Monthly Archives: October 2014

Audio, visuals, text, oh my!

Prompt: What is different about developing instruction with both images and audio combined? Is it more efficient? Do you think about how you instruct someone differently? Are there limitations? Benefits? If so, what are they?

This week for our project, I had to redesign my instruction set to include images, audio, and text. While that may seem like an easy task to undertake, reality was starkly different. This assignment was hands-down, the most difficult concept for me to wrap my mind around. How was I going to effectively teach my project with only one page and incorporate all three media forms? I really had to think about the overall layout of the content as well as the how to combine my previous images, text and visuals to make a whole, seamless instruction, instead of three separate forms of communication.

From a design perspective, I was limited to a one page interactive PDF to include all my instruction content so space was at a premium. Since my topic is about how to checkout a book from an academic library, I decided to have my design layout mimic a book. I halved my page and put the section headers as chapter titles on the left and the actuals instructions as the chapter content on the right, similar to how people read. In addition, I decided to not have the audio automatically play when the learner clicked on a section. I dislike pages that automatically play sound on websites, so I made the audio part of my project as an option that the learner must click on to hear it play. On the plus side, since we used InDesign to create our instruction set, I know now how to make interactive PDFs and find that they are a useful method to deliver multimedia instruction. A downside of them is that since they export as Flash files they exclude mobile devices as an option to view the content. Since many people appreciate the convenience of learning on the go, this is a serious drawback in my opinion. With future interactive PDF content, I plan to research how to make them compatible across devices so that they are device and platform agnostic.

Another drawback of designing instruction with multimedia is that it becomes very easy to overload and overwhelm learners with content. It is important to not throw all the information at the learner in one swoop. If the learner’s sensory memory becomes overloaded, they will not know which part of the content they should focus on, which in turn means that they will not be able to successfully encode the information for retrieval later (Lang, 1995).  In Lang’s research, she found that when presenting content in multiple channels, such as audio and visual information, that presentations that shared similar visual and audio content were the ones most successfully remembered and were the ones that imposed less of a cognitive burden on the learner (Lang, 1995). The instructional designer should keep this in mind when designing instructional content and ensure that all the components complement each other to increase the learner’s chances to successfully attend to and encode the information.

From a learning perspective, instructions that use audio, images, and text are expected and standard learning techniques. Personally, as a learner, I enjoy being able to choose how I want to learn and the types of media I employ, and I think the majority of learners are the same. We appreciate choices and having the ability to decide how we learn. Using multiple forms of media provides the learner with control (Koumi, 2003). With multimedia, the learner can choose if they want to listen to the instructions, read them, or view them. They can pause or stop the audio to read something more deeply and can go back and listen to content again if they choose. They can look at the visuals and then read the text. Compare this to instruction using only single media where the learner does not have an option. They are forced into relying on one media for instructional content delivery.

Overall, I am pleased with how this week’s project turned out and think that designing with multimedia is always better from a learning perspective than single media. It is important to give learners choices and control over how they learn. While the learner may not have a choice about the content, they can have a choice about how they learn it.


Koumi, J. (2003). Synergy between audio commentary and visuals in multimedia packages. Journal
of Educational Media, 28, 19-34. doi:10.1080/1358165032000156419

Lang, A. (1995). Defining audio/video redundancy from a limited-capacity information processing
perspective. Communication Research, 22, 86-115.

Categories: CECS 5110 | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Designing with audio and visuals

Prompt: What have you learned thus far about designing instruction from a multiple media perspective? How do you think the use of audio-visual instruction will benefit teaching and learning? What do you think will be potential issues with the use of audio-visual instruction? How do you think it will impact your teaching and learning?

Each week we read various scholarly articles* about designing with multimedia. Each week after I finish reading the articles, I come away more confused than ever. Each author has their own theory for what is the best method and each theory cites multiple literature reviews that all seem to cite conflicting research (Lang, 1995). What is the best method for designing instruction with multimedia? Is there even a best method for designing instruction with multimedia?

