This Digital Literacy Toolkit began with the premise that multimedia authoring, which is happening with the extensive use of PowerPoint in classrooms, must be taught as a skill, just as traditional text-based writing is taught. While teachers and students have become familiar with the technical skills required to use images in multimedia productions, they lack a critical language to determine whether an image or a sound is used appropriately.
Images, sounds and animations — like words — are building blocks whose meanings can be changed to suit the communicative purpose of the author. Just as the same words and phrases can be arranged or manipulated to express different meanings depending on the author’s intent, so can sounds and images. The advent of multimedia authoring and an almost unlimited variety of images available via the Internet in the classroom, makes understanding this concept, that an image’s meaning changes depending on the purpose for which it is used, a new requirement of 21st Century communication.