An accompanying rationale

Introduction

There are a great number of teachers and designers of educational materials who pay attention on multimedia as a tool of teaching in educational field.

As Collins and Brown(1988 cited in Herrington and Oliver, 1995) said that 'the interactive multimedia program can assist students to focus attention directly on their own thought processes'.

Blogs as a vehicle of multimedia in education obtain increasingly popular in recent days and even become the main stream of virtual communication between teachers and students. Blogs indiscriminately allow people to post their entries and to submit their comments in the front.( Yuan and Meszaros 2006)

This article will mainly focus on the design of blogs as a tool of multimedia in the field of education. 'The use of weblogs can help instructors to require students to interact and study on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, rather than leaving all the study to the time of the final examination.'( Lujan-Mora, 2006) Therefore, we design an educational blog to teach students how to learn computer hardware. For the students, the blog offers a platform to communicate with students and improve their hardware knowledge; For the instructors, the blog can share information and provide instructions for students. Additionally, bloggers are able to learn about a new blogging platform and gain practical experience in the application of blogs.

This rationale will mainly be separately three parts. In the part 1, I will describe the context of the blog; In the part 2, I will discuss the understanding of creating the blog; In the last part, I will show you how the material will work and how it will meet the needs of the users.

The context of this assignment

I will fulfill a design of software with other students together in our course-- George and Dong. We make use of knowledge taught in the Multimedia: design and development course and our own ideas to design an educational blog. 'WordPress is a free installation resource which has many useful plug-ins, comment spam-fighting features, and user-friendly interface. It requires more technology knowledge.' (Hong, 2008) Therefore, we firstly adopts the Wordpress software to create the educational blog.

The design of the blog mainly services for students in secondary schools in their computer science course and offer some hardware knowledge about computer.

The context of this blog is mainly focus on the education of computer hardware, including CPU, Main Memory, Motherboard in the field of computer. We want to design four menus: Home, CPU, Main Memory, Motherboard. Home page is the introduction of the content of the blog. In the center of the homepage, there are some links to other three pages. Each page has their introduction of the components separately in the three pages. CPU page contains the history of CPU, the basics of CPU, the quiz of CPU and the further reading list; Main Memory page includes computer memory basics, the memory installation, a quiz of memory and some readings; Motherboard page is the main focus of our blog. We will pay more attention on this part where it contains basics, main modules, definition, back panel, video, form factors, tasks, exercises and two quizzes.

Before we begin to create the blog focusing on teaching the hardware computer, we consider two factors:

On the one hand, George is a teacher in the field of computer education. He has practical experience in the education and familiar with related knowledge about computer hardware. I and Dong are the students, majoring management and information system. Although we have no any experience in the field of education, we have professional knowledge about hardware computer. Therefore, we chose the computer hardware as the context of our blog.

On the other hand, our blog is mainly focus on pupils who have no high level of intelligent to deal with and receive other complex knowledge of computer. Hardware are visible physics, which can be understood easily. Thus, the context of the blog must be clear and simple. The structure of the bog, including the design of sub-menus, should be easy and convenient for pupils to learn hardware. Those material of each component are obviously showed.

The understanding of designing relevant issues in our blog

In this blog, we will use some tools to help us make the blog more abundant and clear, such as Hot Potatoes, video, popup, images and so on. In the following, let me explain why we need to use them.

Hot Potatoes.

After students learned the knowledge of hardware, it'd better test their level of learning as a way of exercise. Therefore, a small test can help them evaluate the level of learning instead of examination on the hard paper. We intend to use a free software called Hot Potatoes to produce multiple-choice tests, short-answer quizzes, crosswords and exercises in our blog quizzes.

'The software is straightforward to use and tests can be produced quickly and easily by busy teachers. Students find the tests enjoyable and are motivated by them but they enjoy producing the tests too, the reward being that good ones can be added to the web for their peers to enjoy.'(Clinch and Richards, 2002) Therefore, we use hot potatoes to create some quizzes in our blog, which not only bring some convenient, but also can activate the students' interesting for learning the knowledge. Furthermore, 'students can correct their own work based on the clues and feedback set up in advances by the teacher'.(Winke and MacGregor, 2001)

In addition, Hot Potatoes is a free software, which can be downloaded from the internet. It is convenient and low cost.

Video

Video is an important method to show the knowledge visually. We embed three videos to explain the knowledge.

Video media can bring many benefits for teaching. 'Readers can account for the changing complexity of the text passages, e.g. by adapting their reading speed, by skipping unimportant passages, or by re-reading difficult passages.'(Bazerman 1985; Guthrie & Mosenthal 1987) Video has a direct vision and 'viewer follow the film according to its inherent speed of presentation without such adaptive opportunities.'(Schwan and Reimpp, 2004) For example, in the main memory page, we used a video to explain how to install the main memory. Students can follow the video to learn how to install memory, which looks like intuitionist. And the learner can be allowed to watch the video and practice installation simultaneously.(Schwan and Reimpp, 2004)

What is more, the video can be stopped at arbitrary points. The participants were instructed to proceed through the learning phase until they were able to operate correctly.(Schwan and Reimpp, 2004) All in all, video can lead to more efficient forms of learning, so we chose it as a specific feature of education on our blog.

Animation and Audio

'Although animation can offer a very dramatic visual effect, the efficacy of animated presentations on cognition is quite subtle' (Rieber, 1990 cited in Lee and Boling, 1999). 'Audio can draw and hold learners' attention to the most important parts of the display, complement the visual information on the screen, support the learner reading the text on the screen' (Aarntzen, 1993 cited in Lee and Boling, 1999)

'Voki is a free service that allows you to create personalized speaking avatars'.(Voki.com, 2007)

It enables users to express themselves on the web by using a character to talk for or their own voice. We use it to describe our content of hardware, which not only can teach them relevant knowledge by listening ways, but also can arise their interests for learning.

