Computer and pencils on a desk
Multimedia learning

How does learning happen?: The Theory of Multimedia Learning

  • Learning happens in working memory, which has a very small capacity. Overloading working memory demotivates a learner.
  • Working memory has two channels, one for images, and the other for words (spoken and written). The load experienced in each channel is separate, so e.g. if no images are used, that available space is simply wasted, it can’t be reassigned to cope with an overload in text.
  • Three kinds of processing can occur in working memory:
    o   Being distracted
    o   Selecting what is important
    o   Connecting new pieces of knowledge with one another and with prior knowledge  

So how should we teach?: Presentation principles

  • Reduce distractions:
    o   Exclude irrelevant items
    o   Use a picture with either written, or spoken (preferably) text, not both
    o   Place corresponding words and pictures close together
    o   Present pictures and associated text simultaneously
  • Aid selection of key items:
    o   Highlight important items
    o   Indicate the hierarchy of items
    o   Explain key terms up-front
    o   Divide presentation into manageable, coherent, sections
  • Aid connection of knowledge items:
    o   Speak, don’t read
    o   Vary the pace, tone, expression and volume of your voice, for an interesting, conversational style that draws attention to meaning   |   University of the Free State South Campus   |   +27 51 451 1024 / +27 78 508 0848


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Open Distance and E-learning Programmes
Deborah Pietersen
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Short Learning Programmes
Keneilwe Mogotsi

Kovsie Phahamisa Academy

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