10 Design Principles Of Using Multimedia In eLearning

The Fundamentals Of Using Multimedia In eLearning: 10 Thumb Rules To Follow

eLearning is being extensively utilized by harnessing technology to provide learners the opportunity to learn anytime and anywhere. eLearning can include a variety of learning opportunities – self-paced training, just-in-time information, as well as guidance from experts. With the help of technology, eLearning deliveries readily accessible digital content and creates a learner-oriented environment. eLearning promotes the notion of life-long learning and growth of a learning society – in educational institutes as well as organizations.

It is important to understand that since eLearning is different from traditional classroom or instructor-led training, learning materials that have been effectively designed for the electronic medium will facilitate the achievement of desired learning outcomes for learners. Effective design of eLearning materials relies on appropriate Instructional Design processes. The change in learning context from classroom to an online medium is an important factor when creating eLearning material. Multimedia are well adjusted to online learning and with the development of technology there are many elements to choose from and infuse in learning to create suitable impact and increase the appeal of the learning content among all learners. With the plethora of options available, what to choose and how to present it is often a dilemma for many eLearning developers.

In his book Multimedia Learning, Richard E. Mayer discusses principles that shape the design and organization of multimedia presentations. These principles for using multimedia in eLearning hold true when creating effective eLearning content as well and can serve as a well-suited guide for many developers who face the challenge of infusing multimedia in eLearning.

1. Coherence Principle.

This principle states that learners learn better when extraneous words, pictures, and sounds are excluded rather than included. In other words, when creating multimedia for eLearning, less is more. Choose carefully what is needed and refuse elements that just create clutter but do not contribute to learning. Not only the visual appeal of the content will increase, the learner will be able to concentrate on few elements that are needed and not get distracted with unnecessary elements.

2. Signaling Principle.

This principle encourages developers to organize the learning content well. Simpler concepts should precede complex ones, to make sure learners are not overwhelmed. Important parts of the learning content should be suitably highlighted with summarizing or other instructional strategies. This helps process the information better and remember essential parts of the learning content.

3. Redundancy Principle.

When creating multimedia elements in an eLearning course, it is important to remember that learners prefer not more than 2-3 multimedia elements at one go. So it is better to include graphics and narration or animation and narration than an onslaught of all available elements - on-screen text, graphics, animation, as well as narration. Here too, the principle of ‘less is more’ applies and can be utilized for effective eLearning content creation.

4. Multimedia Principle.

This is a well-known principle that learners prefer to learn better from words and pictures than from words alone. The inclusion of graphics in eLearning is thus very important. It is an easily available option as well as a budget-friendly one. Readily available generic images can be utilized as well as content-specific images like graphs or screenshots – the choice is wide and varied.

5. Spatial Contiguity Principle.

This principle shares that learners prefer it when corresponding words and pictures are presented near rather than far from each other on the screen. This simple alignment can effectively increase the impact of learning, by making sure that the words explaining a concept and the accompanying images are not far away. Learners can then understand them both together and proceed to fully understanding the entire concept.

6. Temporal Contiguity Principle.

To continue on the same vein, this principle shares that learners prefer it when corresponding words and pictures are presented simultaneously rather than successively. This is also an easy step to follow and make certain that learners understand the concept as a whole better with words as well as images appearing on the screen in the most impactful manner.

7. Segmenting Principle.

It is important to note that eLearning is mostly self-paced. The learner proceeds to learn at his or her own pace and this is the basis of the principle that learners learn better from a multimedia-infused lesson when it is presented in user-paced segments rather than as a continuous unit. Suitable breaks in between the flow of information is necessary  to make sure that the learner takes some time to process what he or she is reading and understands it well. A well-paced eLearning course will definitely be the most effective one.

8. Pre-Training Principle.

The benefits of creating pre-training opportunities benefits all types of training – including eLearning. This principle states that learners benefit best from a multimedia lesson when they know the names and characteristics of the main concepts. So if you are introducing new concepts, names, and titles of essential topics can be shared on the first few screens to make sure that learners feel comfortable with the idea of going ahead with that knowledge.

9. Personalization Principle.

Audio is often a worthy accompaniment to all eLearning courses. The principle states that it is better to include audio in conversational style rather than formal style. Not only does this put the learner at ease, it increases their attention as well – when learning is informal and not forced.

10. Voice Principle.

Also, when creating audio, it is best to follow the principle that learners prefer narration in a friendly human voice rather than a machine voice. So even if machine generated narration is available and is the cheaper option, it is better to create a voice-over narration to make sure that learners remain engaged and are suitably inspired to listen and learn.

Final Word

With increasing reach of internet and mobile devices, using multimedia in eLearning is increasingly becoming a popular and preferred method for learning across corporates as well as educational institutes. Following these design principles, a variety of multimedia elements can be infused into eLearning, with better results.

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