I am going to have a series of posts on multimedia teaching principles. I am pursuing a master degree in instructional design and educational technology and as I am learning about instructional design I am realizing how poorly I have designed much of my teaching materials. Furthermore, violations of the principles I will discuss in this series is very common in medical education. Its not the fault of the instructors as they haven’t been taught these principles. For some reason in medicine we assume doctors and PhDs know how to teach.
The point of this series will be to present multimedia design concepts that have been proven in the educational literature to improve learning based on tests of retention (do you remember the content based on simple recall) and transfer (can you apply the information to solve a closely related problem).
We all teach using multimedia materials. If you put words (spoken or written) and images together in a presentation that is a multimedia presentation. So this series will be applicable to all teachers.
This first post will set the stage for future posts. The theory upon which all other posts will be based is the Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning by Richard Mayer.
The main components of this theory are as follows:
- Dual channels: there are 2 pathways to process information: auditory and visual ( designated in blue and green, respectively)
- There is limited capacity of each pathway to process information
- Active processing occurs in each pathway
When words or images are presented to us we first have to determine which words or images are important (or which portions of them are important). After we select words, images, or sounds that are meaningful, we organize them in our working, active memory into verbal and/or pictorial models. We then actively integrate these models with activated prior knowledge to create new knowledge (learning).
Multimedia presentations should be designed to facilitate this process. During the remainder of this series I will present evidence-based ways to do this. I will delve further into the Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning when I discuss how this process is affected by each of the design principles.