select tools and representations. To do this, they should be comfortable with graphic, sound, and video applications. They need an understanding how those media can be integrated to enhance the message. However, to effectively negotiate meaning, they also require a "sense of audience. …

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