Where does curriculum come from? How would you express what the picture on left is about? This chapter seeks deeper thinking about the impact of the networked-brain economy of the 21st century on education. Clearly, the most significant curriculum of our educational systems comes from (eventually) the "best practices" of adults in the culture. News alert! The Web has happened. The Web has transformed best practices for work and communication in every field of study and every arena of business and corporate practice. Though this transformation is already significant, the transformation still continues through the United States and world culture at a torrid exponential pace. Friedman's book titled the World is Flat in 2005 was a Paul Revere like warning shout that the tsunami of change had hit our beaches. This pace was accelerated further in 2008 by an economy in recession intent on utilizing every aspect of the Web's efficiencies for cost savings and the creation of new low cost business models. As a consequence of the Web revolution, adult literacy has been redefined in a multitude of ways that are generally not yet recognized by school curriculum nor taught as mainstream school practices. How do educators get from present practices to 21st century practices? Part of the answer begins by observing and then experiencing what Web literacy means.
In 2009, school systems must act as if reading and writing using paper represents best practices largely because state legislatures have not provided them the funding to fully engage with the 21st century agenda. Wrenching change in school practices lies ahead. However, school leaders have discretion over funding and some schools are farther ahead of others in putting practices and infrastructure in place. In the year 2009, educators can not only see the wave of change looming overhead, but they go home and surf on it every night, and yet must continue on with many practices either outdated or but a subset of the greater knowledge needed and used in adult practice. This chapter introduces the digital palette on the right, the wide variety of different kinds of media routinely composed for the Web. How does your knowledge of composition literacy with text compare with each of the other elements of this palette? Why is this so? What can and what must be done about it?
This chapter talks the talk and takes first steps towards walking the walk. It introduces applications for composing with different media, beginning with the easiest one for growing media skills, Powerpoint, an application similar to many slideshow programs. It also takes the first steps in introducing web page editing, a path that will later lead to integrating on your web site the images and audio created in the chapters so far. Further, reading this chapter effectively requires careful attention to the media links that go with the text. When you get to the end of the chapter, ask a couple of questions. Which was more important, the chapter's media or its text? How many forms of 21st century composition (e.g., writing) were required in this chapter? How many types of 21st century understanding (e.g., reading), were required?
A major innovation of the digital environment is the capacity to mix moving images and sound within a page of text or neighboring pages. One of the first media to be integrated was animation, which required less data and bandwidth than video and audio. Currently, Flash animation is the dominant form of animation on the Internet. View this animated poetry done in Flash. Arrange the web pages so both are visible. Next select embedded view and scroll to see the animation. Next click the still image on the right. One link creates a new display just for the animation; the second displays a new though identical page in which the animation is embedded. The third keeps the change within the frame. Does the animation distract you significantly while you are reading? How might you manage its distractive quality with either form of display? The content of the animation points to the central problem of composition and communication, getting to the point without taking more effort than necessary. Making static text and image work well with changing data from other media while heeding the call to distill ideas to their essence has become an interesting challenge for both author and reader.
New media, whether Flash animation or something else, might also be in an attached page called a frame page, something frequently demonstrated in this chapter and others. As with many browsers but not all, the Firefox browser enables users to resize the frames to make them disappear from view. These examples are a further demonstration that the web's capacity to manage and mix live and archived media and text pushes us beyond the existing boundaries of print or cellulose technology, and does so within a global communication media. Paper cannot do it, though "digital paper" is coming along in the research laboratories. Part of the purpose of these media examples of this chapter is to further introduce the idea of media integration or media convergence, emphasizing its power for communicating and the challenges it brings to those who have something to say and wish to compose it.
Following the arrival of animation, video and audio elements are commonly added to web pages. Often audio and video are pre-recorded files and thereby available for infinitely patient playback. Increasingly, live events are available from webcams and microphones. Each media poses new challenges to educators for finding and keeping the reference for later instructional use. Follow these links to explore some of the many examples: Trafficland ; Sylva NC mainstreet ; Jencam ; National Geographic's Africa wildcam. Some live scenes are video only, like the traffic cams. Often those of wildlife scenes include microphones to capture the sounds of the animals. How would you find similar sites? The critical difference between the slideshow effect and the television effect is the number images that are transmitted per second. A new image every few seconds looks like slides. A few per second begins to look like video, with 30 frames per second reaching the standard for television.
The site www.earthcam.com is a source of other live views from around the world, from henhouses to African watering holes. Which is streaming and which refreshing? It is not unusual to need to resize the window to make all of an image display appear.