Furthermore, 'Voki is easily embedded in blogs and the accents can be changed -useful for classrooms worldwide and language lessons'(CEGSA, 2008). 'It includes text-to-speech in a number of languages and, even better, can incorporate speech recorded by individuals'(University of Richmond, 2008). As a result of teaching students who speak and understand English in our blog, the accents of our voki tool is English. If we need to teach other students who speak different language, such as Spanish, Chinese, we will edit the voki by the other language.

Images.

From our blogs, you can find that almost every page is inserted in images. Images' function is to absorb and keep attention, and facilitate learning from text materials. (Lee and Boling, 1999) Compared with pure words, images looks like visualization. 'Research lead to the common conclusion that subjects benefit more from a text-picture document when the picture is displayed either before or within the text' (Denis 1984; Glenberg and Kruley 1992; Koran and Koran 1980). It means images are encouraged to describe the text. 'Don't use images with too much detail at a small scale as this can be lost on screen.' (Lee and Boling, 1999)

For example, in the main memory of our blog, we intend to introduce the concepts of the memory by the words. If students just read this words, they maybe not understand totally the concepts of the memory and even do not know what the specific memory is. But we can add a picture to describe the practical memory. It is easy for students to understand the concepts of memory.

Contact form

Contact form is used in our blog to receive feedback, 'which is a drop in form for users to contact you'(WordPress.org). 'It is now a fast and easy-to-use plugin for WordPress web logs.' (Beast-Blog.com)

In our educational blog, instructors need to communicate with students and receive feedback and question about this course from students. Besides, the blog needs to develop better, so it must get some suggestions and critique from the students' feedback. Therefore, we design contact form in main memory to receive the feedback about the video. Students will send their ideas by email.

Popup

In main memory page, we add ROM, BIOS, OS, RAM popup windows to explain more. 'A pop-up window appears on the screen only when the user decides to activate it ( by way of a pointing device).' (Betrancourt and Bisseret 1998) When the user clicks on a link, a new window opens and displays page. We use the popup screen to explain more for some words. As Stark (1990) said, 'the information was better recalled when inserted in a pop-up window than when put in plain text.'

Furthermore, sometimes, some students have known the meaning of these concepts and don't need to lean them. Therefore, they don't need to click it. But some students who don't know the knowledge need more explanations. It also can offer relevant knowledge in the text according to the demands of users and does not occupy the place of the whole text.

Links

According to the example of Rob Drummond' blog, we can use some URL links in our blog, such as the reading list page and other pages. When readers want to know more resources, they can click the links to access to other web-pages. This way is very convenient for users. Besides, some knowledge can not be offered by us, therefore we access to link to office knowledge, which can reduce the pressure of blogger and make the blog more formality.

Tables and the structure of the home page

From our blog's home page, you can find any other more things except for a table which links to three parts around a image. We will delete some posts, blog roll and something else. The whole interface looks like clear and bright. Our users is mainly pupils in secondary school, therefore the interface can not be complex.

In addition, we can use java script to crate tables as our blog menu. For students, they can click any button to learn what they want to choose. This operation is simple and convenient.

In the following, I will show you how the material work and how it meet the needs of the students.

How the material will work and how it will meet the needs of the users

This blog is fulfilled by three students together, therefore, we will introduce the blog by three parts. Other two students will introduce how the CPU and Motherboard modules work. I will show you how the main memory will work.

When you input our blog address in the web, your computer screen will show you our blog home. You will see four titles in the top: Home, Main Memory, CPU, Motherboard and a picture of computer hardware linked to Main Memory, CPU, Motherboard page. Clicking any three buttons, you will enter the homepage of each part.

For example, Clicking Main memory button, you will enter the learning of the main memory and the computer will show you the menu of main memory: main memory, how to install memory, memory basics, memory quiz, memory reading list.

When you want to learn the concept of memory, you just click the button of main memory where explain what is the main memory for you. In this part, we put two links in Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM) and Static Random Access Memory (SRAM). If you want to know more about them, you can click the links.

Then, you can click the button of how to install memory. There is a video and a feedback. The video will teach you how to install the memory and then you can full in the feedback form where you can describe your ideas to teachers.

After that, you can click the memory basics where it teaches you a lot of knowledge about memory basics. When you click ROM, BIOS, OS, RAM words, the popup window will appear to help you read more. Meanwhile, in the first paragraph, we link 'CPU' word to CPU page. It is convenient to you to learn quickly about CPU knowledge.

Next, clicking the memory quiz to test your level of learning. We set up ten questions and you just need to choose a correct answer according your knowledge. When you click each button, the system will tell you the answer you choose is right or wrong. When you finish all questions, the system will give you an overall sore you attain.

Finally, the reading list part will offer you some extra resources. When you click each reading, the system will automatically transfer the current pages to extra resource, which help you read more literature.

The operation of the whole main memory part is simple and easy. If students want to learn other parts of our blog, you can make the same measures.

Conclusion

As a vehicle of multimedia, Blog displays its functions as much as possible. We will take advantage of plugin tool and other multimedia to design the blog. In this article, I just refer to a limited part of our blog and in fact, there are many multimedia tool. Considering the limited words, I just refer some tools which are used in the part of Main Memory part in the blog.

Reference:

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