Hands-on experience on component selection, BoM, Schematics design
This paper describes the development and evaluation of a multimedia simulation for teaching research skills to business students. The article quotes from other sources, stating that traditional school and university learning is in danger of becoming isolated from mainstream real-world activity and performance. The challenge, state the authors, is for educators to align formal learning more substantially with the way learning is achieved in real-life settings, and to base instructional materials design on more recent theories of learning that reflect this shift. They postulate that one method which has the potential to achieve this is the theory of situated cognition or situated learning.
This involves creating microworlds that recreate the realism of the macroworld. I quote “Multimedia designers need to provide only enough clues to enable imagination, not technology, to create ‘realism’.” I understand this to be that the creation of partial clues can be seen as sampling reality and creating a microworld out of these samples.
The Acumen application is provided as an example of how a microworld application can be or should be created. This software is modelled on the experience of a student employed as an apprentice in a summer job. There are no instructions for using the program, and the users navigate around the program by clicking on images of people or objects. One can see the benefits of this program, in that a task can accurately model real life objects and behaviour, without the abstraction and secondary or representative reality found in standard user interfaces. This rethink and redesign of the traditional user interface is required to enable multimedia simulation that has a larger transfer capacity. Though the concept is an excellent one, the question arises as to what level of fidelity should the microworld mirror the macroworld. The issue is primarily budgetary, building very close resemblance between the micro and macroworlds has a high cost factor attached.
In summary, this is a well written, well researched article that transfers complex ideas with easily understood text and graphics, and presents a sound argument for modelling simulations that bring the practice of textbook principles into the classroom.
Standen, P., & Herrington, J. (1997). Acumen: An interactive multimedia simulation based on situated learning theory.
In his work, Najjar attempts to describe empirically based principles that multimedia user interface designers can use to better the learning outcomes from educational multimedia applications. He sets out to redress shortcomings in multimedia user interface design guidelines by basing them on empirical research rather than on the opinions of experts. He researches a number of factors that influence learning outcomes in multimedia applications, and lists the findings.
This is quite a novel approach, especially in multimedia, where very little research as been conducted into how the message encapsulated in the media is received, perceived, and acted upon by the audience.
Najjar concludes, “Designers should use closely related verbal and pictorial information together, and build in tasks that encourage users to elaborateively process the information”. Illustrations and other media should support the accompanying text, and illustrations should not be used just for the sake of including a graphic. The choice of medium to suit the message is also important, as the effectiveness of media is quite application-specific. Najjar also advocates that the user interface be made intuitive, as the user interface has a significant positive effect when learning from multimedia. His conclusions not only ring true when viewed from a logical point of view, but are also backed up by the findings of well-known researchers in the field. These findings can be applied by multimedia designers to improve the quality and effectiveness of their products.
Although he adds the caveat that these principles should be used with caution as they are largely untested, the principles set out in his work appear to be able to withstand the rigors of being tested in actual use.
Najjar, L. J. (1998). Principles of educational multimedia user interface design. Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, 40(2), 311-323.
Marc Davis is a media futurologist who paints a convincing picture of the convergence of motion pictures and computation in the future. Davis believes that in the next 50 years, computational motion pictures will bring a fundamental change in the possibilities of written language and communication, and that the full potential of computation has not yet affected our thinking about media. He is of the opinion that profound technological, linguistic, and social effects are imminent over the next half century.
The linguistic area where the most changes will occur, according to Davis, is in semasiography, or visual writing, where computers can aid in the transmission of ideas through pictures. He foresees the ascendance of semasiographical writing over the glottographic form of expression, or written language as it is prevalent today. This idea is already being realised in the proliferation of visual images and iconography in visual media. The immense popularity of video sharing sites such as Youtube might signify that the visual language is gaining strength as a form of expression. How far this will go remains to be seen, and if Davis’s predictions of humans using technology to communicate using pictures and mental imagery are realised, then the very basic foundation of human communication will change in the future, as we evolve away from the traditional glottographic language systems. Admittedly, the central challenge for computational media technology is to develop a language that both humans and computers can read and write. This can be quite a difficult problem, but not insurmountable.