I started this class with the thought that I would learn the best way to design using multimedia. At this point in the semester, about 8 weeks in, I think that this was an erroneous thought. I honestly think, and this may change as the semester progresses, that there is no one best method for designing instruction using multimedia. One thing that I have realized during this course is that an important theme to keep in mind when creating multimedia instruction is balance. Simply incorporating advanced technologies such as audio and visual information does not automatically create a superior product. Superior instructional design strategies incorporate strategies that are complementary and succinct.

For example, in Lang’s (1995) article she discusses multimedia from the perspective of memory and cognitive overload. When designing using multimedia, it is very easy to overload the learner’s cognitive processing capacity. When a learner’s cognitive processing capacity has reached its limit, the learner is less likely to be able to successfully encode information for retrieval at a later date. This is especially true when incorporating multiple types of media that each present conflicting information. Her research found that multimedia that present the same, or redundant, messages are the ones that tend to not overload cognitive capacity and so allow the learner to successfully encode, store and retrieve the information from memory (Lang, 1995).

Designing instruction using both audio and visual information, in which visual includes text and images, allows the learner the most control over their instruction (Koumi, 2003). The learner can choose whether to follow the instructions by viewing the text and images, by listening to the audio, or by using some combination of all of the above. Designing with multimedia is also more inclusive than using a single media. Single media can exclude learners with disabilities or learners who prefer using one form of media over another. Instruction that includes multiple types of media ensures that all learners can benefit from the instruction.

To sum up what I have learned about designing instruction from a multimedia perspective, it is a complex topic that is both frustrating yet also rewarding. At the end of a project, after I have taken many, many deep breaths, I look back at what I have created and am pleasantly surprised and pleased with my end result. Designing with multimedia allows the instructor more freedom, is more inclusive for all learners, and allows the learner more control over their education.

*For a complete list of references, please refer to my past blogs in the CECS 5110 category.


Koumi, J. (2003). Synergy between audio commentary and visuals in multimedia packages. Journal of Educational Media, 28, 19-34. doi:10.1080/1358165032000156419

Lang, A. (1995). Defining audio/video redundancy from a limited-capacity information processing perspective. Communication Research, 22, 86-115.

Categories: CECS 5110 | Tags: , | 3 Comments

Hear ye, Hear Me

Prompt: What is different about developing instruction with audio? Is it more efficient? Do you think about how you instruct someone differently? Are there limitations? Benefits? If so, what are they?

For this phase of the project, I had to recreate my instructional set using only audio instructions. To be honest, I must admit that I dreaded this assignment. I do not like hearing myself speak. I think I sound funny and so I approached this topic with a negative mindset. Once I started recording though it went much smoother and was easier than I expected. Putting the audio instruction set together was surprisingly simple and straightforward with only minor technical updates needed. After listening to my recordings, I am pleased with how I sounded and how the instructions turned out.

Before beginning recording, I had to think about my tone, pitch, vocal indicators, navigational cues, and pacing (Koumi, 2003). I wanted to make sure that I did not speak too fast for listeners to understand but that I also did not speak too slowly so that they lost attention. I also had to ensure that when I did begin recording that my area was free of distractions and noise. I followed Koumi’s (2003) advice, recorded first, and then adapted my script from my recordings. I also tried to make my recordings as conversational and personal as possible, using “you” instead of the third-person.

Recording with audio benefits a wide range of learners as they can pause, rewind, slow down, or speed up the recording at their leisure (Barron, 2004). This is in line with Koumi‘s (2003) recommendations to allow the learner control of the instructional process by providing audio controls. This way the learner sets the pace for the instructions. In addition, Barron (2004) found that auditory information is processed differently than visual information and that when comparing the two side-by-side, learners remember auditory information longer than visual information.

