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Week 2- Multimedia Learning Theory

Week 2- Multimedia Learning Theory

Consider media that you have used for teaching in the past. How does the model of multimedia learning described on p. 388 and in Fig. 31.3 and Table 31.1 relate to your use of media? If you think about new online experiences that might be used for learning, are they represented in this model?

As a social studies teacher I used to enjoy including John Green’s Crash Course History videos into my lessons. I thought they would be engaging for students, and that this might spark interest in the topic, and hopefully bring about deeper learning. What I found was that while students often enjoyed the videos, there wasn’t a lot of additional learning that I could point to after students had watched them, and I haven’t really been able to point to why.

Mayer’s ideas about how learners interact with multimedia – expressed in Fig. 31.3 and Table 31.1 – point to some reasons why they might not be as useful as I have thought. Each of the crash course videos presents information very quickly, requiring students to do a lot of quick processing in their sensory memory, and a lot of organizing in their working memory. On top of that, the videos often include violations of the principle of coherence (Halpern et al., 2007; Mayer, 2005), with graphics displaying extraneous puns, plays on words, and other clever jokes that while hilarious, perhaps distract from the information that is most important. For a student who is approaching the topic for the first time, or who might not already be an expert in the topic, trying to sort out the important information from the less important is a difficult task that they must perform very quickly, because the videos move at a rapid clip from one topic to another. Some of the student’s effort then is spent on extraneous processing, instead of the selecting and organizing of information essential to processing the topic. On top of that the speed at which they move leaves little time for the integration with past knowledge that is needed for students to gain a true understanding. So while I am interesting in having students engaged in generative processing, sometimes the speed with which the information is presented allows for little “making sense” of the presented material.

Describe one adjustment you could make to manage essential processing in a media-supported lesson you have taught or studied. (See pp. 393–394.)

One of the easiest adjustments I can make in helping to manage essential processing when using slideshows or video to support my teaching will be to really look at the principle of modality as described on page 393 of Mayer’s chapter on Multimedia instruction. I often use graphics on a slideshow, or as part of a video I create, and at times will accompany these with printed text, or both printed text and my narration. Mayer suggests that his research shows students perform better in remembering information “when words in a multimedia lesson are spoken (as narrated graphics, for example) rather than printed on the screen (as captioned graphics),” (Mayer, 2014, pg 393). It is easy enough for me to remove the printed text, and instead use just my voice to describe the animation or graphic. One thing that was interesting about this though is that later in the chapter, Mayer talks about the benefits of employing the multimedia principle of using both graphics and words such as printed text to support and foster generative processing. For me, this suggests that during a lesson, I might first start by removing any text from a graphic, and presenting that graphic to students with an accompanying narration, in order to support essential processing. Later though, I might return student attention to the same graphic, but this time accompany the graphic with text. 

You want to convert your PowerPoint presentation into a video to be distributed online. Describe how you might use Mayer’s principles for fostering generative processing to improve it. (See pp. 394–395.)

One of the ways that I will support generative processing in my videos is by using the personalization principle. Using an informal conversational style, as if I am speaking directly to my viewer, and by trying to build a sense of us working together to understand the material. I have found that students having a relationship with their teacher prior to watching an instructional video can be really helpful in making that video meaningful, and after reading Mayers’ thoughts on encouraging generative processing, I can see the benefits of trying to establish a sense of relationship with the viewers of the video, in order to encourage a feeling of social partnership between the viewer and myself as the creator of the video.

One comment

  1. Hi Paul,

    I think that deep learning from a video requires the student to have a purposeful approach to reviewing the material (probably repeatedly) until they have managed to incorporate a clear and somewhat complete narrative. This is only going to happen with self-motivated students. Regardless, without opportunities to apply this knowledge, transfer and longer-term memory are much less likely.

    I remember using the Canada: A People’s History video series when I was teaching social studies. Even though I kept the segments to about 8-12 minutes I doubt they were effective on their own. I did use worksheets with the videos that probably helped somehwat.

    When combining narrative with graphics voice narrative does work better than text, but text and graphics can still be effective as well. I think these days you need to have a learner-controlled option for the text alternative. This can be particularly important for longer passages or those that can include words or phrases that are difficult to hear or understand.

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