Multimedia for Teaching and Learning
Multimedia learning is the process of learning, usually in a classroom or similarly structured environment, through the use of multimedia presentations and teaching methods. This can typically be applied to any subject and generally any sort of learning process can either be achieved or enhanced through a careful application of multimedia materials. Multimedia learning is often closely connected to the use of technology in the classroom, as advances in technology have often made incorporation of multimedia easier and more complete.
In general, the term “multimedia” is used to refer to any type of application or activity that utilizes different types of media or formats in the presentation of ideas. With regard to education, multimedia learning usually means the use of different types of media to teach a lesson or enhance a lesson with further examples or activities for students. This type of learning can be as simple as using film clips of footage shot during World War II while learning about the war in a history class, or as complicated as having students use computer software to create simulations in a physics class. The connection between multimedia learning and technology is usually made because advances in technology often make the use of different media easier and less expensive for schools and teachers. This is demonstrated by the use of overhead projectors in the classroom. Initially these projectors allowed teachers to go beyond the limitations of the chalkboard and present ideas in writing in a way the entire class could see more easily. Technology has advanced beyond the older projectors, however, and modern smart boards and digital projectors allow a teacher to type at a computer and have it displayed for the entire room to see. This type of multimedia learning can also include a teacher seamlessly incorporating video clips or interactive presentation software on the computer into a lesson as well. Multimedia learning goes beyond passive learning, however, and can also allow students to interact with computer software and video or audio presentations to further enhance their learning. Some students, for example, may be able to learn about the human body through lectures and images in books that demonstrate the various systems within the body. For other students, however, the ability to use a computer program that provides a digital model of the human body and how each system is interrelated can be far more powerful. Especially as the students are able to interact with the model and see each system separately and together from various angles and points of view. This effort to give the tools of learning to students, then allow them to learn in the way that is most meaningful for them, is one of the cornerstones of multimedia learning.
The Five Elements of Multimedia
Multimedia fall into one of five main categories and use varied techniques for digital formatting. One or any combination of this content can be used to enhance your website or social media platform.
As a multimedia option, text can easily be overlooked, but it is still the most fundamental element and most effective way to communicate in multimedia. Text is used as headlines, subtitles, and slogans. It’s purpose is to express specific information or reinforce information in other media. It involves the use of text types, sizes, colours and background colour. For example, you can choose the font and it’s size and colour to set a tone or project an image, or you can choose the mood you want to evoke with background colour. Text can make the intended message you want to convey through multimedia more understandable, it can be used as an alternative in case a digital image is not available in a visitor’s browser, and other media or related information can be accessed by clicking on text links. Text options in multimedia are limitless!
Presentational Characteristics of Text
- Text is particularly good at handling abstraction and generalisation, mainly through written language
- Text enables the linear sequencing of information in a structured format
- Text can present and separate empirical evidence or data from the abstractions, conclusions or generalisations derived from the empirical evidence
- Text’s linear structure enables the development of coherent, sequential argument or discussion
- At the same time text can relate evidence to argument and vice versa
- Text’s recorded and permanent nature enables independent analysis and critique of its content
- Still graphics such as graphs or diagrams enable knowledge to be presented differently from written language, either providing concrete examples of abstractions or offering a different way of representing the same knowledge
Graphics are an important part of multimedia because humans are visually oriented. Images including photographs, illustrations, drawings, clip art, icons or any other non-text elements on a website or in social media are an example of graphics. There is no movement in these types of pictures. Still/static pictures typically accompany text to illustrate the point or ideas the text makes. Photos in a multimedia application go beyond using them just as decoration. In a multimedia context graphics may consist of slide shows or galleries that a website or social media visitor can view. They may have clickability that leads the viewer to another element, such as audio or video. Graphics appear in many multimedia applications providing communication through attractive visual affects.
Ways to Use Graphics for Learning
Virtually everyone has an opinion on how to use graphics in their training materials. The criteria most people use for selecting visual elements is typically based on surface features—things like style, colouring, degree of realism, etc. While there is no doubt those are important considerations, they have little, if anything, to do with how well a graphic contributes to the learning experience. When it comes to learning, evidence suggests that how you use your graphics is more important than their visual properties. It is much more important for a graphic to clearly communicate your message regardless of how it looks. Representational graphics are used to represent the actual appearance of something. These types of visuals are best for presenting things learners will encounter when transferring their learning to actual tasks. Representational graphics include things like software application screens, forms, equipment, etc.
Graphic demonstrating levers in Physics
Animated elements are common multimedia applications. Animation is a series of images put together to give the effect of movement. In multimedia, 2D and 3D digital animation is used. Movement, rather than just viewing a still image, is especially useful for illustrating concepts that involve movement. Animation is used to add visual interest or bring attention to important information or links. It can illustrate how things work or present information in entertaining ways. Animation can also include interactive effects allowing visitors to engage with the animation action using their mouse and keyboard. Animation is a dynamic and media-rich content that stays within one container on a page – a very powerful form of communication.
