Guidelines for Using Multimedia in Bb
by John Dono and Ursula Hoffmann
Adding images, audio and video clips to a course sounds like a lot of
fun. But it is also time consuming and often frustrating -- as the
people attending the Bb workshops had a chance to observe.
Therefore, before you start
Evaluate relevance to the subject matter of the course;
the more effort it takes to develop and use the materials
the more central it should be to the goals of the course.
- Link to external sites with
In most cases this is the easiest and most effective solution.
creators of the external site may have already created or obtained the
material from other sources, digitized it if necessary, compressed it
and saved it in a suitable web format, provided supplemental
information and even provided versions for different connection
speeds. This solution also minimizes copyright issues.
- Link to your own small clip.
Multimedia file data take up a lot of space and, if large, take a lot
of time to access.
For large files, such as lectures, video, Powerpoint
presentations with large images or mm clips, consider
distributing materials on CD or
using standard technology in your classroom
putting them on your website providing that your server can handle
Very small multimedia clips can easily be added to a Bb course
document, BUT you should
provide controls (start/stop,
provide information on size, file formats, helper
provide information on and links to sources of required
viewers, players etc.
provide materials in alternative formats (e.g. transcripts
of audio, alternate text for graphics and video)
provide materials for different connection speeds.
test on several computers (not
just your own, at home or in the office, but also in the lab you or
your students will use)
test with common browsers and browser versions (IE,
test on both Macintosh and Windows platform
inform students of
software/hardware requirements prior to
start of class
run a test of all multimedia materials with students early
in the semester.
The Lehman ITR labs do not have
audio -- the Open Area lets students use headphones for audio -- the
Humanities Lab (C249) has speakers at the instructor station.
The three most common free browser
plugins are Windows Media Player, Quicktime (for PCs and Macs), Real
Player. They grab the various file formats of multimedia files in the
order in which they are installed, i.e., Real Player if installed last,
will grab the .wav format away from the previously installed plugins.
On one's own computers (yours or those of your students if they work at
home), one can control the associations.
In the Lehman labs, one cannot.
So, problems will arise. (An example in the Humanities lab: a Bb file
downloaded to a temporary directory open for downloading but Real
Player could only open files in a different directory.)
If all of your students work at home, this is no problem.
Downloads of large files may time
out if you or your students have a dial-on/modem/slow connection. (An
on a website: a Powerpoint Presentation containing very big image files
times out, the computer dead-ends.)
THEREFORE CONSIDER CAREFULLY -- AND
TEST, TEST, TEST....
The Blackboard server may be slow, especially at times of heavy use, so
links to websites tend to work more efficiently when accessed directly,
rather than from within Bb.