With digital recordings, learners also have the added benefit of downloading the recording to listen to them using a mobile device or in a vehicle. With digital recordings, the learning environment becomes anywhere the user is, which make audio instruction a very powerful educational tool. It is important to keep in mind that when bringing audio instruction into the classroom that hearing impaired individuals will need either a translator or the recording will need to provide closed captions to include them in the instructional process.

Limitations of audio instruction are that it can overwhelm the learner, especially if abstract or difficult concepts are explained solely through audio (Barron, 2004). With abstract or technical concepts, research has shown that pairing audio with a corresponding visual increases learning and helps to explain the concept (Barron, 2004). In addition, when using only audio recordings, learners miss out on facial expressions and bodily gestures, which are an important part of the communication process, and interpersonal communication can be an important component of learning.

Overall, I find that the benefits of audio instruction outweigh the negatives. Audio is a popular form of learning that is familiar to people of all ages. People listen to the radio, use podcasts, listen via the phone, or attend webinars to learn on a regular basis. Incorporating audio instructions into the classroom is a sound decision.


Barron, A. E. (2004). Auditory instruction. In D. H. Jonassen (Ed.), Handbook of research on educational communications and technology (2nd ed.) (pp. 949–978). Mahwah, N. J.: Erlbaum.

Koumi, J. (2003). Synergy between audio commentary and visuals in multimedia packages. Journal of Educational Media, 28, 19-34. doi:10.1080/1358165032000156419

Categories: CECS 5110 | Tags: , | Leave a comment

HarperCollins, libraries, and eBooks

Prompt: You may have heard about the HarperCollins Library eBook Controversy. If not, the following provides some background:

There are two steps in this experiment:

  • Step 1: With your posting in this forum, please take a stand, either for or against, on the HarperCollins’ e-book policy. Do not discuss both sides of the views. Whether you pick the argument “for” or “against” the policy, please provide at least three supporting arguments and references.
  • Step 2: Read what the others in the class have posted in the Week 7 Experiment – Step 1 discussion area, revise your original posting, and post a final (real) view with references on your blog. Post a link to your blog in the appropriate discussion forum.  This is due at the end of week 8.

Based on what other people have posted in the class forum, I am pretty happy with my original posting. It seems to gel with my other classmates as they too are against HarperCollins’ eBook policy. The only addition that I would like to add to my original posting has to do with my first point. In it, I left out the situation with OverDrive and Kansas (thank you, Janell!). Below is my original posting with the addition added to the second full paragraph.

In the HarperCollins eBook debate, I am opposed to HarperCollins’s position. My arguments are the following:

  1. With eBooks, libraries do not actually own the books. They are essentially renting them;
  2. A purpose of libraries is to provide a place that preserves the past. With eBooks constantly disappearing from collections that is impossible to do; and
  3. Libraries should not be required to constantly repurchase new copies of eBooks after a set number of uses are reached.

With the current eBook model, libraries do not actually own the content. We are simply licensing, or renting, the content from the eBook publishers, such as HarperCollins. What this means is that at any time the content can be taken away from our collection (Fister, 2011; Schneider, 2011). With print books, once a library purchases a copy of the print book the library owns the copy and may share and resell that copy as they choose. Not so with eBooks, libraries remain at the whim of the publisher and eBook provider to supply the content.

An excellent example of this point is the fight that Kansas State Librarian, Joanne Budler,had to undergo when she wanted to switch eBook vendors. At the beginning she was told that the eBook vendor owned the book content and not the library consortium. After a court battle and also because of the original contract language, she was able to move the majority of the content but only after contacting all publishers for permission. Those that she couldn’t reach had to stay with the previous eBook vendor. As an aside, the previous eBook vendor changed their contract language. In her interview, she sums up the event nicely:

E-content should not be treated any differently than physical content. . . . Ownership should be retained by the purchaser. Transfer from one shelf/platform to another should be based on DRM, i.e. as long as DRM is maintained, it should not matter which shelf/platform holds that content (Budler, 2012, ALA guidelines question).

