How Educators Made Sense of New Media Multiplicity10.1515/9783110740202.
The term “multimedia” is associated with the proliferation of audiovisual and computational media technologies in the second half of the twentieth century, but visions of orchestrating a plurality of media devices, particularly for educational purposes, appeared earlier than this. This chapter traces the emergence of a multimedia sensibility in U.S. education in the interwar years. Offering the concept of media litanies, it describes how educators made sense of the multiplicity of new media and resisted commercial claims about the transformative teaching power of singular technologies by calling into focus the wide variety of devices that teachers could use and combine according to their pedagogical needs. The chapter also discusses early “multimedia” experiments in schools, such as illustrated radio, in which educators synchronized radio broadcasts, lantern slides, and filmstrips to produce audiovisual lessons. Together, these early educational discourses and efforts helped pave the way for corporate and cultural visions of multimedia to gain valence later in the century.