Sparks Fly
[Home] [PBS VideoDatabase] [Social Studies] [TSU] [UVA]


What is it?

Any combination of text, graphic art, sound, animation and video delivered by a computer

Richly woven sensation with elements that include:

Text, Graphics, Sound, Video, Animation, Virtual reality

Multimedia excites…

The eyes, ears, finger-tips, but most importantly, the head


Each of the elements can be subdivided








In most cases, a combination of two or more elements provides the best results

Fundamental Feature


Ability of the user to interact with an application

Content presented in a nonlinear way

User is active rather than passive

User determines:

the content that is delivered,

when it is delivered,

how it is delivered

How does user control?

Interactivity comes in many forms

Keyboard input

Mouse point-and-click

Mouse rollovers

Voice activation

Touch screens

Fundamental to Multimedia

Computer system

Must be capable of showing the multimedia elements

Sound and animation (often a problem)

Needed elements



Audio card

Graphics card


Sufficient speed and processing power to deliver multimedia

Multimedia Applications


Online courses

Specific applications

CD-ROM games


Educational software

Wide variety of multimedia available today

The Web

Fastest growing area for multimedia delivery

Compelling feature—immediacy

Web cast

Allows broadcast in real time of events over the Web

HTML coding allows all computers to access the multimedia—non-platform specific

Multimedia requires use of other programming languages

Java (Applets)



Number of U.S. households with multimedia computers

1997 30%

2000 75%

Internet Use

According to the Department of Commerce

1997 19% of homes in the U.S. used the Internet

2000 45% of homes in the U.S. used the Internet

2001 Estimated that 50% of U.S. homes will use the Internet


Price of computers

1997 average of $2000 per system

2001 as low as $500 per system

Price of CD-ROM

1992 CD-ROM costs $100 (average)

2001 CD-ROM costs less than $20

Business Applications

Multimedia around the office has become commonplace

Internet is the marketing world’s dream come true

Replacing print magazine circulation

Bonanza for corporate training

Communication tool

Presentation medium

How used?





Product demos



Network communications

Educational Use

Perhaps the most needy destination for multimedia

To facilitate learning

Challenge—diversity in student learning

Linear vs. non-linear

Book—linear (chapter 1, 2, 3—possible to move around but usually taught in order)

CD—non-linear (response takes you to area where you need instruction—no required or specified order)

Education’s Place on the Web


Combination of education and entertainment

Invite children to learn by creating interesting interactive game-type programming

Multimedia at Home

From gardening to cooking

Home design to repair

Genealogy to home design

Multimedia enters the home through computers, TVs, interactive user inputs

As more homes become accessible to multimedia the selection will explode

Multimedia in Public Places

Hotels, trains, shopping malls, museums, grocery stores

Stand alone terminals or kiosks

Reduce demand for human resources as computers solve problems, provide directions, aid in meal planning, give guided tours—the possibilities are limitless


Movies on your PC (DVD)

Online gaming

Most popular


Interactive adventure

Virtual environment


Mysteries like Avalon

Flight Simulator (oldest and most popular)

Multimedia titles do not fall neatly into categories—much bleeding over between classifications

Virtual Reality

Goggles, helmets, special gloves—the often bizarre tools of virtual reality—3-dimensional worlds

Get inside a life-like representation of a new world

Requires tremendous computing resources

VR is possible on the web if the resources are available

This class is about…

Creating each of the elements of multimedia

Weaving them together for maximum effect

Producing a final effort that will showcase all the power and potential of…

This page was updated on:  04/10/02