Digital Media in Education

research in new media learning environments

in Multimedia Learning

In this book Richard E. Mayer presents his cognitive theory of multimedia learning defending the thesis that people learn better from words and pictures than from words alone. For this, he sets twelve principles that are developed in the light of several experimental comparisons using two groups of students and two different media solutions for each group.

He follows a learner-centered approach rather than a technology-centered approach and aims for more than rote learning promoting not only retention test but also transfer tests where the learner has to show understanding of what is presented.

He develops part of his theory  based on A. Pavio and A. D. Baddeley‘s previous work that present the human mind as split in long-term memory and working memory. Working memory has two channels for processing information (one verbal and another pictorial), and also that this channels are limited as to the amount of information that can be processed. For learning to occur there should be a change in long-term memory as new information is connected and integrated with prior knowledge. He calls active processing to this organization in coherent mental representations that are considered the bases for meaningful learning.

One of the  principles presented is particularly relevant for this project as it refers to the minimum length of the learning resources to be presented to students as a hole. The principle is called Segmenting and it postulates that “people learn better when a multimedia message is presented in user-paced segments rather than as a continuous unit”. One of the main examples that backup this theory is the advantage of presenting a two and a half minutes animation on lightning formation in a sixteen segments interactive unit, rather than a continuous movie. As the reported experiments seem to prove, letting the user control the pace of the information flow is important to present overload of the working memory available for processing the new information.

Mayer, R. E. (2009). Multimedia Learning (2nd ed.). Cambridge University Press

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