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Interactive Multimedia: Changing Our Learning Process Essay, Research Paper

Running head: Interactive Multimedia: CHANGING OUR LEARNING PROCESS

Interactive Multimedia: Changing Our Learning Process

Mark A. Cheeks

Wayland Baptist University

Interactive Multimedia (IMM): Changing Our Learning Process

Interactive multimedia has become increasingly more popular in the past decade as an educational tool. How? By making it possible to access illustrations and photograghs, sound and video, as well as large amounts of text, IMM programs present learning information to teachers, students, and scholars in newly engaging and meaningful ways. IMM has paved the way for self-taught learning environments.

This research report will touch upon several different areas; first discussion of the definition of IMM, the IMM origins or beginnings, the “nuts and bolts” of IMM, why we should use IMM, and how multimedia can be incorporated into educational context.

What is hypermedia or IMM? IMM is an all-inclusive term, which describes the new line of software, which evolves around the provision of information. The multimedia component is combination of media, which includes test illustrations, photographs, audio, graphics, image, voice, animation and video. The interactive component involves interactively within the system, which provides the user with some influence over accessing the information. The user is also given control over the outcome of the system.

In most cases the system will present the user with choices and the choice taken by the user will influence the path the system follows. Points of decision in multimedia can be described as crossroads. The user reads a signpost and moves in

and another decision is made. These pathways are limited to the software. The user only has the options of what is available on the system” (Shaheen Akhtar, John Bourne, Keith Claxton 1996)

Now a brief background on the origin of hypermedia, which is better known as interactive multimedia. In 1945, Vannevar Bush, an electrical engineer and science advisor to U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, described a system that he called memex. Memex was “a hypothetical, mechanical device that predated computers and that would use state-of-the-art photographic technology to manipulate, display, and interconnect information on microfiche” (Locatis et al.,1989). Memex would emulate the human mind, but it never got beyond the conceptual stage for lack of adequate technology.

In the early 1960s, Douglas Engelbart adapted Bush’s concept to the computer. His ONLine System provided a means to organize and retrieve text, as well as electronic mail and a teleconferencing facility. At about the same time, Ted Nelson created a literary system called Xanadu that allowed complex derivations of new material from existing text. It could trace the development of ideas by recording linkages and information transfers, and provide royalty payments to the original creators (Locatis et al., 1989). Nelson coined the term hypertext to describe his system. From those humble beginnings came the multi billion dollar IMM market that we know today.

Hopefully now there is a basic understanding of the definition and origin of IMM discussion will now be focused on the nuts and bolts of the present day systems. There are four potential hardware devises associated with an IMM system: compact disc or CD-ROM, laserdiscs, digitizers and sound hardware.

The CD-ROM was introduced in 1985 and because of its durability and information storage capabilities it has virtually surpassed all other data storage tools. One CD-ROM can store about 650MB of data, equivalent to some 270,000 page of text, this is ideal for large databases and because a duplicate disc cost little to produce initial production investments can be recouped quickly from savings on paper copies. CDs are ideal for multimedia, because digital audio and video files are huge (Lockard, Abrams, and Many 1997).

Laserdisc, are similar to a CD, in that a laser reads both. Laser discs are analog and not digital which makes image quality much better. Laserdisc can be found in two distinct formats the first, constant angular velocity (CAV) laserdisc can contain up to 54,000 individual photo-quality images. 54,000 frames provide 30 minutes of motion video at normal playback speed of 30 frames per second. There are usually two or more audio channels associated with laserdisc to provide stereo sound, bilingual or multilingual narration. Many CAV laserdisc contain a mix of single frames and motion segments. Single frames can be viewed as long as needed without loss of picture quality because only a light beam touches the disc.

The makeup of the second format of laserdisc, constant linear velocity (CLV) is similar to that of videotape in organization. CLV runs in streams as oppose to the individual frames in CAV. Data is marked by time codes and segments are still randomly viewable with the use of these time codes. Another distinct difference in CAV and CLV is playing time because of the makeup of CLV the playtime is doubled making it a much more usable vehicle for movies and popular educational multimedia type programs. (Lockard, Peters, and Many 1997)

Digitizing hardware is also a valuable player in the IMM setup. Photo-quality images are critical in hypermedia, they can be produced through several different means i.e. digital scanners, still-image digitizers, and video cameras to name a few. Sound, graphics, video, animation and text can be stored on the hard disk of a computer or on a CD-ROM, and may be transmitted over the Internet.

Sound hardware is another essential part of IMM systems. Sound enhances the program and brings life to what could be a plain run of the mill presentation, research or educational tool. Sound can be used to establish a mood or set the tone for an IMM project.

