Background and objectives

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Old Yeller, by Fred Gipson is one of the core books recommended for reading in fifth grade in our school system. As students read the book they discussed it orally in literature groups with fellow students and myself.

As a culminating activity they were to choose one aspect or important part of each chapter. Each student was told to:

The program we used to create the graphics was Kid Pix, running on Mac LCs. Sounds bites were recorded within Kid Pix and attached to each picture. Then, these pictures were assembled into Slide Show, a component of Kid Pix that allows the pictures to be shown in your desired sequence.

Completing the project with and entire class does take a long time. After the initial 5 or 6 sessions in the computer lab, students had to find time to complete their pictures. That wasn't to difficult. Some came in 30 to 45 minutes earlier in the morning, others stayed in the afternoon, but most found time between other computer projects to finish up. It seems that their computer time is much more productive and focused when they have several things they can work on in any one given time period. It avoids wasted time when you hear, "I'm finished and I don't know what to do now" syndrome while others are still working on an unfinished project.

After the kids completed their slide shows, the next step was to select the best ones to display on the WWW. The Kid Pix Slide Show program can save slide shows in several formats; normal, stand-alone or Quicktime movie. We could have put links to the slide shows themselves in any of those formats so that they could be downloaded and be viewed locally on any Mac. But we really wanted the slide shows to be viewed directly by any Web browser on any hardware platform, without requiring that the entire slide show be downloaded first, before seeing the first slide. To do this, we converted each slide graphic into a GIF file, using the shareware graphics utility program GraphicConverter, and then converted the attached sound bite into AIFF format using the commercial sound program SoundEdit Pro. We then created a set of generic HTML template files that, when placed in the same folder as the graphic and sound files, displayed each slide on a separate Web page, along with a sound button and navigation buttons. (You may download this set of template files). The template files are used without change; therefore, no knowledge of HTML is required. We have written up complete step-by-step instructions for this process.

The advantage of displaying Slide Shows in this manner is that the slides and sounds are loaded one at a time, thus the time delay before viewing the first slide is very small. Also, the GIF images load very quickly because of their small file sizes (typically only 5-10K bytes). The sound bites are much larger, but they are loaded and played only upon demand, by clicking on the sound buttons ; users who don't have sound cards or who don't want the sounds can simply ignore the sound buttons.

There is one remaining technical problem. So far we have not been able to hear the sound bites on a Windows machine. We have saved the sound bites in AIFF (Audio Interchange File Format) format, which should be Web compatible but we suspect the compression algorithm for sound must be in a propritory format that PC can't understand if the Kid Pix sound was produced on a Mac. We don't know if that is true if it created on the PC version of Kid Pix. One possible solution is to use SoundApp to convert the sounds into AU format.

This page is maintained by Mary O'Haver
This page was first created on October 13, 1997
Last updated October 14, 1997