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Evaluating Nasa’s Multimedia Running head: EVALUATING NASA’S LABORATORY MULTIMEDIA

Evaluating NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Multimedia Benjamin Stewart TEC 560 Ms. Gina Phipps January 14, 2007

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Evaluating Nasa’s Multimedia

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Abstract This paper evaluates three multimedia presentations taken from the California Institute of Technology’s NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Multimedia web page as it pertains to meaningful learning. Topics to be discussed include explaining likes and dislikes of each presentation, enhancing student learning, providing an educational tool, providing collaborative learning activities, and adapting to an English language learning environment. Within these five domains, it was determined that meaningful learning best takes place when the learner takes an active role in the process, is able to construct meaning through intuitive means, and is able to collaborate with others toward a common goal.


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Evaluating NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Multimedia NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Multimedia web page contains many education sources that can be incorporated within the educational design. Three multimedia presentations specifically were chosen here as a basis of discussion that includes likes and dislikes, enhancing student learning, providing an educational tool, providing collaborative learning activities, and adapting to an English language learning environment. Likes and Dislikes The Alien Safari online presentation (Watanabe, n.d.b) provides information about the planet through inquiry based multimedia. It contains good visual elements, dialog, music, and hyperlinks that take the learner to different points of interest. For those learners that prefer to read and look at pictures, there is also an HTML version. If I had any complaints about this site, it would be that lack of a hyperlink in the flash version that takes the learner to an individual topic. Sometimes the learner has to wait until a link is available on the rotating globe before he or she can access that link. Mars Rover: One Year on Mars (Watanabe, n.d.c) shows the learner wonderful pictures of the planet Mars as the learner can interactively take the journey online. Digital pictures provide close-ups of rocks and craters and near color accuracy gives the learner an idea as to what the planet really looks like. Moreover, video clips also show Rover’s landing on the planet, the journey on the planet, and the team that was responsible for putting together the Rover project. The only thing I would have liked to see was more pictures and video of this very interesting topic.


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The Earthquake Studies flash presentation provides a narrative about the earthquake of 1906. The learner can navigate through the flash presentation to hear the narrative and to read the corresponding text on various topics concerning earthquakes – there is even a quiz to check for understanding. The presentation includes links as well so learners can inquire further about the topic if so desired. The quiz section would have been more intuitive if the answers and questions contained hyperlinks for learners to inquire on give topics as they were presented within the quiz. Enhancement of Student Learning These types of media presentations enhance student learning because they intuitively take the learner through an inquiry based online journey. There is not just one way to view the information; rather the learner has some control over what and how the information is to be presented. For example, the flash media offers a good visual element and attracts those learners who tend to be more visual learners. Analytical learners that prefer to read may opt for the HTML versions of the presentations. Learners are more proactive in the learning process since they are required to make decisions during the data collection process instead of being just passive respondents of comprehensive input. Jonassen, Howland, Moore, and Marra say, “Meaningful learning requires learners who are actively engaged in a meaningful task…in which they manipulate objects and parameters of the environment they are working in and observing the results of their manipulations” (2003, p. 7). Educational Tool These three examples of multimedia presentations offer effective means of online inquiry to specific topics of science (i.e., earthquakes, the planet Mars, and an alien


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safari). Learners oftentimes get caught in “information overload” if they are not properly directed to certain websites that contain information they need. The teacher should make sure learners are directed to a list of online resources to get them started as they begin the inquiry process due to the vast amounts of information that is available online. This will help the learner to stay on task as they find those websites that provide the information they need. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory presentations are good educational tools because they list out each presentation with a title and picture of the topic so the learner can quickly find the topic of interest. Collaborative Learning Activity Meaningful learning is a social phenomenon. Jonassen, Howland, Moore, and Marra mention, “Humans naturally work in learning and knowledge-building communities, exploiting each other’s skills and appropriating each other’s knowledge” (2003, p. 8). Multimedia flash presentations are good educational tools for collaborative group work because they provide a starting point for further inquiry. Since the presentations are intuitive, each learner can pave their own way through the information and then later regroup with the others to share what he or she found. Adapting to an English Language Learning Environment Multimedia presentations lend themselves well to teaching English as a Second Language (ESL). For example, a world map could take the English language learner on a virtual tour of English-speaking countries, perhaps providing an audio clip of different English pronunciations that exist around the world. They could also show video clips of different social customs that teach how verbal and nonverbal communication are involved in various discourses.


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Conclusion To conclude, multimedia presentations can offer meaningful learning to virtually any topic. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Multimedia web page is well suited for science topics and contains many education sources that can provide educational tools for the learner. The learner can use these presentations in a collaborative way since each student can intuitively inquire about information that can later be shared with others in the group. As learners gather, arrange, and present information according to his or her findings, they are required to rely on a higher order of learning that includes analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating data.


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References Jonassen, D., Howland, J., Moore, J., & Marra, R. (2003). Learning to Solve Problems with Technology: A Constructivist Perspective. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Merrill Prentice Hall. Watanabe, S. (n.d.a). California Institute of Technology: Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Earthquake Studies (4/17/06). Retrieved on January 14, 2007 from http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/multimedia/earthquake1906/ Watanabe, S. (n.d.b). California Institute of Technology: Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Alien Safari (7/29/05). Retrieved on January 14, 2007 from http://planetquest.jpl.nasa.gov/AlienSafari_launch_page.html Watanabe, S. (n.d.c). California Institute of Technology: Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Mars Rovers: One year on Mars (12/30/04). Retrieved on January 14, 2007 from http://www.nasa.gov/externalflash/Anniversary_VisMar/index_noaccess_mars.ht ml


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Appendix 1 Name of media Software used to create File Extension Print/Webbased Examples

Video (Java) Sun Microsystems *.jar Web-based

1. 2.

Yahoo PageBuilder Fox News Video

Audio (MPEG) Lossy Data Compression *.mp3 Web-based

1. 2.

Songs News programs

Image (JPEG) Lossy Data Compression *.jpg Both

1. 2.

Photos Graphics

Text Adobe Reader

Executable Files Computer Program

*.pdf Both

*.exe Web-based

1. 2.

Manuals Technical Journals

1. 2.

Plugins Installation programs

NASA's jet propulsion laboratory mutimedia  

Evaluating Nasa’s Multimedia 1 Benjamin Stewart Ms. Gina Phipps Evaluating NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Multimedia January 14, 2007

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