Watch Mayer’s talk on multimedia instruction (2016).

Consider this question – what do you find interesting about his principles of multimedia instruction and how you may consider applying those principles in your own design and development work?

I’m honestly not sure how I feel about these principles. I’m just going to give each a quick rundown.

  • Coherence Principle – People learn better when extraneous words, pictures and sounds are excluded rather than included.
    • Honest first take? Duh. You shouldn’t have a bunch of extraneous stuff on slides, how would that ever help? I think this most likely stems from the dawn of PowerPoint Word/Clip Art where a picture was just dropped on a slide because it could. I sometime find this happening still when there is a presentation that features things like the below. In my opinion, this is almost always due to an improper use of text on a slide, either improper font, spacing, kerning, or too much text.
Related image
  • Signaling Principle – People learn better when cues that highlight the organization of the essential material are added.
    • I’ve had mixed experience with this because I think it’s actually quite annoying when every necessary click point is highlighted with some type of After Effects crosshair or something. I think proper signaling can occur with even just different use of colors in menus, or even different shadings and opacities.
  • Redundancy Principle – People learn better from graphics and narration than from graphics, narration and on-screen text.
    • I think I would tend to agree, but in my work I deal with a significant amount of non-native English speakers so the words really help them pace the content of the lesson.
  • Spatial Contiguity Principle – People learn better when corresponding words and pictures are presented near rather than far from each other on the page or screen.
    • I think I’d put this in the duh category as well, like with Coherence.
  • Temporal Contiguity Principle – People learn better when corresponding words and pictures are presented simultaneously rather than successively.
    • Fully agree here. We use this principle all of the time in our technical training applications. Recently we’ve been experimenting with Augmented Reality on maintenance operations and one of the methods we’ve been employing is the appearance of the textual name of a component or assembly being displayed in the headset when the learner looks at the specific component. The basic premise is they are seeing the real thing and being prompted with the actual name simultaneously, so later when a mechanic is troubleshooting or ordering a part they already have a mental image of what the component/assembly looks like.
  • Segmenting Principle – People learn better from a multimedia lesson is presented in user-paced segments rather than as a continuous unit.
    • Again, fully agree here, I cannot even image what our course materials would be like if you had to play it all the way though all in one sitting.
  • Pre-training Principle – People learn better from a multimedia lesson when they know the names and characteristics of the main concepts.
    • That people will learn better with knowledge of the main concepts prior to taking the lesson is essentially schema theory, which I’d say is pretty well established in the literature.
  • Modality Principle – People learn better from graphics and narrations than from animation and on-screen text.
    • Along with many of my peers I think this might be the toughest of Meyer’s principles. Perhaps it’s because on-screen means so much more now then it did when Meyer first considered these principles. With the advent of blogs, Facebook, and Twitter, which are all mostly text based interactions, I’d say it be tough to say that word on screens and short animations like memes and gifs are not an effective means of conveying information.
  • Multimedia Principle – People learn better from words and pictures than from words alone.
    • I agree. Something I’ve told my developers often is to take the phrase “a picture says a thousand words” literally. It’s a way to control for the coherence principle while also making good on the multimedia principle. It forces the designer to think about what the picture is saying, does it say 200 words worth of info or should we just right 200 words of copy?
  • Personalization Principle – People learn better from multimedia lessons when words are in conversational style rather than formal style.
    • I’d say so long as the learner is expecting that type of tone, then yes. Some people show up to a class or an e-learning module and they are expecting formal instructional words. This chalks up to knowing your audience and speaking accordingly.
  • Voice Principle – People learn better when the narration in multimedia lessons is spoken in a friendly human voice rather than a machine voice.
    • Another in the obvious category I’d say, no one wants the terminator teaching them computer programming.
  • Image Principle – People do not necessarily learn better from a multimedia lesson when the speaker’s image is added to the screen.
    • I agree for the most part, I think it might depend on the message though. I listen to many podcasts and I’ve learned maybe more from Radiolab than maybe anywhere else in the world. But I’ve also learned quite a bit by watching and listening to Ted Talks. I think seeing the passion and body language on Ted Talks often lead to profound experiences which I’d say increase my retention of the material over time.