How to Plan iPad Multimedia Assignments for Students

With classroom iPads, students can create a variety of digital storytelling and multimedia assignments. How should teachers plan iPad multimedia assignments and lessons that test students' storytelling abilities more than their ability to use a computer? Finally, how should such multimedia assignments be structured and graded?

Any educational project or activity benefits from careful forethought and planning; that’s most certainly the case with a multimedia production. Consider breaking down a multimedia assignment into the following phases:

  • Collaboration: Multimedia assignments make great team projects. They include multiple phases with opportunities for each student to gravitate toward his or her particular strengths, whether those are research and reading, organization, writing, visual design and editing, performing, or something else.

  • Research: Any project worth its weight requires students to do some digging and massaging of information. For example, suppose students have to prepare a narrated slide show on the life of a U.S. president. Discuss the elements of effective research with students by posing questions such as these:

    • How do you decide where and what to search?

    • What factors about the president are important to your project? How are you filtering the search results?

    • Is the information accurate, and how can it be verified?

  • Selecting and creating supporting materials: Have students collect and/or create materials such as images, music, and more. Discuss the impact of visuals. What images match the sentiment students are trying to express? How does music set the scene for a story?

    One way to illustrate the importance of supporting materials is to show short political election advertisements. It’s very revealing to note the way images and music are selected to positively or negatively reflect upon candidates’ positions.

  • Be sure to discuss copyright issues such as copyright, ownership, and usage rights with your students. Students should respect copyrights when creating works, especially ones they wish to publish online.

  • Storyboard creation: One way you can teach students to plan and organize a multimedia project is to have them create a storyboard that maps out the project visually step by step.

    One popular iPad app that lets you map your ideas visually is Popplet Lite, which also comes in a paid version called Popplet.

  • Write a script: Even with a multimedia project, don’t let students abandon important traditional skills such as writing. Writing an accompanying script can be a vital part of the multimedia project, and you certainly should consider asking students to submit their script along with their final digital media.

Assessments should reflect the elements of a project you consider educationally important. That can extend beyond the final media piece to include elements such as the storyboard, script, and even the research or collection of resources used in the project. Create and clarify your assessment rubric. It will communicate the project elements that you consider important and result in a more thorough final product.

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