Getting StartedSite MapHome
Enhancing Education: A Children's Producer's Guide. ProcessFormatsCase StudiesResearch and Resources


Digital media such as Web sites, CD-ROMS, and DVD-ROMS all share similar functionality and content options. They run on a computer, and they allow your audience to create their own paths through your educational content.

Basic Web pages use a code called HTML, or Hypertext Mark-up Language. HTML allows you to place text and images and, increasingly, to control how and where on the page these elements appear. HTML also includes coding tags that allow you to link from one page to another or one place in a page to another, as well as to define areas of an image that can also serve as links. Other compatible codes, such as JavaScript, can add further functionality to Web pages.

A software application called a Web browser allows you to view HTML pages. You can add additional media types and interactive functionalities to a Web page using software called a plug-in. The user may need to install the correct version of a plug-in in order to see such elements. Plug-ins are generally available for free and can be downloaded from the Web using your browser.

Plug-ins allow you to include many different elements on your Web site, including video, print layouts, and interactive or animated materials. They add useful functionality to your site, but you should check that the plug-in you require is readily available and will work across various types of computers. If you require too many plug-ins, or uncommon ones, your audience may be unwilling or unable to use your site.

If users will need a plug-in to access features on your Web site, make that clear on the home page or on pages that link to the features, and provide links to the sites where the plug-in is available for downloading. Provide an alternate version of a feature, such as a text- and image-only version, that will be accessible to people who can't use the plug-in version because of its larger download size, or because, in the case of visually impaired users, the plug-in version is not compatible with assistive technologies, such as screen readers. (To learn more about Web-accessibility issues, see the Making Media Accessible section of this guide.)

CD-ROMs and DVD-ROMs are compact discs that run on a computer drive. They can serve as "hard copy" distribution for your Web pages, allowing people to see your content (but not links to other sites on the Web), regardless of whether they have an Internet connection. These discs may be especially useful if your digital content contains many large media files, such as digital video, which can be slow or difficult to download from the Internet.

CD-ROMs and DVD-ROMs can also be developed using computer languages or authoring tools other than HTML and plug-ins. You will need to work with a skilled computer programmer to produce these interactive media. Producing a CD-ROM or DVD-ROM follows much the same production process as producing a Web site, except that you need to schedule manufacturing and distribution of the final product.

Note that a DVD-ROM is different from a video DVD; a video DVD runs on a DVD player rather than a computer. You can add educational enhancements to a DVD of your video; these are described in the Video Formats section of this guide.

Characteristics of Web/Interactive media
  • They are neither time-restricted nor subject to a broadcast schedule. People can come to them at any time and continue to use them long after the initial broadcast window of the video program.
  • They are visual, textual, and interactive. These media can present still and animated imagery effectively and show limited amounts of motion video. They can also make use of audio (to help a child learn to read, for example). Users can control the way they access content and can "make things happen."
  • They are nonlinear. You can't expect everyone to use them in the same way, nor in the same order. Web and other interactive materials can work sequentially if you want them to (as in a step-through animation), but you must design the experience so you encourage users to approach the material this way.

Download PDF of this section Get Acrobat Reader Download this section as an Acrobat PDF

In this section:

>  Web/Interactive

        Types of

        Media Elements

        Writing for
        Children's Web Sites

        Web Production
        & Distribution

        Web Budgeting
        & Scheduling



Process | Formats | Case Studies | Research & Resources
Home | Getting Started | Site Map | Privacy Policy

© 2004, Corporation for Public Broadcasting. All rights reserved.