by W. Ian O'Byrne
As our literate lives continually move from page to screen, we are constantly bombarded with multimedia. I think about my own son and the steady stream of multimodal information that he has come into contact with. Even at his early age he has become accustomed to reading and working with multimedia.
It makes me wonder what expectations students like him will have as they enter our classrooms. How can we provide a space for reading of multimedia elements in our classrooms? More importantly, how can we prepare students now for the multimedia reading they will need in the future?
When bringing multimedia, or even online information into our classrooms we usually have concerns about access to the technology. I would suggest that we start by using many of the tools we currently have access to. For instance, we can read multimedia…without the media. I frequently print out webpages, blog posts, or infographics to photocopy and hand out to students to actively read. This allows students to read multimodal online text, without adding in the complexity of the Internet.
Another idea is to bring in videos from YouTube to play in class and have students discuss the theme, mood, tone, or even simply summarize the clip. I would suggest downloading the YouTube clips at home and bringing them into school on a CD or a USB drive.
Finally, I am a big believer in think-alouds, especially when the teacher allows students to know what decisions you make as you read online. You can use an overhead or projector connected to a computer to share this with students. If you want to get even more fancy you can record the think-aloud using a product like Jing, and share with your students as a screencast.
For more support on bringing YouTube or other examples of multimedia into your classroom feel free to visit the support materials provided here.
W. Ian O'Byrne is an assistant professor in the Department of Education at the University of New Haven.
Photo caption: Video chat with family.