Multimedia presentations can be defined as coordinated verbal and pictorial messages and research strongly supports the idea that students learn better from words and pictures than words alone (Mayer, R (2009), Multimedia Learning, 2nd edition, p 268). The research is preliminary, but it does suggest that well designed multimedia presentations work best when the material is complex and delivered at a rapid pace for the learner. This begs some questions, like what makes a well designed multimedia presentation? How fast is fast paced, would it differ from student to student? Is this a byproduct of the MTV generation? As opposed to trying to figure out a formula, Richard Mayer in Multimedia Learning (2009) has developed the cognitive theory of multimedia learning, which specifies-
• People have separate auditory and visual channels.
• These channels are limited in capacity.
• Meaningful learning involves actively selecting, organizing, and integrating incoming visual and auditory information.
So, how do we get all this information into and understood by these channels? Well, there are 12 principles to consider which break down into three types - principles that reduce extraneous processing, principles that manage essential processing, and principles that foster generative processing.
Principles That Reduce Extraneous Processing
• Coherence Principle - People learn better with extraneous works, pictures and sounds are excluded rather than included.
• Signaling Principle - People learn better when cues that highlight the organization of the essential material are added.
• Redundancy Principle - People learn better from graphics and narration that from graphics, narration and onscreen text.
• Spatial contiguity Principle - People learn better when corresponding words and pictures are presented near rather than far from each other on the page or screen.
• Temporal Contiguity Principle - People learn better when corresponding words and pictures are presented simultaneously rather than successively.
Principles That Manage Essential Processing
• Segmenting Principle - People learn better when a multimedia lesson is presented in user-paced segments rather than as a continuous unit.
• Pre-training Principle - People learn better from a multimedia lesson when they know the names and characteristics of the main concepts.
• Modality Principle - People learn better from graphics and narration than from graphics and on-screen text.
Principles That Foster Generative Processing
• Multimedia Principle - People learn better from words and pictures than from words alone.
• Personalization Principle - People learn better from multimedia lessons when words are in a conversational style rather than a formal style.
• Voice Principle - People learn better when the narration in multimedia is spoken in a friendly human voice rather than a machine voice.
• Image Principle - People do not necessarily learn better from a multimedia lesson when the speakers’ image is added to the screen.
Wow, that’s a lot of principles. These shouldn’t be viewed as a formula, but as recommendations to think about when creating multimedia presentations. ATI multimedia presentations in both Instructional Dialogs and assessment items have been built with these principles in mind.
Senior Multimedia Specialist