One of the main purposes of libraries has been to preserve the past and culture of the community they serve (Schneider, 2011). With the current eBook model, libraries can no longer retain copies of eBooks. After the twenty-six uses has been reached the copy is returned to the publisher. To retain a copy of that book, the library must either buy it in print, which limits how the public can access that copy, or purchase a new copy of the eBook. Once again, the library is at the whim of the publisher and eBook provider.

Libraries should not have to constantly repurchase new copies of eBooks simply because a set number of uses has been reached (Fister, 2011; Osnos, 2011; Schneider, 2011). Libraries are meant to share information. Many times the form of information comes as a book. Whether the book is in print or electronic format should not matter. Libraries should not be held back with disseminating information because a set number of uses has been reached. Publishers cannot set a number of uses on print books. The same should apply to eBooks. Libraries should determine when a new copy needs to be purchased, not the publisher or eBook provider.


Budler, J. (2012, January 3). Joanne Budler [Interview]. American Library Association. Retrieved from

Fister, B. (2011, February 28). A library written in disappearing ink [Blog]. Retrieved from

Osnos, P. (2011, March 29). Public libraries take on e-Books. The Atlantic. Retrieved from

Schneider, K. G. (2011, February 26). HarperCollins memento plan [Blog]. Retrieved from

Categories: CECS 5200 | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Can you hear me now?

How do you think the use of audio-only instruction will benefit teaching and learning? What do you think will be potential issues with the use of audio? How do you think it will impact your teaching and learning? What do you think is helpful about using audio? How do you think it differs from using images and text?

One of the benefits of using audio in teaching and learning is that if the speaker is directly in front of the person they can use voice cues and bodily cues to help translate the message. Research has shown that students retain more when listening than they do when reading in part because of the use of hand gestures and facial expressions (Barron, 2004). Lecture is a significant method for teaching in all grade levels and is a style of teaching that students are familiar and accustomed to, especially in the secondary and higher education. Another benefit of using audio only instruction is that with visually impaired learners, audio is significant communication source of information when learning. Cognitive research studies have also shown that the brain processes auditory information differently than visual information and that echoic, short-term auditory memory, is able to hold information longer than iconic, short-term visual memory (Barron, 2004).

Potential issues with audio are that if the person can only hear the speaker but not see the speaker they miss out on important visual cues. Some research has shown that learners who only listen to information and are not able to see the speaker perform poorer than those who can both see and hear the speaker (Barron, 2004). In addition, students who have poor reading comprehension levels perform poorly when it comes to audio only comprehension levels as the two are tied closely together (Barron, 2004). With hearing impaired learners, using audio only instruction requires that an American Sign Language translator be on hand to ensure that those learners are included in the instructional process.

When designing instruction using only audio, I, as the instructor, need to make sure that my voice is clear and well-modulated. I need to make sure that I do not speak too slowly or too fast and that I intersperse voice cues when speaking. I also need to make sure that I divide my instruction into short segments and not one long instruction set (Barron, 2004). It is easier on the learners if the instruction mimics the steps that they will follow and uses auditory and directional cues, such as step 1 and now play step 2 to move forward to the next step.

What I find helpful about audio is that it is comforting to me as a learner as it is a familiar process to listen to information. I am a fan of podcasts and talk radio, which both use audio only to disseminate information. I think it differs greatly from images and text in that it uses a different cognitive processing tract (Barron, 2004). Audio only instruction shares verbal instructions but without bodily cues or pictures. The learner can only listen to determine what the author is saying versus reading the text or viewing complementary images. In that aspect, it can be limiting to me as a learner as I also find images and text to be a helpful part of the learning process.

Overall, I think using audio is an important part of the instructional process. That being said, I do not believe that it should be the only method to teach learners, as it is too restricting. I feel that learners benefit from using a variety of instructional methods and relying on only one can be exclusive, which is the antithesis of true education.


