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Multimedia Presentations Workshop



Recent years have seen a rapid increase in the numbers of computers used in education. Computers are now regularly used by staff and students, for a variety of tasks from computer aided learning to word processing and E-mail. However, presentations, and particularly lectures, are probably the last area to be affected by computer technology.

The fact that multimedia presentations are not in common use shows there must be a number of problems, and these are not only associated with production of multimedia materials, but also delivering them, particularly at remote sites. It is well known that producing any multimedia materials can be expensive and time consuming, and materials for presentations are no different. In addition once produced the materials must often be used at foreign sites, creating problems of portability. Finally, despite the increased investments in computers on many sites, lecture theatres often lack the facilities necessary to give electronic presentations.

Despite these problems, multimedia presentations offer sufficient benefits to make them worth pursuing. During the course of the workshop a number of benefits were identified including:

As an example of some of the issues that have been raised, let us consider a recent international conference '3D and Multimedia on the Internet, WWW and networks', held at the National Museum of Film and Photography, Bradford in April 1996. This has been highlighted simply because it happened close to the workshop, and is typical of a high profile, well organised and well equipped conference.

Despite the nature of the conference, the vast majority of speakers used 35mm slides or OHP transparencies to give their presentations, supplemented by analogue video clips in some instances, including analogue videos of computer animations. Only a couple of presenters actually used electronic presentations, indeed they were recommended not to in the presenters notes (see Case Studies).

'Computers can give very effective presentations and for interactive demonstrations - but we have seen many examples of computers not working during the actual presentations even though they have been tested out beforehand'

Resolution was also a problem, not necessarily of the projection equipment, but also screen resolution of portable computers (the venue did not provide computers). One presenter commented, that although he had intended to use a computer, when magnified on the large screen, 600x800 resolution seemed very poor quality.

Even so, the final advice to the presenters, highlights the need for multimedia presentations.

'The main thing which will survive in the long term memory of your audience will be your visual images and/or animation, so be sure to include visual results in your talk, and make them of high quality'

Issues and Recommendations

Multimedia presentations are time consuming to produce

A good multimedia presentation will require considerably more time and resources to produce than a traditional one, making it impractical for individual presenters to develop suitable material alone.


There are perceived problems moving from traditional methods of generating presentations to electronic ones.

Many people are reluctant to learn to user new applications, particularly if they are perceived to be very technical or require programming skills, and they will not wish to discard existing materials.


Multimedia does not necessarily mean good quality

Any presentation can be good or bad, but while a fairly simple set of rules for producing good quality text only presentations has been established, no such guidelines really exist for multimedia presentations


Lecture theatres are not 'multimedia ready'

Presenters are reluctant to use electronic presentations as presentation equipment in lecture theatres is often unavailable or unsuitable. Even if they bring their own computers, projection equipment is often low resolution and low brightness, and there may be problems with connections. Using computers provided by host sites may cause software compatibility problems.


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