Onward through multimedia, instructional design, & learning theories

Prompt: What have you learned in the course about designing instruction from a multimedia perspective? How would designing instruction be different from a constructivist perspective, based on what you read? Would it?

I would like to start off this post by expressing my gratitude that to assist with learning the software in this course we had access to VTC.com trainings. I truly believe if I had not been able to watch the tutorials and follow along with the practice examples that I would have been unable to complete this course. Thank you to VTC.com for making the training videos and thank you to UNT College of Information for providing us access to them.

That segue does dovetail nicely into the first question of the prompt: what have I learned about designing instruction with multimedia? Essentially, I learned that designing effective multimedia instruction is difficult and time consuming but rewarding when viewed from the perspective of the learner. As an example, look at me, Adobe software and this course. I was able to use multimedia in the form of video for the tutorials, text for the readings, and audio and text with the synchronous chats, to discover new content and amass new learning experiences. That does not mean that my journey was smooth sailing. No, in fact effective multimedia instruction causes learners, including me, to undergo mental dissonance as new experiences and new knowledge conflict with existing schemas (Duffy & Cunningham, 1996); however, by continuing to incorporate the various forms of multimedia into my learning quest, I was able to resolve my conflict by actively applying what I was learning to construct content of my own.

I also learned that effective instruction uses combinations of text, audio, video, and images but does not overwhelm the learner with all four of them at one time (Lang, 1995). One concept that was mentioned throughout much of the literature were discussions on cognitive overload (Barron, 2004; Braden, 2004; Daniels, 1996; Hartley, 2004; Koumi, 2003; Lang, 1995; Seels, Fullerton, Berry, & Horn, 2004) and how it is import to consider the impact the multimedia instruction will have on the learner. Will it impede the learning process because it is overwhelming the learner’s working memory which then means they won’t be able to effectively process the information? Either because the media are competing against each other for dominance or because the media does not fit the content. Or do the multimedia work in harmony together to aid the learning process? By engaging the learner’s attention and by appealing to both the audio and visual channels of the brain using complementary content so that the learner can successfully absorb the information and relate it to prior knowledge, which allows them to build new schemas (Duffy & Cunningham, 1996; Lang, 1995).

Regarding designing multimedia instruction from a constructivist perspective, I must admit that I am still confused about the learning theories, instructional design and which one works best. I think part of my confusion stems from all of the conflicting opinions in the articles throughout the Handbook of Research on Educational Communications and Technology, including the 2nd edition and the first. Honestly, I do not think that there is one “right” theory. I do think that how you design multimedia instruction depends on the learning theory that you employ. If we take the constructivist approach, the multimedia instruction would depend on the learning objectives, or learning issues, that the students themselves decide upon (Duffy & Cunningham, 1996). The students would determine the course of action as well as the educational technologies they would use and the instructional designer would be the guide/facilitator. Perhaps I am looking at this all wrong but that is my understanding of the matter.

From the learner perspective of my project, it is not constructivist as I had set learning goals and objectives the learner had to meet and to meet those goals and objectives they had to follow instructions in a specific order, which is a behaviorist approach. From my view of the project as both the instructional designer and learner, while I did have to meet set goals and objectives each week, I had freedom in how I wanted to meet those goals. I chose my own topic and chose how I wanted to represent the topic using the required media. In my opinion, my learning journey in this course was a combination of cognitive constructivism, which I think closely aligns with cognitivism, and sociocultural constructivism (Duffy & Cunningham, 1996; Ertmer & Newby, 1993). I think most learning situations follow suit in that they adopt a combination of learning theories and multimedia.

Overall, it has been an interesting experience. I am happy, proud, and relieved that I have made it through. I look forward to continuing my journey of instructional design and seeing what lies ahead.


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.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

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

Daniels, H. L. (1996). Interaction of cognitive style and learner control of presentation mode in a hypermedia environment. Retrieved from https://learn.unt.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-1974414-dt-content-rid-17414476_1/xid-17414476_1

Duffy, T., & Cunningham D. (1996). Constructivism: Implications for the design and delivery of
instruction. In D. H. Jonassen, (Ed.), Handbook of Research for Educational Communications and Technology (170-198). New York: Simon and Schuster.

Ertmer, P. A., & Newby, T. J. (1993). Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism: Comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 6(4), 50-71. doi:10.1111/j.1937-8327.1993.tb00605.x

Hartley, J. (2004).  Designing instructional and informational text.  In D. H. Jonassen (Ed.), Handbook of research in educational communications and technology (2nd ed.(pp. 917-947)Mahwah, N. J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

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.

Seels, B., Fullerton, K., Berry, L., & Horn, L. J. (2004). Research on learning from television. In. D. H. Jonassen (Ed.), Handbook of research on educational communications and technology (2nd ed.) (pp. 949-978). Mahwah, N. J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

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