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Multimedia Communication

Learn more about how research evidence can maximise the effectiveness of our use of multimedia learning in the classroom.
Why might teachers want to make use of multimedia content to aid pupils’ learning? Well, if you go right back to the seventies, there’s a guy called Alan Paivio and he talks about dual coding. This theory of dual coding is that if you take in inputs from verbal and nonverbal, you’re more likely to take things and understand them faster. Then you’ve got people like Richard Mayer, who again in the 70s talked about cognitive load and how multimedia can get things into people’s heads quickly and by doing this using multimedia, and there were five principles of multimedia he talked about.
So things like, if you put up sound; someone talking, as well as a visual that can go in where it doesn’t before in a better way and things like if you show a diagram,
for instance. This is the classic one is if you you put a list of all the things to do with the heart and how the heart functions in biology or you put a diagram up, an annotated diagram pointing to the specific parts of the heart, which one are you going to get faster? You’re going to get the heart one faster in that respect, but you’ve got to be careful how you use that multimedia. It’s no good doing what people do at conferences like put up a PowerPoint and read all the words that are behind them, which you’ve seen time and time and time again. I’ve never seen that before! So that’s redundancy. You don’t do that.
You put, the other thing is you don’t put up… When you say redundancy, what is redundant about that?You’re giving two pieces of information that are exactly the same and you really don’t want, you want to, you don’t want to overload people with that or they’re going to ignore it. The other thing is not to put up sort of lots of whiz-bang stuff on on a slide in multimedia because that’s going to detract from the knowledge, or the content of the knowledge.
So going back to those things, because I know that many teachers might use PowerPoints and so on, I wasn’t organised enough to do that in my lessons and it didn’t really work for maths, but I’ve seen people do it many times in say English or history or whatever, how should they be designing their PowerPoint slides? They should be designing them so they’re very simple. They’re very plain and the information is very plain so that you get the core knowledge into the thing that you’re doing but using a diagram; and not using a diagram with words scattered all over the place.
Having an annotated diagram, possibly with arrows because it’s been shown that arrows pointing to things get it in there faster as well. Those sorts of things are now coming up in research and it’s been borne out by the evidence so they need to really focus and be quite forensic how they use that multimedia. So going back to your heart example, say you’ve got your arrows so whoever it is a heart surgeon, or the science teacher is talking about the heart to their students, you’ve got the diagram of the heart, they’re saying some stuff about it, when should the arrows come up?
Is it okay if the arrows are there the whole time or should it come up like the atrium or whatever comes up as you’re talking. This is one of the other things so the process of drawing the heart as you’re going along and annotating it is even better, so a diagram is good, an annotated diagram is better, a drawn diagram and annotated in real time with you talking about it is even better and in that sense that’s quite good.
But if you can attach your visualiser to some way of recording a video of what you’re doing then you’ve also got that to put up elsewhere so that could be used as a revision guide as well so you can space the learning. So all these things are quite forensic, so thinking about them really carefully and how you do them and how you use those resources is is one of the things. I would say people should go along to a site called and Dr. Weinstein, she’s called Dr.
why on Twitter and they have got a really good set of blogs and resources by people and if you just do a general search for dual coding on there, you’ll see all the research and all the exemplars of how people do stuff and the latest stuff that’s come out.
In this video, Iesha Small, Author, Consultant, and Innovation Leader interviews Leon Cych, Director of Learn for Life about making the presentation of new knowledge effective.

Leon shares how research evidence can make our design of materials to explain new concepts more effective. His thoughts will add to your clarity about the presentation of learning ahead of taking a look at the school case studies to accompany this week’s learning.

Key takeaways:

  • Understanding dual coding can help us to explain concepts effectively for better learning retention
  • Multimedia can help to reduce cognitive load of new learning where words and visuals are combined
  • The Learning Scientists website is a useful resource for helping us to understand how we learn

If you’re interested in learning more about the principles of dual-coding and how it might support your practice, take a look at this video of Oliver Caviglioli and [this free bitesize online course] (

When you’ve watched this video and made any notes to record key learning points, click the ‘Mark as complete’ button below and then select ‘Using cognitive load theory to improve slideshow presentations’ to continue your learning.
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