For most people, when you mention web content they automatically think of words, perhaps augmented with pictures. But with the recent growth of Rich Media, web content now includes audio, video, animation and other interactive elements. As computer performance continues to improve and broadband access becomes ubiquitous, delivering rich media via the web provides a more compelling experience for users. Witness the popularity of Podcasting (the New Oxford American Dictionary Word of the Year for 2005) and the explosive growth of Youtube.

Using Rich Media to reach millennial students is very effective. They are very comfortable with both creating and consuming all forms of rich media. Rich media also greatly improves training materials. Teaching students how to use web based tools such as web registration has always been a challenge. Using a combination of text, diagrams, and screen shots had limited effectiveness. Now we are using Adobe Captivate to create screencasts with great success.

One big challenge with Rich Media will be accessibility. As much as I like YouTube, I don’t see how someone with an auditory disability could use that site. I’m hoping that everyone involved with the tools that are used to create and use rich media will focus on improving accessibility.

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