Multimedia learning proposes ways of going beyond the pure verbal messages which have been used in lectures and printed lessons for hundreds of years. Multimedia learning as Thomas Edison predicted has proved to be an effective method of teaching, has revolutionized our educational system and has supplanted the use of textbooks. Multimedia presentations are known to help learners. The newly developed multimedia technologies which incorporate simultaneous presentations of narration, images and text make the possibilities for instruction vast.
Yet how should educators use these technologies to ensure that there is optimal learning? The answer is that the multimedia messages should be designed in the best way using the eight principles for multimedia design as a guideline. Background to the multimedia principles: Mayer is known for his research in the field of cognitive theory. According to Mayer, a multimedia instructional message is a presentation which involves words (such as spoken or written text) and pictures (such as animation, video, illustrations, and photographs) in which the goal is to promote learning.
Mayer links cognitive learning theory to multimedia design issues, validating three theory-based assumptions about how people learn from words and pictures: the (1) dual channel assumption which is based upon the theory that pictures are seen by eyes and are processed as pictorial representations in the visual-pictorial channel. Spoken words on the other hand enter through ears and are processed in the other channel of human cognition, the auditory-verbal channel. (2) Limited capacity assumption is demonstrated by auditory- verbal overload.
Because each channel in the human cognitive system has a limited capacity for holding and manipulating knowledge, presenting too many visuals and a lot of sounds at the same time causes the auditory-visual channel to become overloaded. And the (3) Active processing assumption implies that optimal learning occurs when learners engage in active processing within the channels which include relevant words and pictures organized into coherent pictorial and verbal models and integrated with each other and other knowledge.
The discovery of the eight principles of multimedia design was a result of Mayer’s research. Each principle was based on the cognitive theory and was supported by the finding of the research. The multimedia principles discussed with good and bad practice examples: These eight principles are explained as follows in more detail, along with their applications. Multimedia Principle: This principle states that carefully and selectively chosen words and pictures enhance a learner’s understanding of an explanation better than words alone.
Mayer tells us that deeper understanding occurs because students mentally connect pictorial and verbal representations of the explanation. A study was conducted in which students viewed a narrated animation about pumps or brakes or simply listened to a narration; the students who viewed the narrated animation scored substantially higher. There are numerous examples of the multimedia principle. Desktop publishing programs and the illustrative capabilities of Microsoft Word and PowerPoint adding pictures to a multimedia presentation has become relatively easy.
A good practice example would be to use an animation of how an earthquake occurs to support the textual and/or verbal description: “when the frictional stress of gliding plate boundaries goes beyond a certain value and causes a failure at a fault line, which results in a violent dislocation of the Earth’s crust. At this point, elastic strain energy is released causing elastic waves to be radiated, leading to an earthquake. ” The goal of this principle is best achieved when graphics used are meaningful and illustrative in juxtaposition with text.
Images which convey meaning, not simply multitudes of clip art images with no instructional purpose. It would be bad practice heaps of pictures which show destructions caused by earthquakes are used when explaining how earthquakes occur. It would actually be a hindrance in the process of learning as it would take focus off the topic and instead bring the costs of the earthquake into discussion. A good use of this principle would be when pictures and animations are used for presenting instructional content where there are used as lesson interfaces and not for any decorative purpose.
Contiguity Principle: The contiguity principle examines how words and pictures should be coordinated in multimedia presentations. This principle states that there is more effective learning when the narration and animation are presented simultaneously rather than successively. Also, words and associative pictures should be close each other and presented at the same time so that when the narration or words describes a particular process or action, the animation or picture shows it at the same time.
A good practice example of the contiguity principle would be showing a car assembly procedure where narration and video are presented simultaneously. Students would learn better when the two things are coordinated than otherwise. It would be bad practice if the entire textual description or narration of the car assembly procedure which has 23 stages is presented first, prior to the animation or when the animation is played prior to the verbal description. A good idea is to display the narration and animation in close time proximity so that when words describe the action, the visual depicts the same action at the same time.
This will make it more likely for the learner to build mental connections linking the verbal and visual representations. Modality Principle: This principle states that students learn more deeply and effectively when words are presented as narration rather than on-screen text. Using animation and text is a method most people use when designing PowerPoint presentations. According to Mayer when both pictures and words are used are displayed in multimedia, only the visual channel is utilized and it easily becomes overloaded.
