Monday, August 23, 2010

Reflection on EIDT-6120-4 Multimedia Design and Development

As I reflect on media design and development, the principle that stands out most, is that multimedia is an instructional designer’s “power tool,” which used correctly, can help learners to focus and to build a mental model of a dynamic process, or it can be a distraction, causing cognitive overload, and reduced effectiveness. (Mayer, 2007, pp. 171-184).

Prior to taking this course, I was aware that media is an effective way to motivate and focus learning. I was also aware that technical issues can destroy any positive benefit that might be provided by multimedia enrichment. I had experienced the distraction that can be caused when text references illustrations and graphs that are not on the same page.

Now I know ways to prevent cognitive overload through controlling the proximity of text to illustrations, and in multimedia, of using dual “input channels” to leverage visual and auditory memory to reduce cognitive overload.

What have you learned about how multimedia can be effectively leveraged to design good learning experiences?

Perhaps the most important principle of using multimedia effectively, is know when not to use it, and knowing when animation is appropriate, and when a static illustration would be better. Betrancourt discussed the principle that animation should be used to illustrate a dynamic system, and static images better illustrate static concepts (Betrancourt, 2005, p. 287–296).

Prior to taking this course, I would have generally preferred to use photographs and colored graphics over simple line drawing illustrations, but now I understand that often the simpler illustrations to a better job of focusing the learner’s attention where it needs to be focused. Beautiful pictures might provide better motivation, but line drawings are simple and direct.

What are your thoughts on the future of using multimedia to enhance and deliver instructional content?
It is my opinion that multimedia can enhance learning, but the “core” of a well-designed instructional plan depends on much more than multimedia. It depends on providing learners with the information and the context with which to construct their own understanding, individually, and as part of a group. Learning is enhanced when it involves social interaction, whether that interaction is real, or whether multimedia simulates that interaction.

Different kinds of learners need different kinds of instruction, and multimedia can help provide this necessary variety, but it is not possible to meet the needs of every learner. Learners are ultimately responsible to construct their own understanding, using the resources that have been provided. Multimedia provides resources that can be more effective than text and images alone. 

References: (2010). [Image]. Retrieved from

Betrancourt, M. (2005). The animation and interactivity principles in multimedia learning. In R. Mayer (Ed.), The Cambridge handbook of multimedia learning (p. 287–296). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from

Mayer, R. E. (2007). Five features of effective multimedia messages: An evidence-based approach. In S. M. Fiore & E. Salas (Eds.), Toward a science of distributed learning (pp. 171-184). Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.