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Across the curriculum with HyperCard.

Multimedia in education? You bet. Is it a fad? Not according to the students in my programming class--they love it. It is a well-proven fact that multimedia presentations dramatically improve retention and comprehension. Besides, it is just plain fun.

Do you need an expensive computer system running into the tens of thousands of dollars? The answer is a definite no! Multimedia presentations can be created using HyperCard with just a few gadgets to help in the process. Any Macintosh computer capable of running HyperCard will do just fine. If you can get your hands on a scanner that would help too, but clip art can go a very long way. And for a small price, a sound resource and ResEdit program can really spice up a HyperCard stack.

One of HyperCard's most powerful applications is its ability to create interactive tutorials. The program allows you to combine text, graphics, images, narration, sound, buttons and even video in a way that has been previously unavailable to educators.

Tailor-made tutorials that are entertaining, exciting and informative reach out to our students. Instead of being forced to plow through mundane textbooks, students are absorbed into an interactive world that challenges their knowledge and problem-solving skills. Tutorial stacks can depict how an atom is formed, illustrate history, teach algebra lessons, test comprehension--the options are limitless.

To accomplish this, one does not need to be an expert programmer. Although HyperCard is a complex authoring language, its basic commands are easy to learn. This is what makes HyperCard so attractive. There are a few simple commands--such as copy and paste, using text fields or creating buttons-- plus some basic scripting commands. Anyone can develop a creative tutorial that students will love. It just takes a little effort and imagination to move into the world of multimedia.

* Use at the Secondary Level

At DeWitt Perry Junior High School in Carrollton, Texas, we are very fortunate to have a lab of Macintosh LCII computers. This lab is used for computer literacy and for teaching HyperCard programming.

After spending six weeks learning HyperCard, students were assigned tutorial projects. They worked in groups of two and selected a topic from one of their classes. Several of these tutorial stacks won awards in the Region X programming contest. My students combined their knowledge of both HyperCard and their subject matter to create interactive multimedia presentations.

These tutorial stacks used text, sound, scanned pictures, graphics, buttons and even animation. Various special effects provided transitions from one card to the next, the most popular being slow dissolve or Venetian blinds. Text was merged with images to illustrate a topic. Questions were posed in a multiple-choice or true/false format. Animation was created by grouping together numerous cards to make the picture appear to move. And, finally, sound was used to highlight certain topics.

The students' first objective was to create an outline of their stack. We used a top-down structured programming flowchart. Their parameters were limited to three subroutines of information with each having six questions. They started with a Title card, then added a Main Routine card, which then branched to Subroutine cards (see Figure 1).

The Title cards ranged from one card that had an Advance button on it to one that had scrolling credits with background music. The most common was the latter. Figure 2 is an example of one Title card.

After showing factual information in a creative way, students created a card with questions on it. Then they employed a technique of hiding and showing text by clicking on buttons. This interactive strategy provides instant user feedback. Figures 3 and 4 show this process. (Author's note: When Figure 3 was reduced to fit on a piece of paper, several of the questions lost text, but we can get the idea from the format used. The scanned picture also lost clarity when it was shrunk.) In Figure 4 the False buttons were clicked and the answers left on the card to illustrate the "hide and show" technique. When a button is clicked on, the question field is hidden and the answer field becomes visible. This makes the card interactive--users see immediately whether or not their answer was correct.

Another possibility is to combine HyperCard with language arts. Besides creating tutorials for grammar, one can also use it to develop both linear and interactive stories. Students learn the structure of plot, setting, dialogue and the writing process. Instead of a story written in just words, HyperCard adds graphics, sound, narration and animation to heighten the reading experience.

* Why Not?

Multimedia in education? What's wrong with having another instructional strategy to help reach our children? Is it the answer to education's problems? Not entirely, but it can help.

When we had an Apple IIe lab at our junior high school, on the average two or three students came in before school to use the computer. Now with the Mac lab, we average 20 students per morning. In Carrollton, our students have become enthusiastic computer users.

John Yarrow, as the district's multimedia specialist, trains both educators and students in various computer programs such as HyperCard. His most recent project is a course on interactive video using Macromind Director and Authorware programs. E-mail:

HyperCard is now in Version 2.2 and available from Claris Corp. in Santa Clara, Calif.
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Title Annotation:multimedia in education
Author:Yarrow, John
Publication:T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)
Date:Mar 1, 1994
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