Why Use Multimedia?
One of the greatest reasons for using multimedia is that it allows the learner to experience the material in a manner other than reading the text. It addresses different learning styles by allowing the learner to access multiple paths for learning. Multimedia can also make learning more memorable and effective for the learner by increasing the learner's retention and recall of a topic. Using text alone incorporates a single learning modality, but mixing text with voice narration, pictures, animation, and other media will engage participants and enhance the learning experience for everyone. When using multimedia, be careful not to use it gratuitously, but specifically to convey information.
Different Forms of Multimedia
Animation is a great way to show cause and effect, process and results. Best used in order to minimize distractions of unnecessary details. Simple hand-drawn animations can be as effective as complex animations or full-motion video segments.
- Can distill the subject to just the essentials.
- Extensive availability of free graphics online.
- Can be used for simulations.
- Interactivity can be an advantage for kinesthetic learners.
- Time consuming, expensive to create, and require technical ability.
- Depending upon software, may require special plug-ins.
- Transcripts, long descriptions, or an appropriate equivalent for animations must be provided.
Audio is most often used to accompany text and incorporate a second learning modality into lectures and other text documents. Audio can also provide continuity between lessons by providing a brief review of what has already happened, before engaging in the next lesson. It is one of the most powerful tools used when teaching languages or specialty vocabulary (e.g., medical) and can provide a sense of realism. (See chart comparing file types.)
- Audio voice-over can be used in videos to provide narration on a process or procedure that is demonstrated.
- Can be an important means of communication for visually impaired students.
- Download time when the audio file is large.
- Poor quality audio can be difficult to hear.
- Students may not have the hardware to listen to audio.
- Transcripts of audio files must be provided.
CD-ROM can be used to store any form of media (video, audio, animation, graphics, etc.). Excellent to use when information will require long downloads.
- No download time.
- Inexpensive to produce and distribute.
- Technology is very accessible both to instructors and to students. Will hold a large amount of information.
- Information becomes dated; new CDs must be created to update contents.
- Production time
- Must distribute the CD to your students and a charge may be required.
Graphics are best to illustrate ideas or show relationship between objects. When descriptive text helps to convey the meaning, it is important to provide these details in a caption or in call-outs. An image database is helpful and gives easy access to find specific pictures.
- Accommodates visual learners.
- Learners process graphics faster than text.
- Images may be downloaded or printed for further use.
- Time consuming to create an image database.
- File size may be an issue unless the files are compressed and optimized. (See, More on graphics: JPEGs vs. GIFs.)
- A description of the image must be included by using an “alt” tag (alternative text) or a “d-link” (descriptive hyperlink).
Video can be used for presenting visually rich material that might be otherwise difficult to explain. It is an excellent tool for demonstrating processes and procedures. Video can help gain and hold the attention of learners, which makes it a great tool for providing introductions and orientations. Good examples of using instructional video include: demonstrating software applications, teaching complex movements, providing performance feedback.
- Increases learner retention and recall.
- Students can review video on-demand.
- Provides visual enhancement.
- Captures actual behavior/performance.
- Adds variety and alternative ways of teaching/learning.
- Poor video planning and quality can result in a video that is not effective -- but distracting (i.e., poor lighting, sound, camera angles).
- Requires substantial bandwidth and processing power.
- Can be expensive and time consuming to produce.
- Special software/hardware may be required to display video.
- Video clips must be closed-captioned or provide an equivalent text alternative.
Guptil, A. (2005). Creating Digital Media for Online Instructions. California State University, East Bay, Spring 2005 EDUI 6781. [presentation, lecture notes].