The text, audio, and images shown through video give students the opportunity to process information in their own way and on their own time.

Lindsay Sabatino, Director, UNCG Digital ACT Studio

What types of multimedia would enhance the effectiveness of your course?

“Multimedia” includes graphics, videos, audios, text, images, and more. Multimedia can be purchased, accessed from the public domain or Creative Commons repositories, or created by you. Note that we said “enhance the effectiveness of your course,” not just “enhance.” Instructors can be tempted to add lots of multimedia to spice up their course. But, without a purpose that ties back to the learning objectives, multimedia just takes up valuable page space and distracts the learner. Also, be prepared to make your multimedia accessible to a variety of learners with different ability levels (Part 1 has more details about accessibility requirements). Carefully determine which medium is the most effective for the type of information you’re presenting.

Here are some examples of when to use certain types of multimedia:

  • Legal rules and regulations that are dense, need-to-know information: presenting it in basic text form may be best.
  • Life cycle of plants: may be best presented as an animated video or PowerPoint supplemented by text.
  • Lecture on civil rights could be supplemented by multimedia: historical photos of public marches and prominent activists, interviews with historians or civil rights activists from the time period.
  • Famous speech: incorporate an audio recording supplemented by text.

There are free, high quality resources that can help you incorporate multimedia into your site. Always be aware of potential copyright restrictions and when it is and is not permissible to use a resource.

Check out these ideas:

  • YouTube: free video uploading, hosting, and sharing
  • TED Talks: short videos created to “make great ideas accessible and spark conversation”
  • Creative Commons: free songs, videos, and academic materials
  • Wikimedia Commons: freely usable media files with attribution
  • Camtasia: video creation tool
  • Canvas Studio: interactive video tool compatible with the Canvas LMS


For how-to tips on recording high-quality multimedia from your home or office, check out these videos:


An instructor teaching a mythology course online wanted her students to understand the historical context of several myths and legends. In addition to requiring students to read a textbook chapter related to the material, the instructor found a multimedia tool—Knightlab. She built an interactive timeline for her students to explore that included videos, podcasts, and music.

She could have also used an alternative timeline tool from ReadWriteThink or Sutori.

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