A good idea therefore is to use both processing channels; the visual/pictorial channel and the auditory/verbal channel. When the narration presented is auditory, it is processed by the auditory channel allowing the visual channel the resources to process the graphical content without it becoming overloaded. A good practice example of this principle would be to present an animation of how a bicycle tire pump works together with the narration of the explanation. Presenting some information in visual mode and some in auditory mode will expand working memory capacity and reduce excessive cognitive load.
It would not be a good idea to play the narration after or before the animation. Redundancy Principle: This principle states that students learn far better from multimedia presentations consisting of animation and narration than from animation, narration, and text. The redundancy principle rejects the idea of presenting duplicate instructions in different forms. Unless it is necessary, presenting the same information both in narration and on-screen text hinders the process of learning rather than facilitating it.
Some people think presenting the same information in multiple forms is safe and at best advantageous. However we must understand the architecture of human cognition. When dealing with new and technical instruction, working memory is very limited and presenting the same information in narration and on-screen text will mean that not all information will be processed. A good practice of this principle would be when a lecturer uses presentations to deliver his lectures. He can narrate the instructions while his presentations present animation and pictures.
It would not be good practice if the lecturer has text heavy-slides and yet continues to try to maintain the attention of the audience. This redundancy causes the learners or audience to become wrapped up in either the verbal presentation or the textual material and miss the other. Even worse the learner may decide to not pay attention at all when he is being bombarded with so much information. Coherence Principle: This principle states that students learn better from multimedia presentations when irrelevant material is excluded rather than integrated.
Irrelevant words and pictures, interesting but irrelevant sounds and unnecessary words huts the student’s learning process. Learners throughout the multimedia presentation try to make sense of the material by building a coherent mental representation and any irrelevant information that comes out of nowhere is likely to disturb the process. A good practice example of this principle would be that when discussing the issue of widespread public display of affection and whether there should be laws imposed against it.
It would be a good idea to stick to the topic and present points for or against the argument and the reach a conclusion. If however a person is tempted to spice up the presentation, it would be bad practice. Including dramatic stories of politicians engaged in the art of public affection and video clips where couples are seen showing affection in public would be highly entertaining but off topic and the audience might get upset if they do not make out anything from the four hour long presentation.
It would also not be a good idea to include any other non instructional material such as unrelated clip arts, background music, sound clips or detailed textual descriptions. Personalization Principle: The personalization principle states that students learn better when words are presented in a conversational style than in a formal or expository style. Students or audience responds better when a more personalized tone is used in narration. A good example of this principle is when explaining how a human respiratory system works, there is a use of ‘your’ instead of ‘the’.
For example instead of saying ” During inhaling the diaphragm move down creating more space for the lungs” we say ” When you inhale, your diaphragm moves down creating more space for your lungs”. Also when addressing community issues using multimedia presentations it is always a good idea to use ‘your community’ rather than ‘the community’. It will help the learners see that it is his community that has issue and not some other community and will provoke him to take action or become a responsible member of the community. Segmenting principle: This principle states that lessons should be divided into manageable segments.
When an unfamiliar learner is introduced to a continuous presentation with a lot of inter related concepts which are complex it is easy for the cognitive system to become overloaded. A good practice of this principle would be when a lecture breaks down complex geometry problems into segments rather than present them as a single solution. This helps learners learn at their own pace. Pre-training principle: This principle suggests that people learn better from multimedia presentations when they are familiar with the names and idea of the core concepts.
There is a better transfer of knowledge when the audience is trained on the components the presentation would use preceding a narrated animation. A good practice of this example is when explaining the phenomenon of global warming to children, it would work better when terminologies such as green house gases are explained and smaller concepts are built before proceeding to the presentation. This will help the children integrate their built in concepts into understanding the main problem of global warming.
It is not good practice to start with the subject before providing the learners with an appropriate start up knowledge neither would it be a good idea to stop in the middle of the lecture to explain some terminology or a hidden concept. Conclusion: Multimedia enhances learning but for learning to be optimal, there should be effective use of animation, narration and on-screen test in multimedia presentations. Techniques to increase working memory by reducing cognitive load have been proposed by many theorists. These techniques improve instructional design, learning efficiency, and effectiveness. Richard E.
Mayer and his Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning has highlighted well-established principles of multimedia learning which the research continues to support, including (a) the multimedia principle, (b) the contiguity principle, (d) the modality principle, (e) the redundancy principle, and (f) the coherence principle and (e) the personalization principle. These principles aid users to design effective multimedia presentations. References Clark, R. C. & Mayer, R. E. (2003). e- Learning and the science of instruction: Proven guidelines for consumers and designers of multimedia learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer.