Randall Bass
(Georgetown University)

Table of Contents


What is Interactive Multimedia?

Why use Interactive Multimedia?

What Kinds of Multimedia are Available?
  • Educational Packages: General & Comprehensive History
  • Educational Package: Focused Topics & Collections
  • Historical Simulations
  • Electronic Texts
  • Interactive Educational Reference Tools
  • Annotated Bibliography

    How Can Multimedia be Incorporated into Educational Contexts?
  • Use Scenario #1: Building a Library-Based Multimedia Resource for Teachers
  • Use Scenario #2: Building a Library-Based Multimedia Resource for Students
  • Use Scenario #3: Using Multimedia Texts as Supplementary Curricular Matrerials for Particular Courses
  • Use Scenario #4: Using Electronic Texts as Tools for Teaching and Reinforcing Analytic and Reading Skills
  • Use Scenario #5: Orienting an Entire Course Around the Use and Creation of Multimedia Materials

  • What are the Technical Requirements for Using Multimedia?
  • Question #1: What do you need to know before buying multimedia?
  • Question #2: What do you need to have to run multimedia?
  • Question #3: What do you need to know to run interactive multimedia programs once you've acquired them and the proper equipment?
  • Works Cited/Further Reading


    One of the most rapidly changing and exciting areas of education in the world today is the development of computer-based teaching materials, especially interactive multimedia programs that run on personal computers. These new technologies offer students and teachers access to materials as never before. Through the condensed storage capabilities of computers, mutlimedia can deliver large amounts of information in ways that make it manageable, approachable, and useful. And by making it possible to access illustrations and photographs, sound and video, as well as large amounts of text, interactive multimedia programs present learning information to teachers, students, and scholars in newly engaging and meaningful ways. The integration of multimedia programs into libraries and classrooms promises not only to change the kinds of information that is available for learning, but the ways that learning takes place.

    Yet, as exciting as these new electronic resources are, the prospect of obtaining and incorporating some of them into classrooms, libraries, and resource centers can seem daunting at first. Having access to the necessary technology is one significant hurdle for using multimedia programs in education. However, there are other reasons that educators are resistant to consider the adoption of interactive multimedia in teaching, such as concerns that these new programs require a lot of technical knowledge to operate, or that the incorporation of such programs into teaching requires significant alteration in teaching style or revision of course curricula.

    This brief Guide explains how interactive multimedia can be an effective and powerful tool in education. The Guide also discusses a variety of ways that multimedia can be incorporated into teaching settings, as well as the technical and practical aspects of getting started with interactive multimedia. Finally, this Guide surveys the various kinds of computer-based materials that are available and how they might be used in teaching courses related to the study of the United States.

    Return to the table of contents

    What is interactive multimedia?

    Interactive multimedia has been called a "hybrid technology." It combines the storage and retrieval capabilities of computer database technology with advanced tools for viewing and manipulating these materials. Mutlimedia has a lot of different connotations, and definitions vary depending on the context. For the purposes of this Guide, in the context of upper secondary and postsecondary education, interactive multimedia is defined by three criteria:

    Interactive multimedia is synonymous with another frequently used term: hypermedia. Hypermedia is the multimedia version of the term hypertext. A hypertext is defined as any non-sequential, electronic text, assembled not as a seamless sequence of material with a beginning, middle and end, but as a web of interrelated chunks" of text. In a hypertext, the reader controls the sequence of reading by choosing how to navigate among these chunks of text by various electronic links.

    The term hypermedia" was coined to mean a hypertext that uses mutliple media. In other words, hypermedia is a collection of multimedia materials with multiple possible arrangements and sequences. Hypertext and hypermedia are "electronic" concepts that can only exist in a computer-based environment. Only in a computer-based environment can materials can be linked and organized in multiple ways simultaneously, and searched, sorted and navigated in hundreds of possible combinations by different users.

