25 August

Top 5 Benefits of Multimedia eLearning

When most people think of learning, images of books, text-filled slide decks and other written materials may come to mind. This is because learning through text has traditionally been a common and effective method of learning. However, it isn’t the only method. And learning through an array of different types of media, which is known as multimedia learning, may in some cases be more impactful and effective.

Multimedia learning involves using the aid of technology to deliver a blend of text, static images, animation, video and audio. Some examples of common types of media used for learning are slide decks, recorded videos, infographics and podcasts. Each of the various types of media supports learning through enabling learners to use their different senses. Rather than simply reading words, they can also hear and see the content – which enriches the learning experience.

In this article, we share the top five benefits of incorporating multimedia learning into your digital instruction.

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1. Better problem solving

One of the main benefits of multimedia learning is that it increases learners’ problem solving ability. This is due to the fact that multimedia learning is oftentimes more interactive and stimulating. As opposed to reading a problem in a textbook, learners are able to visually see the problem and therefore enhance their ability to solve it.

One study even showed that multimedia learning can increase learners’ motivation, level of understanding and teamwork – which can all lead to better problem solving. Multimedia learning is just more engaging for learners and allows them to dig deeper into problems in order to find better solutions. For this reason, using different types of media can be especially beneficial when using the Problem-Based Learning method.

2. Deeper understanding

Another important benefit of multimedia learning is that it enables learners to develop a deeper understanding of the material. The educational psychologist, Richard Mayer, developed a widely accepted theory that explains why multimedia learning leads to deeper understanding. His theory, which is known as the Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning, purports that multimedia enables the brain to process information through multiple channels, thus leading to deeper understanding.

Two channels through which the brain processes information are visual and auditory. When these two channels are deployed effectively, learners can understand the content quicker and more comprehensively. As learners have more information stored, they are also better able to recall the information at a later time. Therefore, multimedia enables learners to both gain and retain a deeper understanding of the learning content.

3. Higher positive emotions

It is well-known that emotions play a critical role in learning. When learners have more positive emotions, such as joy, interest, gratitude, and amusement, they are more likely to achieve better learning outcomes. Since multimedia learning has been shown to increase positive emotions, it can also improve learning.

Having positive emotions can increase learners’ ability to solve problems, think creatively, pay attention and retain information – which are all key facets of effective learning. Therefore, it should be a goal of instructional design to increase the level of positive emotions in learners. And for this reason multimedia learning can be such a powerful tool. Since multimedia learning includes more interaction and stimulation, it is often more enjoyable for learners.

A way to further enhance the positive emotions that stem from multimedia learning is to apply principles from Emotional Design. Conceptualised by the cognitive scientist and leading UX researcher, Don Norman, Emotional Design is a framework for creating designs that elicit positive emotions.

Norman proposes that users experience three levels of cognition: visceral, behavioural, and reflective. Visceral refers to the appearance and first impressions that users have of a product, or in this case learning experience. Behavioural refers to usability. And reflective refers to whether learners benefited from the overall experience.

When learners are enjoying themselves and experiencing positive emotions, they are in a better cognitive state to learn. Therefore, by incorporating Emotional Design into your multimedia strategies, you’re able to create learning experiences that tap into the emotions of learners – and greatly increase their capacity to learn.

4. Access to knowledge

With the emergence of the internet, society gained access to a vast amount of information that was previously unavailable. While this increased access to information has had numerous benefits, one of the most pivotal has been the impact that it has had on education and learning. Because the internet includes seemingly infinite amounts of information from different sources and in various formats, it has greatly enhanced the potential of multimedia learning.

One example of this is the use of YouTube videos in lessons. If an instructor came across a video that illustrated a concept in an engaging and impactful way, they could choose to add this to the lesson plan. In addition to videos, digital learning professionals can find graphics, audio files, and even games online.

Having access to these different types of media is an important benefit of multimedia learning. Educators and trainers no longer have to rely on textbooks and slide decks. But they now have the ability to leverage the varying types of multimedia learning resources that the internet provides.

5. Immersion opportunities

Providing learners the opportunity to utilise more of their senses enables them to really immerse themselves in the material. And this is one reason why multimedia learning can be such a beneficial method. As multimedia learning incorporates visuals and audio, it enables learners to explore the material hands on.

For example, if an instructor is teaching a lesson on space, they could put a list of facts about space on a PowerPoint slide. But they could also show images of galaxies seen through the Hubble Telescope. Which one do you think would be more memorable? 

However, while the breathtaking images of galaxies may be more engaging, this doesn’t mean that the lesson shouldn’t also incorporate text as well. Using visuals in addition to the text gives learners more context so that they can dive deeper into the material. For this reason, the potential for learners to immerse themselves in the material is a major benefit of multimedia learning.

Key takeaways

You should now be well familiarised with the myriad of benefits that multimedia learning provides. However, the potential of this method of instruction is only expected to increase. With the emergence of new types of learning technologies, such as virtual reality, the possibilities for digital learning professionals to use multimedia will further expand.

Even if you currently use different types of media in your instruction, staying ahead of the curve on the latest multimedia learning strategies and technologies will help you better meet your learning objectives

If you’re interested in learning more about how to incorporate more multimedia resources into your instruction, a Professional Diploma in Digital Learning Design can give you the training you need.