10 Tips for Successful Multimedia Assignments

logitech-headset-webYou’ve given your students an assignment that includes multimedia as a major or minor component (e.g., a poster, photo, or video project). What steps can you take to help them succeed?

Dave Underwood, Academic Technology Consultant and blogger at the University of Colorado, suggests 10 key steps you can take to help students excel at assignments that include multimedia:


  1. Help students develop a process appropriate for the multimedia tools and project(s) they will be creating, and encourage them to  use it. Other types of projects benefit from processes to facilitate completion (e.g., writing outlines and drafts), and multimedia is really no different.
  2. Encourage students to reach beyond the classroom for examples. Movies, music, books, television, art galleries, nature, and social media are full of creative inspiration.
  3. Ask students questions about their work and offer your help- they may welcome (and need) it, but are afraid to ask.
  4. Be clear about what your expectations for a project are. Uncertainty can stifle creativity and bog down progress.
  5. Don’t let your unfamiliarity with or fear of the technology you’re asking students to use get in the way. Even if you, the instructor, are not proficient with multimedia, your students can still benefit from working with it. If YOU need help, use the resources available to you on campus (e.g., the OIT Instructional Media Lab). If your students need help, let them know where THEY can go for help (e.g., Learning Commons).
  6. Be flexible and understanding in how you allow students to approach the completion of their projects. For example, if a student who is not comfortable being recorded for a video project would like to use a classmate or friend as an on-camera stand-in, let them.
  7. Don’t be overly critical of the execution of the final product; after all, students may be just learning a new technological tool. Focus your critiques on the concepts and effort that went into planning and producing the project.
  8. Reach out to multimedia experts for help, and encourage students to do the same.
  9. Connect your projects to the community (e.g., a local hospital, elementary school, or municipal service). Students are more invested in their work when it has meaning and an observable, tangible impact.
  10. Lighten up! Create a project and environment that encourages students to have some fun, which can help increase engagement.


Hopefully these steps can serve as general guidelines for success for using multimedia in your course assignments. As always, if you have any questions about using multimedia and other instructional technologies, feel free to drop us a line at the Instructional Media Lab (413-545-2823 | instruct@oit.umass.edu).

To read the full blog post from Dave Underwood, which was featured on Nancy Hays EDUCAUSE blog, see: 10 Ways to Ruin a Perfectly Good Design Assignment.

*iPad image adapted from Tom Morris, Wikimedia Creative Commons.

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