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

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3 thoughts on “Designing with audio and visuals

  1. Angie

    Great job on your blog! I love the theme and your presentation is visually appealing and very informative. I am starting a new role as a trainer and will definitely use the information you have presented. Thanks for adding the links to the wiki.

  2. Pingback: Introduction to My Blog | Starsky D's

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K. Sterling

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