Why use IMM? It’s been seen that IMM, by definition, has the capacity to deliver large amounts of materials in multiple forms, and to deliver them in an integrated environment that allows users to control the reading and viewing experience. How then do these defining characteristics and virtues translate into benefits in an educational environment?

First of all, multimedia programs bring to education the extraordinary storage and delivery capabilities of computerized material. This is especially important for schools, libraries, and learning institutions where books are difficult to obtain and update. Multimedia is a powerful and efficient source for acquiring learning resources. Multimedia can also provide educational institutions access to other kinds of inaccessible materials, such as hard to find historical films, rare sound recordings of famous speeches, illustrations from difficult to obtain periodicals, and so on. Multimedia can put primary and secondary source materials at the fingertips of users in even the remotest locations from major research facilities.

Secondly, it is not just sheer access to these materials that makes multimedia a powerful tool, but the control over those materials that it gives to its users. IMM programs enable the user to manipulate these materials through a wide variety of powerful linking, sorting, searching and annotating activities. Each of these activities can be made to reinforce and inculcate various intellectual skills, in addition to satisfying certain cognitive needs for quality learning, such as the ability to follow through links at the immediate moment when curiosity is aroused, and the ability to view different forms of the same information side-by-side.

Furthermore, IMM programs usually integrate some combination of orientation tools, such as timelines, graphs, glossaries, and other pedagogical guides. These kinds of tools further point to the third major benefit of multimedia: the personalization or individualization of the learning experience.

By allowing users to control the sequence and the pacing of the materials, multimedia packages facilitate greater individualization in learning, allowing students to proceed at their own pace in a tailored learning environment. Furthermore, interactive multimedia can be a powerful learning and teaching tool because it engages multiple senses. Students using multimedia are reading, seeing, hearing, and actively manipulating materials. As one educator enthusiastically put it, “As humans, we seem hard-wired for multiple input. Consider that we remember only about 10% of what we read; 20%, if we hear it; %30, if we can see visuals related to what we’re hearing; %50, if we watch someone do something while explaining it; but almost 90%, if we do the job ourselves– if only as a simulation. In other words, interactive multimedia–properly developed and properly implemented– could revolutionize education”(Menn, 1993).

IMM can be incorporated into educational context through several means. One way is by building a library-based multimedia resource for teachers. Before even considering the idea of implementing interactive multimedia in the classroom, for students, consider the productive use of multimedia as an efficient and effective resource for teachers. This scenario requires only a single multimedia station, placed in a library or teachers’ resource center, with a core of multimedia programs available.

As a teachers’ resource, a solid multimedia collection can be used in a variety of valuable ways. Most directly, it can be a resource for teachers who are gathering background and contextual material for their courses. With multimedia resources, teachers can efficiently research and design lectures and assignments, as well as generate ideas and texts for clusters of materials. Because of the rich, integrative nature of the best interactive programs, multimedia can also offer teachers provocative resources for curricular design, modeling dynamic ways that knowledge can be constructed and portrayed. This can be a valuable tool both for teachers preparing their classes, as well as teachers in training.

Multimedia can also serve as teachers’ resource by providing a tool for enhancing lecture and classroom presentations.

Secondly a library-based multimedia resource for students can also be established. Of course, the same resource that is being used by teachers for the purposes outlined in the first scenario. But with somewhat different uses. A library-based, interactive multimedia resource complements the other collections in a library. In addition to interactive reference tools, multimedia programs such as electronic texts, as well as general and focused educational packages, can provide valuable enhancements to the library collection. Even before teachers begin incorporating the use of multimedia into classroom contexts, their students can begin using library-based multimedia for research papers and writing assignments, or as tools in preparing for examinations, or even for pleasure and curiosity.

In conclusion, IMM is changing the way we think about and address our educational process. As exciting as these new electronic resources are there are still some drawbacks. The human interaction that is shared between instructors and students and the knowledge gained from other classmates is lost when education gained strictly from IMM. But in a society where information is power, IMM is definitely the way of the future.



Lochard, James. Abrams, Peter D. Many, Wesley (1997) Microcomputers for twenty-twenty-first century educators

A brief guide to interactive multimedia and the study of the United States {Online} (1998) Available: http://www.georgetown.edu/bassr/multimedia.html#4e

Paske, R (1990) “Hypermedia: a brief History and Progress Report.”

Jonassen, David H. and Heinz Mandel, eds (1990) Designing Hypertext/Hypermedia for Learning.

How to produce interactive multimedia, {online} (1998) Available: http://www-hpcc.astro.washington .edu/scied/astro/organize.html

Rathbone, Andy.(1994) Multimedia and CD-ROMS for Dummies San Mateo, Ca IDG Books Worldwide

Menn, Don. PC World 11(Oct 1993) “Multimedia in Education : Arming Our Kids For the Future.”

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