Skip main navigation

Using multimedia for complex subjects

Reflect on the importance of offering multimedia learning materials within elearning environments
PETER RAINGER: Peter Rainger, Lead Instructional Designer. In the work that I do designing online courses, the use of multimedia materials is both advantageous for engaging and relating to all students, but also provides, say, a rich variety of resources and mediums which all students with different strengths and different characteristics can respond to. And therefore, it gives them the option to learn by different mediums. And it gives them different ways in which they can engage. Different students get different things from different content. So multimedia is one of the key uses of inclusive materials within a curriculum. I was involved in some work in the development of virtual laboratories– a traditional, practical environment.
And to support that, I developed a range of online learning activities which engaged students in scenarios and activities which emulated the laboratory environment. This was useful for all students because it gave them an opportunity to practise in a safe space. But students with additional needs also found this particularly useful, because it allowed them to revisit the topics, and engage in the concept in a meaningful, supported way. And it allowed them to practise and go wrong. And share and collaborate with other students that they might not have been able to do in the real, practical environment.
“Technologies are merely tools that can be used in a variety of ways. What matters more is how technologies are applied. The same technology can be applied in different ways, even or especially in education.” Bates (2015)
In this video, Peter Rainger talks about the positive aspects of using multimedia and goes on to describe the way he has used a virtual lab. Researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have gone one stage further developing ‘an imaging technique called Interactive Dynamic Video (IDV) that lets you reach in and ‘touch’ objects in videos.’
There have been discussions by companies such as Google about accessible Virtual and Augmentative Reality. The link takes you to a 35 minute YouTube video with captions and a transcript. The presenters discuss some of the accessibility issues, ask the audience to try things and provide suggestions for developers that have the potential to make this type of multimedia more inclusive.
However, there are aspects of these types of resources that need advanced planning to overcome possible barriers to inclusion, such as making sure content is presented on an accessible media player and there are captions, transcripts, plus audio descriptions where necessary and sign language translations. These features require a certain amount of time and expertise to create, however with AI and machine learning automation is beginning to happen. Google’s Cloud Video Intelligence has begin the process of annotating videos across personal libraries and YouTube offer ‘Transcribe and Auto-Sync’ that takes a typed transcript and by using speech recognition matches the text to the audio to time your captions. This may save time but just as with totally automated captioning errors may creep in, but but you can edit the results.
You may also be interested in other related resources which can be accessed from the ‘See also’ section at the bottom of this page.
What are your thoughts about how the guidance, links and technologies about the use of multimedia (mentioned previously in the course) could be used to encourage inclusive learning opportunities?

© This work is created by the University of Southampton and licensed under CC-BY 4.0 International Licence. Erasmus + MOOCs for Accessibility Partnership.
This article is from the free online

Inclusive Learning and Teaching Environments

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education

  • 30% off Futurelearn Unlimited!