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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Multimedia and the Brain

This article from eSchoolNews this week is most intriguing - it's about a meta review of studies (kind of a research mash-up) from the Metiri Group commissioned by Cisco on how "multimodal learning" using various strategies including multimedia, works better for learning than unimodal, more traditional learning. It talks about sensory, working and long-term memory, and includes references to Bransford's How People Learn among other works. The Bransford work was the basis of Chapter 8 in my book written by Dr. Donna DeGennaro synthesizing a lot of Bransford's ideas.

One thing I really like if you read the entire study "Multimodal Learning Through Media: What the Research Says," is the specifity of the recommendations. Every instructional designer ought to be reading this because it says where text and graphics should be placed on a page for maximum understanding, for instance. Maybe designers already are reading it, I don't know. But there still are plenty of applications that haven't really taken how the brain is stimulated into consideration when creating their interfaces. It's also a great answer to the critics of "edutainment" - motivation, engagement, multimodal learning and brain research all point to interactivity and visual appeal as integral to effectiveness. Of course lots of good teachers pretty much knew this viscerally anyway. But good that it's all pulled together in an accessible and well-written way.

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