    Imagine, for example, a large comprehensive textbook on the history of the United States. In a sense, a print version of that textbook is already "multimedia": that is, in addition to text, it might have pictures, maps, graphs, charts, timelines; furthermore, the text is made up of many different texts, being a combination of words written by the author, quotations from historical figures, perhaps commentary by other historians, and so on. But while the textbook could be thought of as a text using multiple media and materials, it is not a multimedia hypertext (or hypermedia) because, as a printed book, it can only be arranged in one order; its materials can only be accessed in the one way that the author and the publisher arranged them. True, a reader can access the print text in non-linear ways by using the index at the back of the book, or by jumping around. Still, the text itself has only one arrangement and one hierarchy of topics; and the reader's ability to navigate the materials is limited by the table of contents and the index.

    Furthermore, a printed history textbook is limited by the constraints of size and practicality. Only so much information can comfortably fit between two covers of a printed book. Such practical issues have important consequences for the kinds of materials that go into the hands of readers. Limitation of size means that it is more practical to write history books that synthesize and make reference to large bodies of historical documents without being able to include very much or any of the documents, themselves--even though, for the historian, such documents are part of the vital material of history.

    Now imagine a history textbook in electronic form, constructed as a work of hypermedia: how would that work be different from a printed text? First, you could fill that "book" with a far greater number of materials than you could fit between two covers of a printed book (a CD-ROM compact disk, for example, can hold the equivalent of 300,000 pages of printed material). Second, you could have a book that was truly "multimedia" in that, in addition to text, photographs, charts, and timelines, you could have audio (such as folksong recordings, famous speeches), and video (such as newsreels, film clips). Third, an electronic textbook could be constructed in an entirely different way from a printed textbook: it could have dozens of potential organizations, and thousands of internal linkages that could take the reader from one related idea to the next, in ways that would infinitely vary depending on the context of the reading experience and the interests of the reader.

    Consequently, the structure of such a "text" would not be limited to the single storyline or synthesis offered by the author, but would become an intricate web of interrelationships, something approaching the complexity of history. In discussing the transformations that ensued in turning the print version of the history book Who Built America? into a multimedia CD-ROM, editors Roy Rosenzweig and Steve Brier noted that the very nature of the "book" changed:

    The 'spine of this computer book is a basic survey of American history from 1876-1914. . . . Added to--and in the process transforming--this textual survey are nearly two hundred 'excursions,' which branch off from the main body of the text. Those excursions contain about seven hundred source documents in various media that allow students as well as interested general readers to go beyond (and behind) the printed page and to immerse themselves in the primary and secondary sources that professional historians use to make sense of the past.
    In the process of making the CD-ROM Who Built America?, by newly linking large amounts of interrelated materials, a print textbook became an engaging and versatile, multimedia archive of information. These new kinds of multimedia resources consequently can serve multiple purposes for many different users. Teachers could use such a text as a resource tool, gathering background information for class lectures and discovering primary documents to enrich assignments; simliarly, students, at all levels of capability, could use such a resource to begin the discovery process about historical meaning and materials.

    Return to the table of contents

    Why use interactive multimedia?

    We've seen that interactive multimedia, by definition, has the capacity to deliver large amounts of materials in multiple forms, and to deliver them in an integrated evironment that allows users to control the reading and viewing experience. How then do these defining characteristics and virtues translate into benefits in an educational environment?

    First of all, multimedia programs bring to education the extraordinary storage and delivery capabilities of computerized material. This is especially important for schools, libraries, and learning institutions where books are difficult to obtain and update. Multimedia is a powerful and efficient source for acquiring learning resources. Multimedia can also provide educational institutions access to other kinds of inaccessible materials, such as hard to find historical films, rare sound recordings of famous speeches, illustrations from difficult to obtain periodicals, and so on. Multimedia can put primary and secondary source materials at the fingertips of users in even the remotest locations from major research facilities.

    Secondly, it is not just sheer access to these materials that makes multimedia a powerful tool, but the control over those materials that it gives to its users. Interactive multimedia programs enable the user to manipulate these materials through a wide variety of powerful linking, sorting, searching and annotating activities. Each of these activities can be made to reinforce and inculcate various intellectual skills, in addition to satisfying certain cognitive needs for quality learning, such as the ability to follow through links at the immediate moment when curiosity is aroused, and the ability to view different forms of the same information side-by-side.

    Furthermore, interactive multimedia programs ususally integrate some combination of orientation tools, such as timelines, graphs, glossaries, and other pedagogical guides. These kinds of tools further point to the third major benefit of multimedia: the personalization or individualization of the learning experience.

