Multimedia is a combination of text, graphics, animation, audio and video that are all we can see and hear in our daily lives. This term also refers to the uses of computer technology to create, store, and experience multimedia content. Multimedia applications play a crucial role in education, ranging from preschool to graduate students to corporate training packages leading to Multimedia Learning. They can be defined as an application that uses a combination of many media sources such as text, graphics, audios, videos, and animations. It is often used to deliver information that is more powerful than print learning resources, such as print textbooks. It also allows users to interact with information quickly and accurately.

Educational multimedia applications allow students to obtain information in various formats. Examples of multimedia applications are World Wide Web, courses, interactive TV, computer games and virtual reality. In education, the multimedia application is used to provide computer-based training courses and reference books such as the encyclopedia. A computer-based training course allows students to go through a series of presentations, texts on a particular topic in various information formats. Teachers and professors use multimedia applications to transmit information such as lecture slides, assessment materials, and other learning resources. Students can also use it to learn new skills and knowledge without the guidance of teachers.

What is Multimedia Learning?

Multimedia learning occurs when a student constructs a mental representation from the words and images that have been presented. Multimedia teaching messages are presentations of material with words and images intended to promote learning. Images can be static graphics like photos, drawings, maps, charts, figures and tables or dynamic graphics like video or animation. Multimedia learning occurs if one constructs a mental representation of the ray system based on the words and images in the multimedia instruction message. In this case, one must build a cause and effect model of how a change in one part of the system causes a principle-based change elsewhere, and so on.

Why Should You Use Multimedia Design Theory?

Multimedia learning describes learning through the use of pictures and words. Examples of multimedia learning include watching a PowerPointpresentation, watching a prerecorded lecture, or reading a physics textbook.

Multimedia principle

The multimedia principle serves as the basis for the theory of multimedia design. This principle affirms that the deepest learning occurs from words and images that only from words. However, simply adding pictures or graphics to words does not guarantee a deeper level of learning. Multimedia instructional content is more likely to create a meaningful learning experience if the content is developed with the following cognitive science assumptions in mind:

Assumption of active processes: Active learning involves carrying out a coordinated set of cognitive processes during learning.

Dual Channel Assumption:Dual channels, one for visual / pictorial processing and one for auditory / verbal processing.

Limited capacity assumption:Each channel has limited capacity for processes.

Work memory

Working memory is the part of memory that consciously processes information. Working memory is severely limited (see Memory and learning). Because much of the instructional content presented to students is novel, teachers must remember the limitations of working memory when designing instructional materials. Lessons developed with the limitations of student working memory in mind are more likely to be effective than lessons developed without them. For example, if you provide students with written instructions for small group activities, rather than simply giving instructions once, students will not need to remember the instructions while working.

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Cognitive load

A problem that can arise when words and pictures are presented together is a situation called cognitive overload. In this scenario, the processing demands associated with the learning task exceed the student’s cognitive processing capacity. There are three types of cognitive load: strange, intrinsic, and related. Poor instructional design can increase each of these.

Strange cognitive load

This type of cognitive burden results when students are asked to use working memory for tasks other than the primary learning objective. Such designs cannot direct working memory resources toward schematic construction and automation. From the example above, students should use the working memory to remember the instructions for the small group activity, instead of focusing on the key concepts that the faculty just taught.

Intrinsic cognitive load

This type of cognitive load is the result of the inherent complexity of the information that must be processed. For example, understanding a complex equation that includes Greek symbols means that the student must be able to remember and keep track of the mathematical meaning of each symbol. Instructional design cannot eliminate the intrinsic burden, but teachers must realize that they have automated many skills and concepts that students must still use working memory to understand and process.

Relevant cognitive load

This type of cognitive load is the result of a learning effort, which leads to the production and automation of schemas. This is different from the intrinsic load, which is the inherent work involved in the task, while the relevant cognitive load is the work involved in learning the task. For example, a multiplication problem has the same intrinsic load for a fifth-grade student and a teacher, but a higher cognitive load for the young student who is learning more from homework.

