Designing with multimedia

Prompt: What have you learned thus far about designing instruction? What is different? What is the same as other forms of instruction?

I made it! I am at Project 7, which is the culmination of all the hard work that I have done up to this point. I had to combine all of my instruction sets to create a single webpage to teach someone how to checkout a book from an academic library. My webpage could not simply contain instructional silos from previous weeks. It had to include my images, text, video, and audio instructions mashed up to form a single, coherent instructional track. That might sound easy because I imagine you are thinking, “You have already done the work just put them together.” True, but how I put them together was what was difficult.

Designing with multimedia is different in that it uses a variety of media to display instructional content. No longer is the instructional designer limited to one or two types of media. Any type of media or combination of media is possible. With the freedom to use multiple types of media, comes the responsibility to ensure that learners can actually learn. In my mind, it is very easy to create cluttered instructional content because the designer may feel the need to include everything so that all types of media are present throughout the instructional set. She wants her content to appeal to all types of learners (Sankey & Nooriafshar, 2005). Including too much instructional content runs the risk of alienating learners as it can be confusing and unclear.

Designing instruction with multimedia is much the same as other instructional sets in that the designer must always think about the design and layout of the instruction. They must always consider how the learners will interact with the instructional content. They must always remember that the possibility for too much content lurks in the shadows among the instructional possibilities. Throughout this course, we have had weekly readings and one theme that has emerged to me is the theme of cognitive overload. As an instructional designer it is imperative to not overload your learners with too much information at one time (Lang, 1995). I feel with webpages that is really easy to do. Some webpages have so many hyperlinks it is hard to distinguish where to start or end. Learners can easily become lost and overwhelmed in the maze of hyperlinks (Shapiro & Niederhauser, 2004).

With my webpage, I did not want to present learners with this conundrum. When it came time for me to contemplate the design for my webpage, I wanted to ensure that I minimized distractions, that my layout and navigation were clear, and learners were not immediately confronted with an overwhelming amount of information. To accomplish this, I used a simple vertical navigation menu. Learners can choose which step they want to start with but the steps presented on the page in order with no extra hyperlinks or outside content added in that section. In addition, after reading Koumi (2003), the idea of learner control has really resonated with me. I wanted to give my learners choices in how they access and engage with the content. I hid the instructional content until each step in the vertical navigation was clicked on, which also helps mitigate cognitive overload, and within the steps with audio and visual instructions, I added the option to show or hide the text for the audio captions.

I am very proud of what I have accomplished so far and am pleased with my webpage. I think it is clear, easy to use and follow. I also think that the combination of media that I decided upon best represents each step so that the learner receives the most from the instruction. Using multimedia in instruction is by far the best option when designing instruction as most learners want and expect variety and choices when it comes to instruction.


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.

Sankey, M., & Nooriafshar, M. (2005). Multiple representations in multimedia and e-learning materials: An issue of literacy. In Enhancing learning and teaching: pedagogy, technology and language (pp. 149-172). Flaxton, Australia: Post Pressed.

Shapiro, A., & Niederhauser, D. (2004).  Learning from hypertext: Research issues and findings.  In D. H. Jonassen (Ed.), Handbook of research in educational communications and technology (2nd ed.) (pp. 605-620)Mahwah, N. J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

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