Text is Cheap (and sometimes that's good).

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I'm working on posting a media-rich for the fall (images, video and text), and I really have a new appreciation for the cheapness of text. What do I mean exactly?

  • Text files are much smaller than media files
  • Software to edit text files is cheaper
  • Far more people (e.g. instructors) can edit text than edit videos/images
  • It takes much less time to edit text for the Web than videos/images
  • Less time for accessibility is needed because text is almost accessible by default (it's those pesky fonts and colors that cause problems)

A text-only document is almost always easier to deal with.

So why do I bother with video and images? Because they really CAN convey information in a way that text alone cannot. Even the thermodynamics instructor I worked with commented that she couldn't remember how she got through the old thermodynamics books without the "modern" graphs that apparently "only" the Net Gen audience find so useful.

But it's an expensive proposition. That's why crabby instructional designers sometimes ask if the budget is there for that particular graphic – each one takes a lot of time and energy, usually from a rare, skilled specialist. We want to be sure the effort is worth it, and when it is, it's magic!

P.S. 1 – One thing I like about the Digital Commons is that they are geared towards teaching everyone key video skills. But I bet people quickly find out many hours are required – I think most enjoy it though.

P.S. 2 – Borrowing Creative Commons licensed media is great too...when you can find the right file. In one course lesson, I've only been able to borrow directly 3 times, modify 4 times and the rest (25+) had to be created from scratch.

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