The advent of online learning has created a demand for unique ways to deliver course content above and beyond textual materials.
The emergence of multimedia based Learning Objects (LOs) in the early 2000’s created much debate about the practicability of delivering curriculum through multimedia: a combination of imagery, text, audio, video, and interactivity in an academic realm. Can the depth and rigor of collegiate level subject matter be delivered through media originally designed for entertainment? There are advocates who believe that multimedia is certainly viable as a teaching and learning tool, and there are detractors who believe that learners should read and write in depth. This webpage is designed to advocate and demonstrate the incorporation of multimedia based learning objects (LOs) for use in the online classroom.
The Development Process
The development of multimedia learning objects is a collaborative process similar to the development of an online course. The Faculty or Subject Matter Expert (SME) provides the content for the LO. An Instructional Designer (ID) assists the faculty member in deciding on the focus for the LO. Unless the SME or ID has multimedia development skills, a third party developer produces and deploys the LO. These three entities collaborate in the design, development, and delivery of the finished product.
Focusing the Learning Object
Multimedia can be used to support the learning process in many ways for instance telling a story, explaining a concept, simulating a procedure, demonstrating a process, comparing materials, and/or testing the learner’s knowledge. Any of these approaches may be combined, but keeping the focus narrow helps the learner concentrate on the task at hand. If the content requires a combination of these approaches, it’s best to break the content into smaller segments and developing several LOs concentrated on a single approach. See the following examples.
B. Explaining a Concept
D. How To
E. Knowledge Check
In 2015, TIME magazine published an article titled, “You Now Have a Shorter Attention Span Than a Goldfish.” According to a study from Microsoft Corporation, as humans have become more attached to screens, their attention spans have decreased. Consequently, learners today are less likely to read large blocks of text to obtain and remember information. They are more likely to view a short video or engage in a well-designed interactive presentation to understand complex concepts or theories. Both the detractors and advocates of multimedia based LOs have valid arguments. If ambiguous, LOs may very well exhaust and confuse the learner. If focused, LOs can invigorate and enlighten the learner.
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