    By allowing users to control the sequence and the pacing of the materials, multimedia packages facilitate greater individualization in learning, allowing students to proceed at their own pace in a tailored learning environment. Furthermore, interactive multimedia can be a powerful learning and teaching tool because it engages multiple senses. Students using multimedia are reading, seeing, hearing, and actively manipulating materials. As one educator enthusiastically put it,

    As humans, we seem hard-wired for multiple input. Consider that we remember only about 10% of what we read; 20%, if we hear it; %30, if we can see visuals related to what we're hearing; %50, if we watch someone do something while explaining it; but almost 90%, if we do the job ourselves-- if only as a simulation. In other words, interactive multimedia--properly developed and properly implemented-- could revolutionize education. (Menn, 1993)
    Although "revolutionize" may be a bit optimistic, interactive multimedia is a promising medium for reinforcing, extending, and "supplementing" what goes on in the classroom with print materials, lectures and classroom discussions.

    I use the term "supplementing" quite intentionally, however, as the supplementary dimension of multimedia materials is important to keep in mind. Incorporating multimedia into the curriculum does not mean "throwing out the printed books." Most teachers who incorporate some kind of interactive multimedia into their teaching do so to enhance printed materials and the core course content. Multimedia materials help students and teachers by way of reinforcement and extension, not substitition. What hypermedia provides is access to materials and unique personalized control over them. In other words, interactive multimedia isn't about replacing books, but about replacing the absence of books; hypermedia doesn t do what books do, but what books can t do.

    Return to the table of contents

    What kinds of multimedia are available?

    Educational multimedia packages and programs come in the same range and variety as printed textbooks, and all other teaching and reference materials. Some multimedia programs are broad and comprehensive; some are more focused. Some programs address themselves to introductory students in a particular subject; some are suitable for more advanced students, or for teachers and scholars, or for the general public; and some work well at all ends of the spectrum depending how they are used. Similarly, some multimedia packages are more focused on primary texts and their contexts, while others are designed to bring the user into some kind of sophisticated contact with many different kinds of materials and processes.

    There are a lot of different, viable ways to categorize the different kinds of multimedia packages that are currently available. This Guide and Bibliography uses the following five categories:

    (I) Educational Packages: General & Comprehensive History
    These are coursware packages with broad coverage, both in terms of chronology and comprehensiveness of content. These packages contain extensive print and graphic materials, as well as (usually) audio and video materials. In this category, which includes a program such as Who Built America?, the rationale of the design is to create a rich information environment that can either serve as a supplementary "curriculum" to a variety of historical and cultural courses, or as an informative, stand-alone research environment for teachers, scholars and the general public. These programs often come in school and library editions, and are often keyed to printed texts.
    (II) Educational Package: Focused Topics & Collections
    These educational packages are similar to those in category (I), but with particular themes or disciplinary focus. These programs can function as either teaching or reference tools on particular topics. Two examples of programs in this category include American Poetry: The Nineteenth Century and Origins of the Constitution. This is the broadest and most inclusive of the categories and consequently, programs falling into this type vary quite widely in depth and quality of design.
    (III) Historical Simulations
    These are educational packages designed as computer-based simulations or role playing exercises. Simulations are far more common at the lower grade levels than at the college level. It is likely that this will become an increasingly popular kind of program for higher learning levels because these programs particularly exploit the capabilities of computing techology to calculate variables and simulate possible scenarios. SimCity, for example, is a very sophisticated simulation program for urban planning that has been around for a relatively long time. In this Bibliography, The Election of 1912 is described as an example of an historical simulation. The incorporation of simulation exercises into classroom teaching significantly affects the dynamics of the classroom, as it recenters the focus of classroom teaching away from the teacher and the printed text toward collaborative group work among students, focused around contingent problems of decision making and hypothesis testing.
    (IV) Electronic Texts
    In the broadest terms, electronic texts are primary literary, historical and cultural texts in electronic form, loaded into a software environment with search and anaylsis capabilities, and sometimes, with multimedia linking. There are currently several different kinds of electronic text packages available on the market. One kind of electronic text, such as Voyager's Expanded Book series, presents text literally as electronic "books," with a printed page-like design, and with search and annotation functions. A different kind of electronic text is IBM's Illuminated Books, containing well-known primary texts in multimedia packages with a rich assortment of pre-linked contextual and background material. Still yet a third kind of text, distributed in what is known as WordCruncher software, is neither multimedia nor hypertext, but offers large amounts of primary texts inside software capable of very powerful and complex search and indexing functions. All of the various kinds of electronic texts lend themselves to a range of teaching and research activities.
    (V) Interactive Educational Reference Tools
    These are educational software packages and collections that function primarily as reference tools, but in the context of education and classroom teaching or library situations. A lot of different electronic tools could be considered interactive reference tools. Only a portion of these tools are interactive multimedia. For this Guide and Bibliography, interactive reference tools refer only to those packages that are primarily educational and (usually) multimedia. An example of this category is TIME Almanac 93. Other kinds of interactive reference tools include geographic and demographic programs, mulitmedia newspaper databases, and so on.
    Naturally, these categories are not mutually exclusive, and in fact many multimedia programs are characterized by more than one category. But even an imperfect categorization is helpful to begin sorting out which programs would be most appropriate for which contexts. For example, if you were to begin building a small, foundational multimedia collection in a school library, you would want to choose at least one general and comprehensive educational package (of category I), at least one example of an interactive reference tool (of catgory V), and some, appropriate combination of electronic texts and more specialized collections from categories IV and II. Similarly, if you are considering the incorporation of multimedia into your teaching you would want to make choices based on the nature and extent of available resources.

