One of the challenges of elearning is the perceived lack of engagement with the student. People sometimes misunderstand this new method of teaching; they think it’s boring and dull. It certainly can be boring; but then again, don’t students get bored in the classroom, as well?
If the teacher, professor or trainer has the personality of a robot, you can expect the class to start snoring within the first 5 minutes. A teacher with a vibrant personality on the other hand, can engage the students and hold their attention for a longer time. Engaging the class or student does not necessarily depend on the pedagogical approach; rather, it depends on creative delivery of the lesson content.
There are existing online learning software and learning management system software in the market especially the early ones where the interface is mediocre and the content is mainly text-based. The end user is merely required to read and answer quizzes at the end of each chapter. It’s not surprising that online learners quit after just a few chapters and they rarely finish the course.
Current trends in electronic learning now include the integration of multimedia. Multimedia used to mean simple audio, video and graphics. Now it includes interactive animations, hypermedia, speech narration, motion graphics, etc. With the improvement of technologies like 3D graphics and video, developers and designers of technologically-enhanced learning are seeking various ways of applying these new innovations to further enhance their software products.
Advantages of Multimedia
Accessibility. Interactive interface is an important part of the learning content. The disabled members of society is now benefiting from distance learning so innovations in multimedia like Text to Speech, Video Conferencing, Touch Screen Interface, etc are helping make online learning more accessible.
Navigation throughout the course is easier for the learner when there are clear graphics to follow, like buttons, links, site maps, navigation tree, etc.
Easy Recall and Retention. In past studies, it was found it’s easier for people to recall information if it is delivered with music. Using audio as well as visual delivery, students are more likely to remember the lesson than just by reading plain text.
Easy Comprehension. A concept can be easier understood if there’s a video demonstration or animation that explains it. The student would also have a deeper understanding of the lesson because more parts of the brain are stimulated.
Engaging. Active participation promotes learning more effectively than passively reading chapters. Interactive quizzes and games make the course more engaging and students will be less likely to get bored.
With all the advantages stated, it would be easy to conclude that multimedia should be a vital part of every electronic learning software or learning management system software; but the truth is, there are concerns when implementing too much multimedia. It is better to have a simple text based course than to have a course with multiple and confusing media.
The developers and designers should edit the content of the course so that the interface is uniform and coherent. Adding media adds complexity to what the student see on the screen. The software should be tested multiple times to ensure that learners know where they are and know how they are progressing in the curriculum. Customizing the media is also necessary for people with disabilities and unique needs.
Multimedia is a great tool to use for electronic learning but the developers have to make sure that the right media is used for the right user. Each element should serve the course progressively and be appropriate for the course in general.