One point of displaying Internet video here is that the slow frame rate of many webcams and videoclips is only a harbinger of ever better live Internet video for educational use in the years ahead. Improvements will depend on the increasing speed of Internet access. Other points should also be drawn. Slower frame rates for media work better with today's general Internet bandwidth. One of the advantages of animation is that many forms of animation require less data per second than video.
Creative educators will see that live scenes can be used in a variety of educational useful ways. In the case of this particular highway scene, this media might be included in curriculum for the study of urban issues and problems or used in math or science to discuss rate of flow and change, with the elements in view readily available for counting and timing. Animation can also be thought of in other ways. For example turning the pages of a book or advancing slides of information using a slide projector or electronic slides is another kind of slow animation.
A more fundamental point for educators is that the perspectives of different frame rates stimulate different kinds of thinking. Knowing this enables educators to better reinforce what is being taught. This is an important aspect of the need for instructional variation. The computer gives educators the broadest set of tools for changing the presentation of information. Since different things are seen by the brain at different speeds, one could hypothesize that intentionally presenting the same ideas and details using different media and/or using different speeds should increase deeper integration of the ideas.
In this chapter, animation will be seen as having many different meanings. Many examples of animation need to be seen and explored. Animation here is used to refer to following variations:
Instruction in Flash animation is beyond the scope of this chapter, but detailed instruction in Flash is available online for free for WCU students using the WCU onlinetraining.wcu.edu site. Commercial online training site at Atomiclearning.com and Lynda.com provide even more opportunity for professional development.
This chapter provides yet one more way to organize information for both nonlinear and linear designs. Key ideas are represented by the pairing of components, text element and a media element. Where frame pages are encountered, recall that to resize a frame requires careful placement of the cursor on the edge of the frame before clicking and dragging to a new location. If frame resizing does not work on your computer, you may need to find a different web browser or a more recent version of the browser or simply use the right-click menu (control click on a single button mouse) options to open the frame in a separate window.
There are two general models for organizing thought and action with different media, one linear and the other nonlinear. Which should educators use when? The term linear refers to a design that follows a strict sequential order, a sequence intended to not provide choices or branches or skip sets of information. The link for watching the "Warriors of the Net" leads to a classic example of linearity, a movie. In contrast, nonlinear models intentionally set out branches or choices in the flow of information. They force decisions and choices. The LEAP model introduced earlier as part of the larger CROP model integrates both linear and nonlinear actions into a larger model for learning and teaching with media integration. Animation, like video, is generally used to create linear presentations of ideas. In this linear context, this chapter provides the opportunity to learn more about the capacity of digital slideshows using the Powerpoint software application and to become aware of some basic GIF animation techniques. Composing with a variety of animation editors is beyond the time and scope of this chapter and course but the Warriors movie is also an excellent example of the three-dimensional (3D) animation created by some of the applications noted elsewhere in the optional activities section. There are many other courses offered by colleges and universities that provide directed hands-on instruction on more sophisticated animation and related forms of composition.
Linear presentation models are well represented by many media with which educators are familiar. This media includes books, movies, audio and slideshows. Linear models organize information in a logical sequence in which it is expected that all elements of the sequence will be communicated one after the other. A play, a song and a movie all make little sense if cut into pieces, jumbled and then approached a random order the second time they are experienced. Though users or readers may choose to jump or skip a element or page, the composer of the presentation designs linear work with the presumption that all will be used or examined in its initial sequence. In contrast, web links are often provided in a recommended sequence but the reader can easily and quickly click differently to create a different order.
A table is another nonlinear model, which can be read in many different patterns. Other nonlinear models would include many software editing applications whose commands are used in whatever order the composer find useful for the creative process.
Is one sequencing method more educationally effective than the other? Why?
Animation is just part of the larger media integration scene, a scene in which one digital system is capable of integrating and synthesizing all media. This media integration or convergence represents one of the fundamental changes for education in 21st century culture. Other chapters (especially those on still image and video) will further emphasize how comprehensive composition leads to a greater comprehension. The greatest range of possibilities for such work is provided by the web through the media integration of many composition tools, notably video, audio and animation at this point in time. In addition to exploring new media, this chapter also accents the additional media integration of many communication tools. Wireless communication media will also increasingly be integrated with the web to initiate the movement of information across different types of computers, including cell phones, handhelds, netbooks, desktop computers and web servers. As our depth of experience with something increases, our vocabulary evolves to match our greater depth. Consequently we see that the terms multimedia, digital literacy, multiliteracies, media, comprehensive composition and unimedia are increasingly used synonymously.
Because of this new comprehensive media plateau for thinking and its potential major role at all four stages of the LEAP thinking model that was introduced earlier, one suspects that the continuing evolution of media integration will have as significant a role on the nature of cognition and therefore teaching and learning as has the invention of writing in past millennia.