    It may, however, be easier to imagine the kind of multimedia programs that would be appropriate for your educational context than it is to imagine specific scenarios in which you would utilize them. The next section discusses in more detail a variety of scenarios in which multimedia can be incorporated into classrooms and libraries.

    Return to the table of contents

    How can multimedia be incorporated into educational contexts?

    Rather than initially considering how a specific multimedia program could be incorporated into a particular course, it may be more useful to think about how a shared multimedia resource collection, of multiple programs, can be used by different institutional constituencies in different ways.

    Below are listed five hypothetical scenarios and possible uses for the integration of multimedia materials into educational contexts.

    Use Scenario #1: Building a Library-Based Multimedia Resource for Teachers

    Before even considering the idea of implementing interactive multimedia in the classroom, for students, consider the productive use of multimedia as an efficient and effective resource for teachers. This scenario requires only a single multimedia station, placed in a library or a teachers' resource center, with a core of multimedia programs available.

    As a teachers' resource, a solid multimedia collection can be used in a variety of valuable ways. Most directly, it can be a resource for teachers who are gathering background and contextual material for their courses. With multimedia resources, teachers can efficiently research and design lectures and assignments, as well as generate ideas and texts for clusters of materials. Because of the rich, integrative nature of the best interactive programs, multimedia can also offer teachers provocative resources for curricular design, modelling dynamic ways that knowledge can be constructed and portrayed. This can be a valuable tool both for teachers preparing their classes, as well as teachers in training.

    Mutlimedia can also serve as a teachers' resource by providing a tool for enhancing lecture and classroom presentations. An LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) that works in conjunction with a standard overhead projector allows the lecturer to project what is on the computer screen. The "resource collection" feature in the program Who Built America? or many of the annotation features in the Voyager or IBM's electronic books are particularly conducive to this kind of presentation.

    Return to the table of contents

    Use Scenario #2: Building a Library-Based Multimedia Resource for Students

    The library-based multimedia resource that you build for students can be, of course, the same resource that is being used by teachers for the purposes outlined in the first scenario. But with somewhat different uses. A library-based, interactive multimedia resource complements the other collections in a library. In addition to interactive reference tools, multimedia programs such as electronic texts, as well as general and focused educational packages, can provide valuable enhancements to the library collection. Even before teachers begin incorporating the use of multimedia into classroom contexts, their students can begin using library-based multimedia for research papers and writing assignments, or as tools in preparing for examinations, or even for pleasure and curiosity.

