Aids to Computer-Based Multimedia Learning (Mayer & Moreno)

So I started out all excited about this reading, and then quickly realised it was a little bit ‘not exactly rocket science’ territory. Having said that, it’s sometimes nice to see some robust research (ignoring sample size concerns) that reinforce a model which I probably would have accepted at face value.

In essence, Mayer and Moreno provide a five-point plan for building audiovisual explanations to teach concepts (for example, consider the awesome recent YouTube clip explaining the credit crisis). By drawing on some pretty straightforward cognitive psychology (mainly around the issue of ‘cognitive load’) they posit and then find supporting data for the claims that…

  • you should use present the explanation using both words and pictures (multiple representation principle)
  • you should present the words and pictures at the same time (coherence principle)
  • you should not include extraneous material as it uses up cognitive processing bandwidth (coherence principle)
  • you should present words as auditory rather than written, otherwise they use up visual processing bandwidth (modality principle)
  • you should not supplement the auditory narration with written text for the same reason (redundancy principle)

So, fairly obvious if you were thinking about it from a cognitive load point of view, but a couple of counterintuitive ones in there if you are approaching it from a ‘more is better’ or ‘add some interesting bells and whistles’ point of view.

Obviously, I’m really curious about taking this type of research-based approach into more interactive, and technologically recent types of environments. Perhaps more of that in the weeks to come. One of our assignments is to develop a multimedia piece, drawing on these guidelines. Given that the aim of the assignment is for us to build skills, I am tempted to look at creating an explanation using augmented reality and 3D modelling. Just for fun 😉

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