Project #2: Static Multimedia Instruction

Exploring “Clarify-it”.

Teaching English, I use a lot of different websites that I then ask my students to use for homework and extra practice outside of class.  One such website that I use is called “Spelling City”.  I love this website, because it allows a teacher to create a user name and password for each of their students, and then I can track when a student has logged in, what homework assignments they have done, and I can see their progress.  However, too many students forget how to log in, and the parents complain that the website is all in English, and they can’t understand the English enough to help their children log in.  Clarify-it is a beautiful solution to this problem.  It helped me create a step-by-step tutorial using screen shots of my computer.  For the purpose of the assignment, I wrote the instructions in English, but will add a Japanese translation when I hand this out to my students.

Instructional Objective:

After viewing this tutorial, a student will be able to access and log into their individual student “Spelling City” account.

Please click here: speedy-speller to view the PDF format.

The instructions are simple:

  1. From your desktop, please open up an internet browser. Feel free to use the browser of your choice.
  2. Enter “Spelling City” into the search engine. Then click on the arrow button.
  3. Confirm that the website is and click on “Login”.
  4. Under the student Login, please enter your username and password. This should have been assigned to you by your teacher. If you have forgotten what your username and password is, please talk to your teacher.

At least…I thought the instructions were simple, until I took this class.  I realized that I have not been taking my students ages and their knowledge..or lack of knowledge, as the case turned out to be…into account.  I just assumed that by writing down the website name and their name and password, they would have been able to figure it out on their own.

When applying the multimedia principle (the importance of using both text and pictures), the e-Learning and the Science of Instruction textbook reminds us that “Simply presenting information is not all there is to instruction, because the instructor’s job is also to help guide the learner’s cognitive processing during learning” (p. 71).  I had just been presenting them information on how to log in; I hadn’t been guiding them on how to use a computer and access the web and log into a website, which is a skill that many lower grade elementary school students aren’t familiar with.

To create the PDF, I downloaded clarify-it to my desktop, and signed up for the free trial.  I then took a simple screenshot of each step that I listed.  To help make an effective PDF, I took note of the Contiguity Principle #1: “Place printed words near corresponding graphics”  (e-Learning and the Science of Instruction, p. 91).   Clarify-it makes it easy to edit the screenshots instantly, so it was easy to add circles to draw attention to where students should click, as well as to add arrows and text  near the corresponding graphics to be able to guide the students with the lowest level of computer knowledge.  The screenshots with the text will also allow the students or parents whose native language is not English to sign in.  Further PDF’s can now be made to ensure that each student knows exactly where to click  to bring up the assigned homework or game for that week.

This was surprisingly easy and simple.  I have struggled with other screenshot programs before, but this one…made designing an instructional PDF a piece of cake.  I would recommend this program to anyone and everyone that has to design Multimedia instructions.




These past two weeks have been spent learning about sketchnotes.  The idea behind sketchnotes is that people have a much deeper learning experience as they mentally combine words and ideas to pictures.  As we mentally make connections between the pictures and the ideas and words, we engage our minds in the active learning process, and the concept stays with us much longer than if we were to be passively learning, such as just reading a text, and just taking written word notes, or just listening to a lecture.

For the record, I have no talent whatsoever when it comes to art.  You could put my artwork next to my preschool children and not be able to guess which one is mine…that is how lacking in talent I am.  Even my stick figures are horrible.  So when the assignment says to draw pictures for notes…that just sets off all sorts of panic attacks.

My first idea was to find something…anything online to help with this assignment.  I used to use the site goanimate, but that only puts sketches into a video format.  Then I had the unfortunate event of losing my computer in Tokyo.  So I gave it a go, and took notes using the sketchnote method on the topic of “the psychological reasons for the multimedia principle along with evidence for using words and pictures.”


So…good news…coming home from Tokyo…police found my computer!  Thank you wonderful high school students who found my bag and turned it in!  Microsoft has their new web browser where they say you can just draw on it and save it.  Well…great…if you can draw!  Here is just a sample of what you can do….this is from the e-book.  And to think…my teacher’s used to tell us, “Don’t draw in your books!”  My, how times have changed.  Click here to view.

Again, having no skills whatsoever, this does someone like me very little.  Those familiar with mind mapping will notice that my hand drawn version is done similar to the mind mapping format.  This is something I am comfortable doing.  I tried some other options online, and found a website that seemed to be what I was looking for, and it took me about two hours to make this using the one week free trial.  The site is called  Sparkol.  At first, I just assumed that this would be like goanimate.  But it offers much more…well…all except for a computer generated voice over.  That would have been nice, as I hate talking on videos.  But, again, the assignment wasn’t to make a video.  I did make one though, without sound, just for the experience.  Here is the video version.

Here is why I liked this program.  The video was saved as an easy to print pdf file.  multimedia, which can then be turned into a jpg file, and viewable online!  multimedia-page-001

See the difference?  Now, I did this in a linear data structure, but it can be formatted any way one can imagine…just as long as they can get their mouse or touch pen to cooperate.  I had a few issues, but I think if I were to use this and get more comfortable, it could be a valuable resource as a teacher; especially considering that the multimedia principle that reminds us that people learn better when words and graphics are combined, is ranked #3 on the top 25 list of learning principles, as published by the Association of Psychological Science.

The biggest challenges someone like me faces is the lack of ability, which makes this assignment gut-wrenchingly difficult.  Someone who has little access to a computer, tablet or the internet would be at a serious disadvantage.  Another setback for someone who is struggling financially would be the cost to continue to use this program.  If a teacher could talk the school into covering the cost, that would be one thing, but at $665 for a year’s subscription….yeah. It’s not in my budget.  So until then, I guess it is back to stick figures and poorly drawn notes on paper for me.