    Return to the table of contents

    Use Scenario #3: Using Multimedia Texts as Supplementary Curricular Materials for Particular Courses

    Once a foundational multimedia resource collection exists in an institution--either in a library or some kind of resource center- -teachers can begin considering ways to incorporate multimedia resources into teaching. This kind of incorporation can occur at all levels of intensity and centrality. The level of impact that necessitates the least amount of revision in teaching style and classroom materials is the implementation of multimedia as a supplementary curriculum to the one covered in class. In this scenario, students are using multimedia programs to extend discussions and assignments in class on an informal basis.

    At low levels of integration, teachers can ask students to use multimedia as one of their resources for doing supplemental research to topics and texts covered in class. That is, putting in "lab" time at the multimedia station in order to augment an understanding of regular readings. At higher levels of coordination, a teacher might key particular class assignments to particular sections of multimedia packages, giving students broad reading questions that they must answer using mutlimedia resources. Or, at an even higher level of coordination, teachers might choose texts that are keyed to multimedia programs, such as general history programs like Who Built America? and American Impressions, or use electronic texts for research and analysis. This latter usage is explained more fully in scenario #4.

    Return to the table of contents

    Use Scenario #4: Using Electronic Texts as Tools for Teaching and Reinforcing Analytic and Reading Skills

    Electronic texts packages are excellent resources for teaching students a wide variety of "literacy" skills, from reinforcing reading skills (particularly in second languages) to more complicated analytic skills. Electronic texts and electronic books easily lend themselves to supplementing classroom activity when teachers key the texts they teach to electronic texts available in multimedia packages. Some of the uses that students can make of electronic book programs include: strengthening a second reading of a text with searching and marking features; doing search and analysis work in preparation for writing papers on texts or preparing for exams; and preparing student-led class presentations on particular texts or subjects.

    Teachers can also work with students, using electronic texts, to reinforce close reading skills, using search and find functions to trace thematic and formal patterns in literature, or to engage in rhetorical analysis of sophisticated political and philosophical documents. Electronic texts can also be a useful presentation tool for instructors to use in class to focus lectures or class discussion on particular passages, or to compare similar passages by placing them side by side on the screen.

    Return to the table of contents

    Use Scenario #5: Orienting an Entire Course Around the Use and Creation of Multimedia Materials

    The most fully integrated level of using multimedia is to build an entire course around the use, and perhaps the creation, of multimedia materials. As multimedia packages become more common, some teachers are looking to multimedia as a major structuring device for their classes. It is at this level of integration that one would consider using an historical simulation, structuring at least a whole unit, if not a whole course, around the materials provided in an information-rich multimedia package.

    Usually, an historical simulation would stand at the center of the course or unit, with supplementary materials surrounding it. Teachers who use historical simulations or other kinds of multimedia as the center of their courses are usually very "activity" oriented, decentering themselves from the learning process in favor of letting students, individually or in groups, engage in elaborate exercises of discovery and creation. This kind of teaching (and learning) is not for everyone. But for those who engage in it, there is a level of involvement by students that is difficult to match through any other technique.

    Another fairly intense mode of multimedia integration involves the creation of multimedia collections, or the creation of small multimedia modules that extend programs already in use. These kinds of projects can widely vary in sophistication. However, at the lower end of complexity a number of multimedia programs have certain low-level authoring or annotation tools built into the software. Many programs allow students to annotate passages, or author essays, that can then be linked onto the existing materials. Or, as a separate example, The Voyager Company markets an Expanded ToolKit that resembles the software used for its Expanded Books. This software makes it easy for students (and teachers) to create their own multimedia books. This kind of software authoring tool (and there are several others) gives teachers the opportunity to engage students in learning projects that involve actively making multimedia collections. Not only do these kinds of materials enrich the particular course setting, but allow students to engage in creating something that becomes a permanent legacy of their learning.

    Return to the table of contents

    What are the technical requirements for using multimedia?

    So far we ve discussed what multimedia is and how to use it. The question remains, then, how to get this exciting combination of text, graphics, video and sound to run on your equipment. Predictably, interactive multimedia involves many more demands on computer technology than word processing. Multimedia programs that only involve text and graphics have relatively modest demands; audio or sound takes more power and memory to run; motion video requires the most.

