If you are considering using multimedia in your eLearning, it is important to understand the principles behind multimedia use. As with any aspect of instructional design, there are a number of factors that need to be considered before deciding whether or not to use multimedia.
In this article we will take a look at six factors that you should consider when deciding whether or not to use multimedia in your eLearning. These factors include:
1. The Learning Objective
Before adding any multimedia to your eLearning course, you should have a clear understanding of the learning objective. Without this, you will have no way of knowing if the multimedia is actually supporting the learning objective or if it is simply a distraction.
There are several ways to determine the learning objective for your course:
- Write it down
- Get feedback from stakeholders
- Discuss with subject matter experts
- Define the target audience
One way that we like to define our learning objectives is by using Bloom’s Taxonomy.
2. The Learners
One of the most important factors to consider when deciding whether or not to use multimedia in your eLearning is the learner. A large number of multimedia formats are available, but some are more appropriate for certain types of learners than others.
For example, if you are creating an eLearning course for teenagers, a video game might be a good choice. However, if you are creating an eLearning course for executives, a video game might not be appropriate.
You should have a clear understanding of the learning styles and preferences of your learners before choosing which multimedia format to use. If you don’t know the learning styles and preferences of your learners, there are several tools that can help you discover this information such as:
- Kolb’s Learning Style Inventory
- VARK Questionnaire
- Fogg Behavioral Model
The VARK Questionnaire and Fogg Behavioral Model can also help you determine which media will be most effective at engaging your learners in your eLearning course.
3. The Message
Another factor that should be considered when deciding whether or not to use multimedia in your eLearning is the message that you want to convey to your learners. There are several ways that media can be used to convey a message:
- Provide an example
- Create an emotional response
- Engage the learner
4. The Content
The content of your eLearning course should also be considered when deciding whether or not to use multimedia in your eLearning. For example, if you are creating an eLearning course about a new software application, a video demonstration might be appropriate.
However, if you are creating an eLearning course about how to conduct business meetings, a video demonstration might not be appropriate. The same principle applies to the message and the learners as discussed above.
If you don’t know what type of content will be included in your eLearning course, there are several ways that you can determine this information:
- Conduct focus groups with stakeholders
- Conduct research with subject matter experts
- Define the target audience
Another factor that should be considered when deciding whether or not to use multimedia in your eLearning is the amount of time that you have to create the course. The more time that you have, the more media you can include in your eLearning course.
If you don’t have a lot of time to create your eLearning course, consider using a shorter format such as an animated graphic or audio file.
There is no doubt that multimedia can make your eLearning courses more engaging and effective. However, using multimedia in your eLearning courses is not always appropriate and it does come at a cost in terms of time and money (both for development and maintenance).
The factors discussed above should help you determine whether or not to use multimedia in your next eLearning course.