Garage cinema can be likened to those videos to be found on video sharing sites. These home made videos are sometimes of surprisingly amazing quality and content. The rise of Garage cinema, according to the author, is the forerunner to this change, although many technological, social and legal changes have to occur before garage cinema becomes common practice. Sweeping statements and predictions such as these, especially in connection with computer technology, often have a way of being proven untrue or only partly true. This might be because the experts cannot fully predict the exponential patterns of technological evolution, or foresee the many twists and turns of changing reality in the distant future. Given the span of his predictions, whether Davis is spot on the mark, or bowling a wide ball, can only be analysed in half a century from now.
Davis, M. (1997). Garage cinema and the future of media technology. Communications of the ACM, 40(2), 42-48.
In her analysis, Brown asserts that regardless of how much he or she (the instructional designer, or ID) actually participates in the production process, the instructional designer must have some working knowledge of media production to work effectively. Any course of study in ID must at some point address learning media production.
From my professional experience, I would say that knowledge of the media production process would make instructional designers more aware of the process involved in creating the learning systems. Comparing those IDs that understand the production process to those who don’t, the ones who understand media production are more able to factor the production process into their design, and are more able to leverage the capabilities offered by the media. Say for example, an ID producing a set of instructions for classroom delivery, might be more effective if he or she understood slide show (PowerPoint) and movie media production. Having an understanding of these media production processes, they could design the instruction to fit more closely to the method of delivery. The instructional package for a movie presentation for example, would be much more effective if it were designed specifically for the movie, instead of being an instructional package with no particular planned mode of delivery. The ideal scenario is for all IDs to have good media production skills, and to take part in the production process, at least in the capacity of knowledgeable partners, being able to offer input and be actively involved.
A study was conducted by Brown, in which data was collected from the students and instructors from interview transcripts, participant-observer journal entries, and case studies of selected students. The study aimed to discover the changes, if any, in the attitude of IDs who took up media studies.
This study comes to the conclusion that “Without exception, every student interviewed or observed in action during the course of the semester did indeed change his or her attitude toward the production process to some extent; and that change was one that would be considered positive in terms of the instructors’ originally articulated goals. Every student observed or interviewed demonstrated a change through word or deed.”
This is very positive and desirable outcome for the course, and shows that instruction designers who are given insider knowledge into the media production will become more attuned to the requirements and challenges inherent in media production. This sort of rounded education can only go to improve the work of IDs.
Brown, Abbie. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia , Vol. 13, No. 3 , Fall 2004
In this work, Mayer and Moreno ask the question, how can we avoid a trail of broken promises concerning the educational benefits of new educational technologies such as multimedia learning environments? In answering this question, they suggest a solution is to use instructional technology in ways that are grounded in research-based theory. They provide a research-based review of five principles of multimedia design. The argument has its strengths since empirical theory can give reliable conclusions if the experiments have been performed correctly. On this basis, one can accept the veracity of Mayer and Moreno’s arguments.
By studying the cognitive aspect of multimedia, they identify three main cognitive processes, selecting, organizing and integrating. This model based on the work of Mayer (1999), and five major principles have been derived by experimentation, based on this model.
1. The Multiple Representation Principle. It is better to present an explanation using two modes of representation rather than one.
2. Contiguity Principle. When giving a multimedia explanation, present corresponding words and pictures contiguously rather than separately.
3. Split-Attention Principle: When giving a multimedia explanation, present words as auditory narration rather than as visual on-screen text.
4. Individual Differences Principle: The foregoing principles are more important for low knowledge than high-knowledge learners, and for high-spatial rather than low-spatial learners.
5. Coherence Principle: When giving a multimedia explanation, use few rather than many extraneous words and pictures.
The work presents a very strong argument in favor of applying these principles when using multimedia for teaching, especially scientific subjects. It is based on the findings of major researchers in multimedia cognition, and so attains greater credibility by association.
The style is succinct, and the content is well organized, which enables the article to deliver the message authoritatively.
Mayer, R. E., & Moreno, R. (1998). A cognitive theory of multimedia learning: Implications for design principles. Journal of Educational Psychology, 91(2), 358-368.