    Most of the programs discussed in this Guide and Bibliography are programs that run on CD-ROMs (compact discs), though in a few cases they run from loadable diskettes. Therefore, most of the programs in this project require a cd-rom player. None of the programs discussed or implied in these materials involves laser disc or video disc technology.

    There are three basic questions that you should ask if you are interested in acquiring interactive multimedia programs:

    QUESTION #1: What do you need to know before buying multimedia?

    The first and most important thing you need to know is what kind of computer technology equipment you have available to you, whether in the library, computer lab, or classroom. Next, you need to know what platforms are being run on the computer technology that is available to you. Most multimedia, college- level educational packages run in either Macintosh or IBM- Compatible DOS or Windows environments. Although there are some DOS only programs, increasingly IBM compatible programs require Windows. The only exception to these two platforms are the IBM Illuminated Books--annotated in the bibliography--that run in the OS/2 operating environment rather than DOS. You also need to determine if the equipment available to you is powerful enough in terms of speed and memory to run multimedia packages, and whether the computer technology available to you has all the right components to run multimedia. This may sound like a lot of questions to answer, but there really are only about a half dozen aspects to a multimedia system that you need to account for. The next section addresses how to clarify whether or not your computer technology is sufficient to run multimedia programs.

    Return to the table of contents

    QUESTION #2: What do you need to have to run multimedia?

    In very general terms, to run multimedia programs you need a computer with a reasonably fast CPU (Computer Processor Unit, or the "brain"), a sufficiently large hard disk (the storage), sufficient RAM (the operating memory), a CD-ROM player, a video card (installed in back of the computer to support video and graphics), a sound card (to support audio), and a mouse.

    These are the basics. There is no single set of answers to the next obvious set of questions, such as, "how fast is reasonably fast?" or "how big is sufficient?" Because the term "multimedia" varies so much and can imply so many different kinds of programs, members of the computer industry got together and defined a basic standard that computers would meet for them to call themselves "multimedia computers." This standard is called The MPC Standard (Multimedia Personal Computer). This standard applies to all IBM compatible computers (Macintoshes are discussed later in the section "About Macintosh"). The MPC Standard and MPC Logo is applied to any computer that meets the minimum requirements for being called a multimedia computer. Some software packages use the label MPC, as well, to indicate that they will run on MPC compatible equipment.

    The MPC standard had not been around very long before newer and more elaborate programs began coming out. Now there is a second set of standards called MPC2. Both of these standards are minimal level standards. For most components of a multimedia system, slightly higher specifications are an even better idea. Here is a comparison of MPC, MPC2, and "Even Better" specifications for the key components of a multimedia system.

    The MPC Standard:

    CPU: 16 MHz 386SX
    Hard Disk: 30 Mb
    RAM: 2 Mb
    CD-ROM: single speed (150 kilobytes per/second)
    Video Card: VGA (640x480 with 64 colors)
    Floppy Disk: 3 1/2 inch
    Sound Card: 8-bit with 8 note synthesizer.

    The MPC2 Standard:

    CPU: 25 MHz 486SX
    Hard Disk: 160 Mb
    RAM: 4 Mb
    CD-ROM: double speed (300 kilobytes per/second)
    Video Card: 640x480 with 65,536 colors
    Floppy Disk: 3 1/2 inch
    Sound Card: 16-bit with 8-note synthesizer; MIDI playback

    "Even Better"

    CPU: 50 MHz 486DX or better
    Hard Disk: 340 Mb
    RAM: 8 Mb
    CD-ROM: triple speed (450 kilobytes per/second)
    Video Card: 1024x768 with 65,536 colors
    Floppy Disk: 3 1/2 inch
    Sound Card: 16-bit with 8-note synthesizer; MIDI playback


    MOUSE and JOYSTICK: the MPC standard also calls for the inclusion of a joystick (joysticks are used especially in connection with multimedia games. None of the programs in this Guide or Bibliography require a joystick). All multimedia programs do require a mouse, which should be part of any basic multimedia package.

    ABOUT SOUND: Although the basic MPC standard calls for an 8-bit sound card, you do not absolutely need to have a sound card to run all multimedia programs. Windows 3.1 comes equipped with a sound driver that can project basic sounds with minimal range. If you re running Windows 3.1 you can get by without a sound card.