Animation showing exchange of gases in plants
Sound can enhance your website design and social media platforms. It is a multimedia application that uses dialogue, recorded narration, music and sound effects. These are called the audio or sound elements. When used in moderation, adding multimedia such as sound to your presentation can be a great way to catch and focus the visitor’s attention, to deliver information to visitors, and to help reinforce the visitor’s comprehension of the information presented. For example, narration can be used to describe what is being seen in an animation clip enhancing the understanding of what the clip is all about. Featuring related music and special sound effects are also very effective multimedia applications that can add to the visitor’s experience.
Video is a visual multimedia application that combines a sequence of images to form moving pictures and sound. Video can have an impact on websites and on social media platforms in a very unique and powerful way. You can inform the world that your company exists, spread the word about your company, grab attention to show your visitors how to do something, showcase a new product, build brand awareness, or even promote an upcoming event. You name it, you can do it with video!
Video is ideally suited to showing practical demonstrations of a task or theory. There is a long history of this type of content being used within education as it suits students with a range of preferred learning styles. The success of this kind of video to explain both basic and complex concepts is evident by the numerous popular examples on YouTube.
Why Teach with Video?
When students have access to video content to watch outside of class, class time can be used for comprehension checks, discussion, and reinforcement of content. Multimedia content helps to vary and enhance the learning process, and leads to better knowledge retention. Educational video can provide more opportunities for students to engage with the content. Students around the world can learn from course content made available through video. Video can sometimes demonstrate complex ideas and access other times and places better than speaking can. Video can help instructors overcome limitations like large class sizes and limited time.
What can we do with video?
Instructors can use video to provide supplemental materials for their students. This can help reinforce content and give students resources to prepare for assessments. Many teachers have benefitted from using video to flip their classroom. A flipped course is one in which students absorb new material largely outside of class time. Instructors benefit from flipped classrooms. When a course is flipped, teachers have more time available to engage with their students, rather than racing through introductions to new content. Once an instructor has created or found a suitable video content, they possess a permanent library of learning resources which can be reused for new students in various learning contexts. Students benefit from flipped classrooms. In a flipped course, students have more opportunities to engage with their instructor and peers. Students also can take greater ownership over their education, and are allowed a level of flexibility that is unavailable in traditional class structures. Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, are created largely through video. These courses consist of a series of learning modules that explain content, punctuated by comprehension checks at the end of each section. They are valuable for students around the world learning in diverse contexts.
How is Video Best used in the Classroom?
Successful and productive school use of television and video has increased dramatically over the last decades. As the technology continues to grow both more
sophisticated and more user-friendly, teachers continue to become more skilful at
integrating these media into their instruction. In recent survey, 92% of teachers said that using TV and video helped them teach more effectively, and 88% said that “it enabled them to be more creative” in the classroom (CPB, 2017).
As with all educational technologies, the value of video relies on how it is implemented in the classroom. Reviews and meta-analysis of the research indicates that positive learning and affective outcomes are greatly enhanced and extended when the
video is integrated into the rest of the lesson. Effectively integrating video into classroom instruction involves preparation and activities before, during and after viewing. Teachers can prepare for using video by previewing the content, establishing clear purposes for viewing and deciding what selections will best support that purpose. The value of video “is highly correlated to its integration within the curriculum—in other words, how closely the content fits into the overall instructional sequence”. For instance, video may be used at the beginning of a unit to whip up interest, during
a unit or lesson to bring demonstrations into the classroom that might not otherwise be possible, or as a means of reviewing or reinforcing content. Supporting students to engage with video as active learners requires creating the right setting for such learning to occur.
Setting expectations for students and providing a context for the activity, beneficial with any learning tasks, may be especially crucial for viewing of video with
content that is highly emotionally-charged.
Selecting Video Content
Selecting effective video is an essential component of integrating this medium into practice and realizing the promise of multimedia in the classroom. In reviewing the
historical, political and economic contexts of each major classroom technology over the past century, one of the most significant factors in the success or failure of an educational technology is the quality of the content, rather than the technology itself. Selecting video that has strong, visually-rich educational content is a critical element for maximizing the effectiveness of video.
Video is a visual medium, and optimal use capitalizes on the strengths of its visual material. This includes providing visual demonstrations or evidence, dramatizing
events and concepts, and appealing to the emotions. Educational video with instructional strategies and cognitive modelling traits embedded in the video itself can aid in student comprehension. Examples range from zooming in on details, to providing titles and other attention-drawing graphics, to animations. Videos with closed captioning can further promote learners’ reading fluency and motivation to read.
