Visualizing Electricity and Magnetism: The Collaborative Development of a Multimedia Text

By Jennifer A. George-Palilonis and John Belcher.

Published by The International Journal of the Book

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Visualization has proven to be a powerful tool that enables both concrete and abstract representations of concepts that are often difficult to teach and learn. Likewise, multimedia storytelling has emerged as an equally powerful tool for combining rich media with nonlinear presentations of complex content. The authors of this paper, from two very different fields of study (physics and visual journalism) have collaborated to develop of an interactive, multimedia teaching and learning tool for physics. This tool combines visual storytelling, animation, graphic design, and nonlinear presentation to create a digital visualization of electricity and magnetism. Based on a number of 3D animations, interactive applets, and videos focused on field theory, scalar and vector fields, electrostatics, magnetostatics, Faraday’s Law, and light, the module allows students to visualize concepts that are normally invisible to the naked eye. Additionally, the nonlinear design of the module allows students to explore and experience content in rich, interactive formats. Naturally, this project raises a number of possibilities for discussion about the future of the educational text and research related to teaching and learning with multimedia. This paper will first provide insight into how this particular text represents innovation for both physics and multimedia storytelling pedagogy by transforming how we teach the foundations of electricity and magnetism from a traditional, equation-based system to a visualization-based, multimedia experience. We’ll also share how we collaborated and discuss possibilities for future research and development related to this module.

Keywords: Multimedia, Interactive Text, Nonlinear Storytelling, Physics, Visual Communication, Animation, Graphic Design, Visualization

International Journal of the Book, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp.107-114. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 726.359KB).

Jennifer A. George-Palilonis

Assistant Professor, Journalism Graphics Sequence Coordinator, Department of Journalism, Ball State University, Muncie, USA

Prof. Jennifer George-Palilonis teaches courses in graphics reporting, multimedia storytelling and media convergence. She began her career as a news designer for the Detroit Free Press in 1996. She went on to be the Deputy News Design Director at the Chicago Sun-Times in 1999. She has been teaching since 2001 and has spoken at more than 30 conferences and seminars. Her research interests include visual rhetoric, multimedia storytelling, media convergence and digital publishing. She has a Masters Degree from Ball State in Composition and Rhetoric and a Bachelor’s in Journalism. She is also the author of two books, A Practical Guide to Graphics Reporting (Focal Press 2006) and Design Interactive an electronic textbook on basic design principles.

John Belcher

Professor, Department of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, USA

Prof. John Belcher has taught electromagnetism at all levels at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, from graduate courses to introductory first year physics courses. He is interested in visualization and was the lead in developing many physics visualizations that can be found at http://web.mit.edu/8.02t/www/802TEAL3D/. Professor Belcher’s research interests are in the areas of space plasma physics, outer planet magnetospheres, solar wind in the outer heliosphere, and astrophysical plasmas. He was the principal investigator on the Voyager Plasma Science Experiment during the Voyager Nepture Encounter—the end of the Grand Tour. He is now a co-investigator on the Plasma Science Experiment on board the Voyager Interstellar Mission.

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