Barron, A. E. (2004). Auditory instruction. In D. H. Jonassen (Ed.), Handbook of research on educational communications and technology (2nd ed.) (pp. 949–978). Mahwah, N. J.: Erlbaum.

Categories: CECS 5110 | Tags: | Leave a comment

Designing with text and images

Prompt: What is different about developing instruction with both images and text combined? Is it more efficient? Do you think about how you instruct someone differently? Are there limitations? Benefits? If so, what are they?

This week with our project we combined our text instructions with our image instructions. I thought that this would be a simple matter of putting them both together; however, that wasn’t the case at all. It took me quite a while to determine the best method for presenting the combined text and images. In undertaking this project, I first had to think about what the learning goals and objectives are and then, I had to decide how best to convey them using both text and images together, not separately. I had to think about the layout, which images to use, how to rewrite the text in order for it to make sense with the images, and color choices. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t overwhelm my audience and cause confusion. I also wanted to make sure that my layout wasn’t cluttered and presented the information in a clear and logical manner.

When combining two forms of media, the instructional designer must make sure that the combined media don’t overload the learner (Daniels, 1996; Hede, 2002). If the learner is presented with too much stimuli, it can tax their working memory. When the working memory is overloaded, this causes the cognitive processing abilities to devote all of their efforts to sifting through the various stimuli (Daniels, 1996; Hede, 2002). What all this boils down to is that instead of the learner actually using the multimedia to learn the content, which is the point of instruction, they end up using all of their mental prowess to just make sense of the multimedia. They don’t actually learn anything because the multimedia is so overwhelming or confusing that all of their attention is devoted to the stimuli instead of the content.

On the other hand, with good instructional design combining two media, such as text and images, can actually increase learning and retention (Braden, 2004; Daniels, 1996). Research has shown that for many people combining text with supporting images helps people to comprehend and retain the information better than compared to using just one mode of instruction (Braden, 2004; Daniels, 1996). I think that this is because the combined multimedia help support additional learning styles. For some people, they learn best with pictures; whereas, with other learners verbal input is the best method (Hede, 2002). When you combine text with images, you are able to reach both learning styles at the same time. For visual learners the images help them make sense of the textual instructions and for verbal learners the textual instructions are highlighted by the placement of the images.

Source: Flickr/CC - Student studying

Source: Flickr/CC – Student studying

In my opinion, combining text and images to instruct learners is better than using either text or images alone and is also a multimedia method that is very familiar to learners. Consider textbooks as an example. Most textbooks use a combination of text and images to share information with students. The text explains a concept and the supporting images provide the reader with a visual depiction of the concept. As a student, I comprehend information better when I can both read it and see it, especially with abstract concepts. Having access to a graphical representation of a difficult concept that I can refer back to when reading about it helps me to fully grasp the “big picture.” Often times, when I am recalling information, the picture is what my long-term and working memory first recall and then, the corresponding text. Both play a part in helping me to learn.

Overall, using a combination of text and images versus using only text or only images makes more sense from an instructional design perspective. Although instructional designers can run the risk of overwhelming the learner using multiple media, if they keep in mind the design principles of contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity (Williams, 2008), they mitigate those risks. By combining text and images in instructional design, they provide content that has a higher chance of attracting learners and engaging them (Hede, 2002). The more learners are engaged the higher the odds are that they will actually learn the material.


Braden, R. A. (2004). Visual literacy. In D. H. Jonassen (Ed.), Handbook of research on educational communications and technology (2nd ed.). Mahwah, N. J.: Erlbaum.

Daniels, H. L. (1996). Interaction of cognitive style and learner control of presentation mode in a hypermedia environment. Retrieved from

Hede, A. (2002). An integrated model of multimedia effects on learning. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 11, 177-191.

Williams, R. (2008). The non-designer’s design book: Design and typographic principles for the visual novice (3rd ed.). Berkeley, CA: Peachpit Press.

Categories: CECS 5110 | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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