The following are suggestions of positives to look for when evaluating videos:
- Variation in the presentation
- Age-appropriate narration and developmentally-appropriate thinking skills
- Chunking, or organization in sections
- Provision of meaningful examples
- Posing of open-ended questions
- Opportunities for students to carry out individual thinking
- Opportunities for extension
- Teacher guides outlining possibilities for previewing or extension activities.
Video becomes less effective if the selections shown depend too closely on non-visual
elements of video and thus exploit the weaknesses of the medium by presenting abstract and non-visual information, relying too much on a “talking heads” style of conveying information or presenting intellectual arguments not backed up with physical evidence. Since video conveys information that is both auditory and visual, these two modes must work in concert for video to be most effective. Overly-dramatic sound tracks, visuals and narration that are not supportive of one another, and excessive use of still frames or slides can all distract from the educational message.
Merits of using Multimedia in the Classroom
Using multimedia in classroom helps educators engage students and provide them with valuable learning opportunities. It is easy to remember a picture than a paragraph, an animated video of a concept worth more of a lecture and a video demonstration of a process (or an instrument) by a scientist gives more real time knowledge than a theoretical explanation. There is no doubt educators consider multimedia as a great tool to improve student learning. Here are a few benefits of using multimedia in classroom:
- Multimedia empowers students to create and design rather than absorb representations created by others.
- It improves reflective thinking.
- It also provides students with suitable learning resources according to their learning styles and abilities.
Most of the educators and administrators are adopting latest educational technologies in order to reach the 21st century learning standards. Of all those tech approaches, usage of multimedia is one of the great tools to engage students. Let’s hear what educators suggest about new ways of using multimedia in classroom below:
Personalized Learning using Multimedia Resources: Multimedia resources help different learners meet their learning needs. As we know, different students have different learning styles, educators can easily provide them with suitable learning resources using multimedia. Educators use YouTube to provide visual learners with online videos, podcasts for auditory learners and interactive games for tactile learners. Multimedia resources make everything easy for students to learn in their comfortable learning style. Unlike traditional approaches, in which only the teachers used to lead the entire classroom delivering long lectures at the same pace, the use of multimedia results in personalization of learning.
Group Learning: Multimedia tools such as blogs, social networks and wikis enable students to work together in learning a particular concept. Students use these to share their works with others, give feedbacks on others’ works and discuss among others a particular topic. It can be done through either blogging or micro blogging (Tweets). Using these multimedia tools, educators can engage students in several works and watch them collaborating with each other, peer assessing each other’s works and learning as a group.
Improve Presentation skills: Using storyboarding, videos and slideshows is a great way to improve student learning, because it allows them to engage with text in a very visual way aided by multimedia. Multimedia tools enable students to express their ideas and works in concise ways that capture the attention of the audience and they develop an ability to communicate thoughts and concepts through a variety of resources, including text and recorded narrations.
Giving students a wider choice of software and tools to present their work is an effective approach as it allows learners to decide on the style of presentation that best suits their personality. This is also a way to allow the learners to engage in their education in a more personalized way and also improve their creativity, critical thinking and reflective thoughts.
Practical Disadvantages to Using Multimedia
Multimedia lessons or components of lessons delivered via video or image require computers, projectors and other electronic devices depending upon the subject and the amount of original material a teacher creates. The expense associated with quality projectors or computers for every student can be quite high, and the number of images and videos in a lesson can slow down the delivery and pace of the class as a result. Student access to computers at home may also cause problems, and varying quality of student electronic devices can create inequity in projects and presentations. When designing a multimedia learning experience, the role of the teacher shifts from instructor to facilitator. If a lesson allows students to complete learning at their own pace as they move through stages of learning, classroom management becomes increasingly difficult. This is particularly true if students work in groups to view multimedia sources or share computers. Additionally, students who are not as proficient with technology may have to spend more time learning computer skills to access information than focusing on course materials.
Multimedia storage is an important concern in developing multimedia products because a huge amount of storage is required due to the presence of streaming media like audio and video, in addition to static media. Even static media like images consume a substantial amount of memory space. There are two aspects of storage, namely, devices for storage as well as storage of data in databases.
Some of the popular devices for multimedia storage are:
- Magnetic media. E.g. Discs, floppies, and tapes
- Optical media. E.g . Gramophone, compact disc (CD), CD-ROM (read-only memory), CD-R (CD-read); CD-RW (read-write); and enhanced CD
- Flash and solid-state chip devices
- Cloud storage
- File systems (traditional, multimedia)
The output devices for the stored data are:
- Scanner (for capture of data)
- Charge-coupled devices (CCDs), which are also used for data acquisition.