    ABOUT COMPATIBILITY: Even with these basic components, it is important to know that not all components are compatible with each other. When adding components to a computer system it is important to check with the proper technicians or the manufacturer to insure compatibility.

    So, what does this all mean for the question of whether you have the right equipment to run the kind of programs discussed in this Guide and Bibliography?

    The best advice is this: if you already own all or most of the necessary equipment to run multimedia programs according to the basic MPC standard, you will pretty much be able to run all of the IBM-compatible programs recommended in this Guide and Bibliography. (Text, graphics, and sound, for example, will run fine on a 386SX machine; demanding video needs a 486 machine). If you are in a position to buy new equipment, either a complete multimedia system or to add one or two components (for example, you have everything you need but a CD-ROM Drive), then buy the best and fastest components that you can, and you won t regret it (for example, if you re buying a CD-ROM, you should try to buy a double-speed at least). Multimedia programs are only going to get better, bigger and more demanding. That has been the trend in the last few years and there is no reason to believe it will change.


    Macintosh computers are already better equipped, in general, for multimedia because of their graphics environment. Basic multimedia standards for the Macintosh (supporting sound, video, text and graphics) includes:

    Any color capable Macintosh (25 MHz or higher);
    A 68030 processor or better;
    System 6.0.7 or higher, but preferably System 7
    4 Mb of RAM, but preferably 8Mb of RAM
    13 inch Color Monitor
    Double Speed CD-ROM

    Return to the table of contents

    QUESTION #3: What do you need to know to run interactive multimedia programs once you re acquired them and the proper equipment?

    If you have insured that you have the right equipment to run mutlimedia, and that the programs you ve acquired are compatible with the platform you are running, then you have done the hard part already. Installing and running CD-ROM programs takes very little technical skill. Most CD-ROMs come self-contained with installation software and simple instructions for installation. Installing and running a CD-ROM usually involves only a couple of steps. In some cases it is as simple as pointing the mouse and clicking. In most other cases it is rarely more involved than typing a couple of commands that are provided by the instructions that come with the program. Usually a CD-ROM program reads some information onto your hard disk (which is why you need the most room possible). Once the CD-ROM is installed, the program runs jointly from both your hard disk and the CD-ROM drive automatically. Beyond a basic knowledge of the mouse and the menus of the particular platform you re using, no technical knowledge is needed to operate interactive multimedia programs.

    AVAILABILITY AND ORDERING (see also list of publishers and distributors after "For Further Reading" Section).

    Multimedia programs are always available directly from the publishers. Many programs are also available from distributors who distribute a wide range of programs. Often a distributor can get you material faster than the publisher, but not always. Also, distributors often bundle mutliple programs into packages at discounts. This can be a good way to acquire programs, though one should be careful that the packages are the kinds of programs that you want.

    Multimedia programs vary widely in price from $19.95 to $500.00. Many programs come in two different forms: standard retail versions (that is, single copies) and school and library editions. These latter often include multiple copies and extensive supporting materials. As a rule of thumb, if you are spending over $200 (US Dollars) on a multimedia program, it should probably come with more than one site license (that is, more than one copy) and excellent documentation and supporting materials. This is not a rigid rule, but a caution.

    Return to the table of contents


    Menn, Don. "Multimedia in Education: Arming Our Kids For the Future." PC World 11 (October, 1993).

    Rosenzweig, Roy, and Steve Brier, Historians and Hypertext: Is It More than Hype," Perspectives 32 (March, 1994): 3-6.


    General Works on Multimedia and Hypermedia:

    Ambron, S. and K. Hooper, eds. Interactive Multimedia: Visions of Multimedia for Developers, Educators and Information Providers Redmond, WA: Microsoft Press, 1988.

    Barrett, Edward, ed. The Society of Text: Hypertext, Hypermedia, and the Social Construction of Information. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1989.

    Bevilacqua, Ann F. "Hypertext: Behind the Hype." American Libraries 20 (2), (February, 1989): 158-162 Delaney, Paul and George Landow. eds. Hypermedia and Literary Studies. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1991.

    Galbreath, Jeremy. "The Educational Buzzword of the 1990's: Multimedia, or Is It Hypermedia, or Interactive Multimedia or...?" Educational Technology 32 (April, 1992): 15-19.

