How multimedia can improve learning

Research sheds light on students’ ability to process multiple modes of learning

brain-multimedia-learningAn analysis of existing research supports a notion that already has begun to transform instruction from coast to coast: that multimodal learning–using many modes and strategies that cater to individual learners’ needs and capacities–is more effective than traditional, unimodal learning, which uses a single mode or strategy.

According to a report commissioned by Cisco Systems, adding visuals to verbal (textual and/or auditory) instruction can result in significant gains in basic or higher-order learning, if applied appropriately. Students using a well-designed combination of visuals and text learn more than students who use only text, the report says.

It also provides insights into when interactivity strengthens the multimodal learning of moderate to complex topics, and when it’s advantageous for students to work individually when learning.

“There is a lot of misinformation circulating about the effectiveness of multimodal learning,” said Charles Fadel, Cisco’s global education leader. “As curriculum designers embrace multimedia and technology wholeheartedly, we considered it important to set the record straight, in the interest of the most effective teaching and learning.”

(Next page: How students learn)