Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ Use of Multimedia in Educational Publications

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Oct 25, 1998

Posted to WWWDEV 26 October 98

Multimedia simply offers a way to present information in a digital format as opposed to a non-digital format. There is really no difference between it and any other type of instruction. For that reason you should use the same rules for selecting media to present content for multimedia as you would for instructor-led. Here are two reference books that I've used in my graduate studies that you might find useful.

As McLuhan would say, instructor-led classes are 'hot' media, while typical multimedia are 'cool' media. Students (especially those raised with television) are much more likely to shift into the role of passive receivers when presented with multimedia than they are when confronted with a person. Hence, multimedia must be proportionally more engaging than similar instructor-led presentations.

To see how this is so, compare the manner in which a student would view Kenneth Clark's lectures on civilization, and how they would view an airing of the television series featuring his lectures, "Civilisation". Because of the inherent interactive potential in a live lecture, students are more likely to pay attention and to be engaged in the material. The television show, by contrast, by its nature precludes this level of personal interaction, and hence, students are less likely to become engaged in the material.

As an aside: I choose this example because the television series is essentially an airing of Clark's lectures with slides. In other words, he made the same media selection for broadcast as he did for his in person lectures. His television series was very slow viewing; he should have used *different* media selection criteria, with an eye to drawing in and engaging the viewer.

Therefore, you should *not* use the same rules for selecting media to present content for multimedia as you would for instructor-led delivery.

Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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