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Week 2: Explore Research on Multimedia

Exploring Research on Multimedia

The multimedia linked to this page will take a minute or two to load before working properly. I uploaded these files to a server rather than a video sharing site to retain user control over the pace of the presentations.

Implications of Limited Capacity

  • Capacity to take in information is limited
  • Extraneous, essential, and generative processing combine to create a cognitive load
  • Too much extraneous information unrelated to learning goals interferes with essential and generative processing.
  • Too much essential information (too much or too complex to easily process) can interfere with generative or deep processing
  • Learners sometimes do not process the information more deeply with generative processing
  • Learning can be improved by:
    • Reducing extraneous processing
    • Managing essential processing
    • Fostering generative processing


Limited Capapcity (Improved for Safari Mac or Windows)

Limited Capacity Presentation




Reducing Extraneous Processing

  • Coherence: Learners perform better when extranous material is excluded
    • Excluding interesting but irrelevant images and words
    • Excluding interesting but irrelevant sounds and music
    • Excluding unneeded symbols and words
  • Signaling: Learners perform better when cues show the structure of the lesson and highlight what is important
  • Redundancy: Learners perform better with graphics and narration than graphics, narration, and printed text
  • Spatial contiguity: Learners perform better when relevant text is near the corresponding image
  • Temporal contiguity: Learners perform better when words are presented with the image simultaneously


Reduce Extraneous Processing





Managing Essential Processing

  • Segmenting: Learners perform better when information is broken up into parts
    • Complex information is best broken up into parts
    • Learners perform better when they control the pace
  • Pretraining: People learn more deeply when they know key definitions and concepts before hand
  • Modality: Learners perform better when images are presented along with the spoken word rather than printed text


Managing Essential Processing Presentation





Fostering Generative Processing

  • Multimedia: Learners perform better when presented with words and pictures than when presented with words alone
  • Personalization: Learners perform better when when words are conversational rather than formal
  • Voice: Learners perform better when information is presented by a friendly human voice than a computer generated voice


Foster Generative Processing Presentation


Foster Generative Processing (P2PU Server)



Nine Ways to Reduce Cognitive Load in Multimedia Learning

For Whom is a Picture Worth a Thousand Words…

Five Ways to Reduce PowerPoint Overload


Those who are interested in more detailed information might be interested in research in multimedia learning may want to read Multimedia Learning by Richard E. Mayer.

A lot of information about improving multimedia to enhance learning has been discussed in this task. Some ideas may seem obvious and some may be counterintuitive. What ideas do you find most important? What surprised you? Is there anything that you disagree with? Is there anything that needs further clarificaion?

Task Discussion

  • Christina Paulk   Nov. 11, 2011, 9:59 a.m.

    Will we be able to access your videos after the course?  I feel like I need to go through them again just to 'wrap my brain' around the information.  My teaching partner and I that have been taking your course have been talking about our teacher created content and feel like we have a long way to go.  We know what we want to include content wise, but then there are so many facets of research that you have presented that we need to incorporate into our multimedia projects.  It is quite a bit to absorb.  We really have loved this course.  I think I need another one!

  • karen   Nov. 11, 2011, 10:24 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Christina Paulk   Nov. 11, 2011, 9:59 a.m.

    Everything on P2PU is available indefinitely. You can even "clone" any couse and make your own. We are hoping htat some people who have taken a course in this round might like to facilitate a future section of it.

    Because the content on P2PU is open licensed, you can even download it and put it in your own web site or do whatever you want with it. (Just site the source.)

    I agree that this has been a rich course. I've learned a lot and think it will change how I'll do things in the future.

  • Steve O'Connor   Nov. 11, 2011, 2:37 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Christina Paulk   Nov. 11, 2011, 9:59 a.m.

    After I rerecord the sound, I am likely to post them elsewhere as well. The videos are open licenced even though I neglected to append the CC-BY logo (I'll add that when I rework them as well). They aren't going away!

