E-learning concepts - Table of Content


in education

Aims of learning Learning objective

When you have completed this session, you should be able to
  • define term "multichannel mediation",
  • list the work phases in multimedia development,
  • list the competences needed for multimedia development,
  • estimate the costs associated with educational multimedia,
  • identify your own potential role in educational multimedia development.

Reading Reading

One of the key quoted features of multimedia is that it: conveys a message through several channels at a time using information aimed at several sense organs (though listening and seeing, for example) simultaneously.

Research has shown that if we use several organs of perception at the same time, we are able to process more “data” per unit time so the intensity of learning through multimedia can improve. On average men are able to remember 20% of information heard, 30% of information seen and 50% of information simultaneously heard and seen, but the best result (80%) can be achieved if we see, hear and need to “act” during a lesson.

Educational multimedia - multimedia software - offers instructional designers a range of opportunities to involve the learner intensively with the learning process , including the potential of choosing a personal learning path. It is individual vision and ability that limits the range of possible integrated interactions , including quizzes, problem solving activities, special simulations and animations, etc. All should, however, also require action of the part of the learners. The terms 'interactivity' originated from computer technology, refering to human-computer communication through the specific user interfaces and interactions with software systems. The terms has a special, extended meaning related to educational multimedia because interactivity - shifting the learner's role from observer to participant - is a dominant factor in the improvement of the effectivness of the learning process.


In spite of the overhyped expectations of e-learning developments in the 90s - focused mainly on educational multimedia - the expected impacts have not been realized: e-learning based on multimedia solutions has not been able to revolutionize education. The educational world is now over this first period of euphoria, and over the 'e-learning hype', but many teachers are now skeptical of the real demand for educational multimedia, and about its effectiveness for improving learning processes in schools. Multimedia CD development -- heavily promoted in the 1990s -- did not manage to integrate e-learning methods into the pedagogical practices of schools, even in front-runner countries. (2)

What is the problem with the multimedia?

In a Hungarian comparative study (Nádasi, 2002) the efficiency of different media in learning produced results worth noting:

  • Neither the 'traditional' or electronic media was proven to be significantly better than the other in terms of efficiency of learning/teaching.
  • Each medium carries a specific (additional) opportunity, but it can be exploited only in a well-determined learning environment -- one appropriate to the given medium.
  • The efficiency of learning depends to a great extent on how much the teaching material is in harmony with the specific features of the delivery medium.
  • Not all teaching materials can be presented effectively through every medium.
  • When selecting the delivery medium, and from an efficiency viewpoint, it is essential to consider the learner’s age, abilities and cognitive level , as well as the way a teacher uses the given tools.
  • A perfectly elaborated medium, which has already proven to be effective, can be used badly.

According to a national survey (K. Radnóti, 2006), only 54% of Hungarian teachers think that it is worth integrating multimedia into lessons; 21% think it may be useful at times, and 20% of teachers said there was no justification at all to use multimedia in education.

Why is this? Are there specific problems with educational multimedia?


"Multimedia will provoke radical changes in the teaching during the coming decides, particularly as smart students discover they can go beyond the limits of traditional teaching methods. Indeed, in some instances teachers may become more like guides and mentors along the learning path, not the primary providers of information and understanding - the students, not teachers, become the core of teaching and learning process.This is a sensitive, highly-politicized subject among educators, so educationla software is often positioned as "enriching" the learning process, not as a potential substitute for traditional teacher-based methods." (Tay Vaughan, 1994)


“After an initial period of enthusiasm, often described as ‘hype’, there are growing doubts about the real demand for educational e-content, and about its relevance for improving learning” (European Commission, 2002). "Learning is based on motivation, and without teachers that motivation would cease to exist. (Educating the Net Generation, 2005) “Despite the considerable efforts undertaken, the eLearning sector is still fragmented and there are many open questions on how to exploit the potential of ICT in education and training. A broad partnership between the various stakeholders of industry, education and training, public sector and civil society is needed for Europe to reap the full benefits of ICT and learning in the knowledge society.” (A review of studies of ICT impact on schools in Europe, European Schoolnet, 2006)


“Open-endedness and flexible combinations of text, graphics, video and audio therefore are the key stepping stones to enabling e-Learning design to become easier. Designers need to be the creators envisioned by Weizenbaum in the early 1980s, exploring with curiosity and supported by multidimensional ways of working with information.” (B. Holmes and J. Gardner)


"Obviously it is easier for a student to understand the conformation of ciklohexane in the chemistry lesson if it is presented in 3D format. However, by doing this we might as well remove one small “brick” from the student’s development instead of “building” and promoting understanding. Instead of trying to imagine and understand the position of the binding angles in space, the student sits and waits for feeding his brain with an easily understandable pulp. If the student’s space perception does not develop and the ability to imagine the position of atoms in space regresses, his chances are considerably reduced to be able to imagine the structure of a crystal lattice (just to take another example from chemistry in order to draw your attention to the problem). Naturally students can survive by using several mass-produced mental “crutches” and artificial legs until the end of their high school studies, but this way of learning and teaching cannot be considered normal…” (G. Hanczár, 2007)

Pedagogical and psychological approaches are given special emphasis in the development of educational multimedia. Multimedia software should also pay particular attention to ergonomic requirements. It is relatively simple to determine whether particular material deserves to be classified as “educational multimedia”: if it does not utilize opportunities offered by modern technology in order to promote understanding, materials are merely an example of simple demonstration tools. This poses the question: how difficult is it to meet learning expectations for educational multimedia?