    Hirschbul, John J. "Multimedia: Why Invest?" Interactive Learning International 8 (October-December, 1992): 321-33.

    Megarry, Jacquetta. "Hypertext and Compact Discs: The Challenge of Multi-Media Learning." British Journal of Educational Technology 19 (October, 1988): 172-83.

    Picciano, Anthony G. "The Five Points: The Design of a Multimedia Program on Social History." Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia 2 (1993):129-47.

    Rathbone, Andy. Multimedia and CD-ROMS for Dummies. San Mateo, CA: IDG Books Worldwide, 1994.

    Reeves, Thomas C. "Ten Commandments for the Evaluation of Interactive Multimedia in Higher Education." Journal of Computing in Higher Education 2 (Spring, 1991): 84-113.

    Works on Multimedia, Hypermedia, and Classroom Teaching:

    Campbell, Robert. "(I Learned It) through the Grapevine: Hypermedia at Work in the Classroom." American Libraries 20 (March 1989): 200-02, 204-05).

    Fernlund, Phyllis Maxey, and Susan Cooper-Shoup. "A Realistic View of Hypermedia in the Social Studies Classroom." Social Studies Review 30 (Spring, 1991): 66-70.

    Flanders, Bruce. "Multimedia Programs to Reach an MTV Generation." American Libraries 23 (February, 1992): 135-137.

    Jonassen, David H. and Heinz Mandl, eds. Designing Hypertext/Hypermedia for Learning. Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag, 1990.

    Joyce, Michael. "Siren Shapes: Exploratory and Constructive Hypertexts." Academic Computing 3 (1988): 14.

    Landow, George. Hypertext: The Convergence of Contemporary Critical Theory and Technology. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1993.

    Menn, Don. "Multimedia in Education: Arming Our Kids For the Future." PC World 11 (October, 1993).

    Paske, R. "Hypermedia: A Brief History and Progress Report." T.H.E. Journal 18 (1990): 53-56.

    Rosenzweig, Roy, and Steve Brier, Historians and Hypertext: Is It More than Hype," Perspectives 32 (March, 1994): 3-6.

    Schick, James B. Teaching History With a Computer: A Complete Guide. Chicago: Lyceum Books, 1990.

    Journals and Periodicals With Interest in Hypermedia, Multimedia and Education

    Journal of Hypermedia and Education
    History Microcomputer Review
    Social Science Computer Review
    Journal of Computing in Higher Education
    T.H.E. (Technological Horizons in Education) Journal
    Computers and Education
    Interactive Learning International
    Educational Technology

    Sources for Reviews of Multimedia Programs and Courseware (in addition to the above)

    New Media
    PC World
    MAC World
    Software Reviews on File

    List of Publishers and Distributors

    Baker & Taylor Software (805) 522-9800
    Bureau of Electronic Publishing (201) 808-2700
    Compact Publishing (202) 244-4770
    Compton's NewMedia (619) 929-2500
    Context Systems Inc. (215) 675-5000
    D.C. Heath Company (800) 854-8454
    Delorme Mapping (207) 865-4171
    Eden Interactive (415) 241-1450
    Educorp (619) 536-9999
    Eduquest (800) 426-4338
    Facts on File (800) 322-8755
    Grolier Electronic Publishing (203) 797-3530
    Harcourt Brace College Publishers (800) 447-9457
    IBM Multimedia Publishing Studio (800) 898-VTGA
    Ingram Micro (800) 456-8000
    Johnston & Company (801) 756-1111
    Knowledge Adventure (818) 542-4200
    McGraw-Hill (212) 337-5961
    MECC (612) 569-1500
    MediAlive (408) 752-8500
    Media Resources (800) 395-3333
    Merisel (310) 615-3080
    Nararre Corp. (612) 535-8333
    National Geographic Society (800) 368-2728
    New Ray Software (410) 366-1452
    Quanta Press (612) 379-3956
    Queue (800) 232-2224
    The Software Toolworks (415) 883-3000
    Sony Electronic Publishing Co. (800) 654-8802
    Time Warner Interactive Group (818) 955-9999
    The Voyager Co. (212) 431-5199