Interactive multimedia and learning : realising the benefits
Interactive multimedia has the potential to create high quality learning environments that actively engage the learner. For example it can combine explanation with illustrative examples, on-line assessment with feedback and provide opportunities to practise and experiment. A range of media elements can be used to convey a given message and the learner can study at a time, place and pace convenient to them. However there is growing evidence that the potential of interactive multimedia is not being fulfilled. Early designs were often driven by technology rather than pedagogy, with a focus on the physical interface. This thesis argues that if we are to design effective interactive learning applications then a learner-centred approach to their design and implementation should be taken. Design and development should not focus solely on the application: integration into the curriculum must be planned, and designed for, carefully. Attention should be given to social, or contextual, factors; these strongly affect whether learners actually use applications and learn from them. A series of experimental trials and associated studies into learning with interactive multimedia were carried out in order to explore this further. The results indicate that whilst there is some evidence that the use of interactive multimedia can aid learning, its effect and benefits are not as clear-cut as its proponents suggest. This work demonstrates the importance of considering the wider context when designing for learning with interactive multimedia and informs the integration of multimedia into the curriculum. The result is a curriculum integration framework, which highlights the need to locate the application design in the context of use and advocates user involvement throughout the design and development process. Curriculum integration should be designed for at the outset and evaluated as ongoing activity. Advice is given on how to do this This thesis also explores problems associated with conducting research in real-world learning contexts. A rich description is provided through a reflective analysis of the difficulties encountered with the methodological approach taken here. Alternative approaches are reviewed. Guidance is provided, which practitioners wishing to engage in educational research can use in selecting which method, or methods, to use.