Multimedia eLearning: The What, The Why and the How?
Multimedia eLearning resources are an integral part of a digital learning experience. In this article, we will explore what is a multimedia eLearning resource, as well as why and how to apply it in learning.
What is Multimedia eLearning?
Multimedia eLearning are resources that include a mixture of content including video, audio, visual, text, interactive exercises and quizzes.
Learners are taken through a structured journey and asked to engage in content, exercises and assessments. These resources can range in duration from 10 to 30 minutes. They can be standalone resources, or there may be several of them as part of a wider course or programme.
The benefits of a multimedia approach to learning design are numerous including better problem-solving, a deeper understanding of the material, higher positive emotions and immersive learning opportunities.
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Where to apply it in learning?
Depending on how the multimedia eLearning resources are designed, they can be used in a wide variety of learning contexts, including content delivery and to ensure the understanding of a topic through exercises.
They are typically associated with compliance-based training, where there is a requirement to test the learner’s understanding.
What is the instructional design process?
The core steps in the design of Multimedia eLearning courses are: Scope, Wireframe, Screenplan and Storyboard. Here is an overview of each step:
The first step is to scope the eLearning course with the key stakeholders including the SME. The following questions need to be answered as part of your scoping phase:
- Who is the audience? – it can be worth running through the learner personas to check if there are any design considerations.
- Why? – what is the specific learning objective for this resource. Keep it to 1 or 2 objectives and consider the levels of Blooms.
- What? – what are the specific topics that you need to address in this resource. Refer to your module framework here. The topics then need to be packaged into 2 to 4 sections for the learner. Try to have a clear title for your sections that will make sense to the learner, keep this to 1 or 2 words.
A wireframe is a one-page visual overview of how the resource is going to flow or be structured. It is an outline of the main screens or touchpoints. You should brainstorm the wireframe with the SME.
- We would recommend that you use a wireframe template to support this process.
- These wireframes are based on the instructional design principles: Hook, Instructional Input, Guided Practice, Closure and Next Steps.
The screenplay is a more detailed version of the wireframe. A screenplan provides more detail on what is going to be shown on each screen. It will provide an overview of the following:
- The purpose of the screen?
- What will be happening on the screen? Types of exercise etc.
- What elements will be on the screen? Audio, visual etc. Refer to Mayer’s principles here.
- How will these elements be laid out?
- Please note at this stage you are not scripting any content, scripting will come in the storyboard.
Once the screenplan is signed off, you can move into the storyboarding. The storyboard should provide a detailed description of the following:
- Full script for the on-screen text.
- Full voice over script.
- A detailed description of how user navigation will work.
- Outline of the images that should be used.
- Guidance notes to the developers.
- Mockup for some of the screens to bring the visual design to life.
What is the development process?
See below a summary of the core steps in the development process of Multimedia eLearning courses.
- The mock-ups are generally be done at the same time as the storyboard, as they will support the storyboard.
- Take 5 or 6 screens from the screenplan and ask the developer to create a mock-up using static images.
- The mock-ups should be used to sign off the visual design/look and feel of the resource.
- Refer to your CRAP design principles and the company brand guidelines.
- A functional prototype is used to get sign off on the usability of the resource and the user experience.
- The developer should build 7–10 screens from the resource, without audio.
- Try to get a mixture of screens i.e. exercises, content, hook etc.
Alpha Development & Testing
- At alpha development, the developer will build the full resource without audio and video.
- It can be useful to get approximately 5 people to test the alpha resource to ensure that it functions correctly.
Audio and Video Production
- Once the alpha phase is complete you can start to finalise the audio and video production.
- There may be a mixture of animated and instructional videos. These will follow their own mini design process and this will be covered in module 6.
- The audio production can be undertaken by professional voice-over artists or developed internally if required.
Beta Development & Testing
- At beta development, the developer will build the full resource with audio and video.
- It can be useful to have a selection of the end-user group/pilot group to undertake user testing in this stage.
Set up the LMS
- The last step will be to create the resource as a SCORM or xAPI package and then publish this on the LMS.
- Another round of user testing can be completed at this phase.
What tools can be used?
There is a wide range of authoring tools on the market that support the development of multimedia, eLearning resources. A few of the leading tools in the market are: Articulate, Captivate, Elucidate, Evolve, iSpring.
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