Posted on 5th August, 2016 by Emily Blake
Multimedia is a powerful aid to learning. Moving images, motion graphics and dynamic text in combination with sound effects, narration or dialogue, stimulate viewer’s cognitive processing, emotional and even physical responses.
The cognitive effect of multimedia is derived from what is known as ‘multisensory’ learning. Multisensory learning theory looks at how the brain is stimulated via the Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic senses (VAK). Multisensory learning happens when more than one sense is used to acquire and retain information. With multimedia, the visual and auditory senses are engaged simultaneously in making sense of the content. This creates a powerful emotional context for learning, and when emotions are evoked, memory and recall are enhanced.
What video and multimedia techniques do we use to enhance learning?
Whiteboard illustration: This uses a single camera angle. Concepts are shot ‘in real time’ using a marker pen on whiteboard, and speeded up in line with voiceover narration. The audio explains concepts verbally while the pictures plant visual ‘hooks’ in the learner’s mind, helping them interpret and remember key points.
Papermation: These are brief stories using paper cut-outs, manipulated by a hand under a static camera, accompanied by a voiceover. The stories usually centre on people, encouraging an ‘affective response’ from the viewer. This is a really cost-effective way of harnessing the benefits of narrative, usually reserved for scripted drama.
Interviews: Interviews with subject matter experts or senior figures can provide credibility, anchoring the content in academic or practical experience.
These can be shot in the interviewee’s working environment to create realism, or shot against a plain background allowing for more dynamic, lively and quirky camera moves. They can also be shot against a ‘green screen’, which allows graphics, motion graphics or effects to be combined with live action in post-production.
Vox pops: Vox pops (Latin for ‘voice of the people’) lend realism to an experience. In a sense they are a sub-set of interviews, although typically they are shot in a ‘fly on the wall’ style capturing real-time thoughts, feelings and attitudes in response to a leading question. Vox pops allow viewers to empathise with people like themselves, as they are usually ‘peer to peer’, which makes them particularly effective for induction programmes.
Coaches, tutors or guides: A guide helps you through the learning experience, rather than imparting knowledge and skills. Video or animation-based ‘walk on’ guides may give feedback on overall progress, how well you’ve done and what needs doing next. Research shows that on-screen tutors can improve learning by 24 per cent to 48 per cent.
Documentary video: Documentary is an excellent way of delivering information in an informative and well-recognised way. It uses a combination of interviews, filmed sequences, archive footage and other material to raise awareness about a whole range of subjects, such as the benefits of a new system or process, the history or evolution of an organisation or product, the day-in-the-life of an employee, or the rationale for a change that is being introduced.
Video drama: Drama sequences form the backbone of scenarios or simulations and promote an emotional response prior to making a choice, e.g. how to deal with a confrontational customer. The learner’s chosen course of action determines which video outcome they see. The point-of-view or ‘through the lens’ perspective is particularly powerful for skills transfer, as the learner becomes a participant ‘in the scene’. Drama is also ideal for modelling behaviour, e.g. showing a masterclass in best practice or critiquing poor practice.
Interactive video: Interactive videos are similar to simulations – allowing the viewer to determine what they see. They are distinguished by the mode of interaction – instead of answering a question to determine an outcome, the learner clicks elements within the video itself, be they on-screen graphics, objects or characters. Often more playful than video dramas, they can be created using live action video or illustrated animations.
Motion graphics – kinetic text: Also known as kinetic typography – the technical name for ‘moving text’ – this is an animation technique mixing motion and text. Text is presented over time to convey or evoke a particular idea or emotion.
Infographic animations: Information graphics, or infographics, are visual representations of data that present complex information quickly and clearly. They improve cognition by emphasising visual patterns and trends. These images are often animated to music and/or voiceover.
Moreno et al (2003 and 2004) and Atkinson (2007): Interactive Multimodal Learning Environments
Fleming, Neil D. (2001): VAK/VARK Learning Models
Shackleton-Jones, N (2010): Towards a Working Theory of Learning: The Affective Context Model
Mayer and Clark (2011): e-Learning and the Science of Instruction