Nine ways to reduce cognitive load in multimedia learning

By presenting multimedia content to students, teachers can take certain measures to reduce cognitive load and help ensure effective transmission of material. Mayer (2003) describes nine specific strategies to reduce the cognitive load of multimedia presentations:


Move some of the essential processing from the visual canal to the auditory canal, or vice versa, if too much verbal explanation is given. Learning is most effective when information is presented as audio rather than text on the screen.


Take the time to pause between small segments of content so that students have time to process the information. Learning is most effective when a lesson is presented in small pieces rather than continuous entity


Include relevant names and characteristics of system components. Learning is best when students know the names and behaviors of various components of the system.


Remove strange, albeit interesting, material. Learning is more effective without the inclusion of extraneous information. However, at least one study has shown that up to 50% of extra foreign material does not harm student performance if it is interesting or motivating.


Include directions on how to process the material to avoid processing foreign material. Learning is most effective when cues are included. For example, add instructions on how to move through a system diagram that does not have a clear linear path.


Place written words near corresponding graphics to reduce the need for visual scanning. Learning is most effective when the words are placed near the corresponding parts of the image.

Eliminate redundancy

Do not present identical sequences of spoken or written words. Learning is most effective when information is presented as audio rather than audio and text on the screen. For example, don’t read your PowerPoint slides to students.


Present audio and corresponding images simultaneously. Learning is most effective when images and narration are presented simultaneously rather than successively.


Make sure students have skills to maintain mental representations.

Benefits of multimedia learning

Deeper understanding

According to research, a benefit of multimedia learning is that it takes advantage of the brain’s ability to make connections between verbal and visual representations of content, leading to deeper understanding, which in turn supports the transfer of learning to other situations. All of this is important in today’s 21st century classrooms as we are preparing students for a future where high-level thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration skills will be required.

Improved troubleshooting

A large percentage of the human brain is dedicated to visual processing. Therefore, the use of images, videos, and animations in conjunction with text stimulates the brain. The attention and retention of the students increase. Under these circumstances, in a multimedia learning environment, students can more easily identify and solve problems compared to the scenario where teaching is possible only by textbooks.

Increased positive emotions

According to psychologist Barbara Fredrickson, experiencing positive emotions makes people see more possibilities in their lives. The use of multimedia during the instructions affects the student’s mood during the learning process. With a positive attitude, they learn better and tend to be more proactive.

Access to a wide variety of information

With computers, tablets, smartphones, and the Internet, students today are better equipped than ever to search and find the information they need. A study revealed that 95% of students who have internet access use it to search for information online. Sharing information and participating in class discussions is done more safely when access to information is as easy as today.

World exploration

With the help of multimedia material, students can explore and learn about places they never would have been in. In a geography class, participants can explore different cities in the world, the highest mountains and the most dangerous jungles, for example. Taken together, multimedia learning environments have a direct effect on learning and even growth as a person. An effect that differs and cannot be achieved as easily while using traditional educational materials. Therefore, it is no wonder that the edtech business is increasing and schools increasingly want to create multimedia learning environments for their students.


Multimedia applications are an excellent tool for educational purposes. You can improve the effectiveness of the learning outcome by delivering the information to students. Multimedia applications can be used to deliver information in an interesting way by combining the elements of texts, images, audios, videos, animations and user control. Multimedia applications have many advantages for educational purposes that can help students better understand certain information or topics. Screen design, interaction and feedback, navigation, video and audio elements are the characteristics of multimedia applications.

There is no doubt that multimedia applications can be used as a tool to help teachers and professors achieve educational effectiveness. However, multimedia applications for educational purposes also have their disadvantages. The development of a good multimedia application has a high cost that implies time and effort of the developer. There are few features of a developer trying to improve the effectiveness of educational multimedia applications that attract students’ attention, help them organize information, and facilitate lesson navigation and integrate all information into knowledge.


Kalyuga, S., Ayres, P., Chandler, P., & Sweller, J. (2003). The expertise reversal effect. Educational Psychologist, 38(1), 23–31.

Mayer, R. E. (2005). The Cambridge handbook of multimedia learning. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Mayer, R. E. (2009). Multimedia learning. New York: Cambridge University Press.

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