Development of educational multimedia - what does it mean? MMProject

Proper development of multimedia needs the collaboration of several experts within a well-managed project framework. Depending on the pedagogical aims, the project's size and the subject, the project work is generally a team effort that may requirie the participation of instructional designers, content developers, editors, multimedia designers, (graphic artists, animators), interface designers, video producers (camcorders, film editors), musicians, audio engineers and software engineers. So the development may require experience of producing traditional textbooks, but could also require the craft of the motion picture industry and the software industry. The main stages of an average multimedia project are:

  • planning and costing,
  • designing and producing,
  • testing,
  • delivery.

Similarly to the production of a film, in the design phase creative plans, manuscripts, and storyboards should be prepared. The media elements (pictures, graphics, musics, sound effects, narratives, video clips should be produced, with a high quality. When integrated, the resulting system -- which may be quite complex -- should be an interactive presentation with high visual and semantic consistency.

"Now computers can be television-like, book-like and 'like themselves'. Today's commercial trends in educational and home markets are to make them as television-like as possible. And the weight of the billions of dollars behind these efforts is likely to be overwhelming. It is sobering to realize that in 1600, 150 years after the invention of the printing press, the top two bestsellers in the British Isles were the Bible and astrology books! Scientific and political ways of thinking were just starting to be invented. The real revolutions take a very long time to appear, because as McLuhan noted, the initial content and values in a new medium are always taken from old media." (Alan Kay, 1996.)

To answer the question posed at the start, some of the problems can be explained by the fact that in early dvelopments the concept of 'multimedia' was not thoroughly elaborated, particularly as the complexity of the theme was greater than first thought. There is no doubt that educational multimedia -- with attractive, visually consistent animation, simulation games, with pedagogically validated interactivity -- will play an important role among the toolkits that teachers will use in this information era, but there is a need to be aware of some facts:

  • development is very expensive,
  • that low quality multimedia can do more harm than good,
  • not all teaching subjects are suitable for presentation as a multimedia.

In this 'e-learning 2.0' period we are over the missconception that only educational multimedia can provide relevant pedagogical tools that meet the expectations of the information society, and hence that we should develop all learning content in the form of multimedia animation and simulations.

While web 2.0 tools for networked learning and online collaborations are coming to the fore, multimedia remains important, but not as the 'king' of the e-learning space, but as one of the educational tools which can be applied in relevant situations by teachers.

"This new kind of "dynamic media" is possible to make today, but very hard and expensive. Yet it is the kind of investment that a whole country should be able to understand and make. I still don't think it is a real substitute for growing up in a culture that loves learning and thinking. But in such a culture, such new media would allow everyone to go much deeper, in more directions, and experience more ways to think about the world than is possible with the best books today. Without such a culture, such media are likely to be absolutely necessary to stave off the fast-approaching next Dark Ages." (Alan Kay, 1996.)

The role of teachers in development

As we have seen the roles within multimedia development generally involve professionals from the motion picture industry, from the software industries , and from other creative areas. Multimedia development is not a personal venture (albeit Leonardo da Vinci was scientist, architect, creative designer and poet folded into one!).

However educational multimedia cannot be sucessful without the experience of teachers. Teachers should be present in the developments, as instructional designer, author, pedagogical or methodological experts.

In e-learning 2.0 the focus hass moved to applications for sharing small electronic educational resources - learning objects - prepared for special pedagogical aims. Learning Objects can be published and shared through the social networks, and among the self organized online social communities of teachers. Web 2.0 tools offer a very different paradigm to that of the large multimedia systems with their complicated publication development paths. Now teachers can construct valuable repositories, storing a large numbers of small educational elements and offering opportunities for teachers students an outlet for their creativity.

Let's try it!Exercises

1. Please record your opinion, in your learning diary, about educational multimedia you have already used in your pedagogical work!

For this course we have established social bookmarks for sharing links related to the topics discussed in the lessons. The website of the bookmarks: http://www.diigo.com/user/tenegen. Please extend the lists with links to online educational multimedia you think is worth sharing with us. (To enter a new bookmark you need to login with the account details of user: tenegen, pasword: netgen555.)

2. Do you have creative students who are experienced in creating digital pictures, editing videos and digital sounds? If yes, would you (could you) involve him or her in your development? What do you think about the future: could members of the net generation ever take part in the teachers' pedagogical work as creative partners?


1. A. Nádasi: Educational technology and tools, ELTE, Budapest, 2002.
2. Werner B. Korte, Tobias Hüsing: Benchmarking Access and Use of ICT in European Schools, Empirica, 2006, http://www.empirica.biz/empirica/publikationen/documents/No08-2006_learnInd.pdf
3. Z. Kerber: Bridges between the subjects National Institute for Public Education, Budapest, 2006, K. Radnóti: What kind of assessment methods are preferred by the teachers in the Hungarian schools?
5. G. Hanczár: What is the problem with the Multimedia? New Pedagogical Journal, 2. issue, Budapest, 2007.
6. Theodore Roszak: The Cult of Information: The Folklore of Computers and the True Art of Thinking,1986.
7. B. Holmes and J. Gardner: e-Learning- Concepts and Practice, SAGE Publications, London, Thousand Oaks, New Delhi, 2006.
8. Alan Kay: Revealing the Elephant: The Use and Misuse of Computers in Education, Educom review, 1996.
9. Educating the Net Generation, edited by Diana G. Oblinger and James L. Oblinger, 2005 EDUCAUSE, http://www.educause.edu/educatingthenetgen