Resources Design and Development
Edith Cowan University
In many examples of interactive multimedia (IMM), it is evident that the multimedia computer environment is chosen as a delivery medium not because of its multimedia capacity but because of the computer control. In designing instructional sequences with IMM, it is important to make use of the media attributes as well as the computer control if the instruction is to achieve its full potential. This paper will discuss some good and bad examples of the use of IMM technology and will describe strategies by which the multimedia capabilities of CBL can be used to increase the effectiveness of learning materials.
Like any other instructional delivery medium, multimedia can be used well and it can be used poorly. When we consider the advantages to be gained from this technology, it must be remembered that these can only really be gained from applications that use the technology in sound and proper ways. One of the principal attractions of multimedia to universities is its apparent capacity to replace conventional face-to-face teaching. With multimedia, students are free to learn at their own pace, in their own time and in many cases at a place of their choosing. This, however, is not the real advantage of the use of multimedia over conventional teaching. Multimedia has the ability to achieve significant learning gains and it is this aspect that should guide its usage and development.
The development of multimedia programs follows similar instructional design principles as any other media, but multimedia developments differ significantly from conventional developments in the facilities and features they provide the instructional designer. Much of the advantage of multimedia is to be derived from astute usage of the media elements in interactive and purposeful activities that engage the learner rather than in replicating conventional instruction in this new form. Our observations of much of the multimedia material that is currently being developed and used in instructional programs underutilises the best features of multimedia by failing to take advantage of the ability of this technology to provide and manage meaningful and engaging practice and activity.
University education normally seeks to develop advanced knowledge and skills development. The instructional strategies that are most suited to this are those that foster deep levels of cognitive processing, reflective thinking and knowledge construction. Traditional instruction is often driven by instructivist principles that expose learners to prescribed and determined inputs. Preferable environments are those where the learner initiates dialogue with an environment that supports and engages the learner.
Multimedia learning environments can be readily designed and built to foster this form of student activity and learning. Typical applications involve microworlds or learning environments in which the students are able to experiment with and manipulate variables to construct their own meaning. Other forms include hypermedia where learners operate in an information space and interact with various knowledge forms to derive their own meaning and understanding through guided activities. Multimedia microworlds are able to offer a range of simulated activities and environments removed in only small ways from real world applications.
The forms of multimedia described above are infrequently observed in the products and developments from educational institutions. They represent a far move from traditional instructional designs with which most lecturers and teachers are familiar. A large number of applications are merely electronic reproductions of conventional instructional materials and take little advantage of the new environment apart from the computer delivery. This had led some writers to redefine multimedia as being a form of computer-based learning material distinguishable from other forms by the amount and level of computer control and interactivity (e.g., Allen & Hoffman, 1993 ). Multimedia is seen as one end of a continuum describing computer-based instructional materials with sequential links between instructional and media elements. At the other extreme is hypermedia where links exists between all instructional and media elements to facilitate wide and unstructured forms of user access and interaction (Figure 1).
Figure 1: A continuum describing the architecture of computer-based learning materials.
If teachers and developers are to maximise the effectiveness of multimedia programs, it is essential to utilise the media attributes that characterise the technology and contribute to its strength as an instructional tool. This necessarily entails moving along the continuum and structuring presentations and activities to create instructional environments where the user plays an active and engaging role in the learning process.
Multimedia programs that ignore the attributes and strengths of the medium is multimedia at its worst. But some attention to the design of the program to capitalise on the unique characteristics of multimedia will result in a program which encourages higher order thinking and learning, and is challenging and enjoyable to use.
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|Please cite as: Oliver, R. and Herrington, J. (1995). Making the most of the media in multimedia. In Summers, L. (Ed), A Focus on Learning, p194-198. Proceedings of the 4th Annual Teaching Learning Forum, Edith Cowan University, February 1995. Perth: Edith Cowan University. http://lsn.curtin.edu.au/tlf/tlf1995/oliver.html|