    It is a lot of information condensed down to a series of very brief videos. I was hoping to provide access to research that many busy teachers don't have time to read. I'm glad you got something out of it!

  • karen   Oct. 26, 2011, 6:20 p.m.

    This was a lot of very interesting content! It's made me really rethink how I do multimedia.

    The information on coherence and especially on interesting but irrelevant music and sounds seems obvious now, but is not something I generally do. I often put in soft background music, because it sounds more "professional." Not necessarily effective though, I see now.

    The information on segmenting and signaling is something I usually pay attention to and think is very important.

    The modality information makes sense, but does it not depend on the preferred learning modality of the learner? I, for example, do not cope well with audio input. I cannot focus on audio books or even podcasts. For me, I think that words and images work better even though it is all through the same channel.

    The generative underutilization content was fascinating. The personization principle is always something I have found to be the case myself but I didn't know the research behind it. At a higher level, I've been thinking about the personalization aspect of social learning in the context of P2PU. I need to do more reading and thinking about this.

    I do a lot of work with differentiating instruction. We always talk about "chunking" information and giving ample opportunity for practice. Now I know more of the cognitive research behind these ideas. :)

    Question on your presentations here...I like the "click to advance" feature, but is it possible to export from Keynote with a standard rewind/fast forward controller? Or maybe it's just my plug-in that doesn't have this? (Note: I'm NOT suggesting redoing any of these. :) I'm really more curious from the standpoint of studying multimedia in this course and thinking about my own use of different tools.:)

    Thanks for putting this all together. It is very useful.

  • Steve O'Connor   Oct. 28, 2011, 6:24 p.m.
    In Reply To:   karen   Oct. 26, 2011, 6:20 p.m.

    Interesting comment on preferred modality of the learner. I have some material on this, but I have not fully explored the research on it. In For Whom is a Picture Worh a Thousand Words? He comes up with these conclusions:

    • Learners with a lot of prior knowledge benefit less from visual aids.
    • Learners with less prior knowledge benefit more from pictures presented with words
    • Learners with high spatial ability benefit more from pictures with words

    More interesting is Three facets of Visual and Verbal Learners: Cognitive Ability, Cognitive Style and Learning Preference

    Revising the Visualizer-Verbalizer Dimension:Evidence for Two Types of Visualizer discusses different kinds of visual learners.

    I tend to believe that well designed multimedia should work with a wide variety of learners. Applying Mayer's principles will generally benefit all, but some more than others.

    I was struck by the research supporting the Personalization Principle. It was based on studies of learner response to individual learners responding to multimedia in isolation. I've always believed that learning was social. The implications for the classroom are important.

    As you know, I've been experimenting with output from Keynote. I'm not satisfied. I think it's time to move to iMovie--another thing to learn!

  • karen   Oct. 29, 2011, 4:20 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Steve O'Connor   Oct. 28, 2011, 6:24 p.m.

    This makes me think of the work I do in diferentiating instruction. Every learner is different.

    Some varied version of multimedia geared to different learning styles and preferences would seem very useful. I've done a little of this with some mobile content (ebooks and in one case, movies), but would like to explore more.

  • Christina Paulk   Oct. 24, 2011, 6:39 a.m.

    I am not able to hear the sound in the video links for week #2.  I was able to hear the YouTube video for the Khan Academy link.  I'm not sure what the problem might be...can you check on it?  Thanks so much!

  • Steve O'Connor   Oct. 24, 2011, 9:24 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Christina Paulk   Oct. 24, 2011, 6:39 a.m.

    I checked them out. Everything works here. They are QuickTime videos, so you will need a QuickTime Plugin. Were you able to hear the video from Week 1? 

    I think Karen was able to hear them on her Windows machine. 

  • karen   Oct. 24, 2011, 11:39 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Christina Paulk   Oct. 24, 2011, 6:39 a.m.

    It's working ok for me here. Are you clicking to advance?