Reading Summaries

“Multimedia for Learning: Methods and Development (3rd Edition)”

Go to Chapter 1-3 Summary (due January 27)
Go to Chapter 12-13 Summary (due February 3)
Go to Chapter 14 Summary (due February 10)
Go to Chapter 15 Summary (due February 17)


What are the key ideas?

Chapter 1

Chapter 1, “Introduction”, gives a brief history of educational computing, followed by a discussion on the application of computer-based learning, and when it is appropriate. The model for the process of instruction is then defined as involving four phases of instruction:

  • Presenting Information
  • Guiding the Learner
  • Practicing
  • Assessing Learning

The chapter continues with a description of methodologies for facilitating learning, which includes:

  • Tutorials
  • Hypermedia
  • Drills
  • Simulations
  • Games
  • Tools and open-ended learning environments
  • Tests
  • Web-based learning

The chapter is summed up by stating, “education should include direct instruction methods, experimental methods, and others”.

Chapter 2

Chapter 2, “Learning Principles and Approaches”, gives a description and history on the different learning theories:

  • Behavioral
  • Cognitive
  • Constructivist

A focus is placed in multimedia design on certain aspects of cognitive theory, which are:

  • Perception and attention
  • Encoding
  • Memory
  • Comprehension
  • Active learning
  • Motivation
  • Locus of control
  • Mental models
  • Metacognition
  • Transfer of learning
  • Individual differences

The chapter continues by describing the major principles of constructivist theory, which are:

  • Learning versus teaching
  • Discovery learning
  • Construction
  • Situated learning and anchored instruction
  • Cooperative and collaborative learning
  • Autonomy, choice, and negotiation
  • Reflection and Strategic Thinking
  • Reflecting the complexity of the world
  • The constructivist influence on interactive multimedia design

Criticisms of the various theories are discussed, as are the implications for the use of multimedia and education software in learning.

Chapter 3

“General Features of Software for Learning” describes the factors involved with interactive multimedia. They are:

  • Introduction of the program
  • Learner control
  • Presentation of information
  • Providing help
  • Ending a program

For the introduction of a program, the following items must be addressed:

  • Title page
  • Directions
  • User identification

The learner control of a program involves:

  • What and how much control to provide the learner
  • The methods of control (i.e. buttons, menus, etc.)
  • The modes of control (i.e. mouse, keyboard, etc.)

The presentation of information can be in a variety of formats, and includes:

  • Text information
  • Graphics and animation
  • Video
  • Sound
  • Color

The step of providing help involves:

  • Always providing procedural help
  • Providing information help depending on the program’s purpose and methodology
  • Making help context-specific
  • Allowing a return to directions at all times
  • Providing help via rollovers for functions available at any particular time
  • Always having a help button or menu visible
  • Providing help in a print manual for starting a program (i.e. offline)

Ending a program will involve:

  • Safety nets (i.e. “exit” or “save” button)
  • Credits
  • A final message
  • Exiting the program

How do they relate to your project?

Chapter 3 stood out to me in particular as providing some good “how-to” information on laying out my project. My project is an Orientation Program that will be introducing people to a fair amount of information and instruction on a variety of subjects. Knowing how to organize all of this instruction in a logical and learnable way will be pretty important. Seeing what all the general features should be was very helpful.

What questions do you have after reading?

I do wonder how some of the content might be amended to reflect the changing face of technology and education as it stands today. I’m sure that basis for the learning theories and the basic outlines for how to construct instruction would remain intact. Much of the debate about computers and learning does seem particularly dated, especially the portion concerning presentation of information and modes of learner control. These aspects of multimedia have evolved so much in just the last 5 years (to say nothing of the last 15) that it’s a little ridiculous to think only in “keyboard versus mouse” terms.

CHAPTERS 12 – 13

What are the key ideas?

Chapter 13

Chapter 13, “Overview of a Model for Design and Development”, Alessi and Trollip venture into the layout of a design project, and the standards required for seeing it through to completing. They describe they’re approach to how to design multimedia, illustrating this by layout with: standards, ongoing evaluation, and project management. These are three attributes are the framework for the three phases of a project:

  1. Planning
  2. Design
  3. Development

Planning involves: defining the scope, identifying the learner characteristics, establishing the constraints of the project, producing a planning product, producing a style manual, collecting resources, brainstorming, defining the look and feel of the product, and a client sign-off.

Design involves: developing content ideas, conducting task and concept analyses, a preliminary program description, preparing a prototype, creating flowcharts and storyboards, preparing scripts, and a client sign-off.

Development involves: preparing text and program code; creating graphics, audio and video; assembling the pieces and support materials; an alpha test; revisions; a beta test; final revisions; client sign-off; and validation of the program.

The chapter provides forms to help facilitate the evaluation process as well.

Chapter 13

The “Planning” chapter provides a framework in which to map out an outline for a multimedia project. Planning is the foundation of the project, as everything will be built upon it’s principles. Defining the scope of the project involves determining just how big it will be, and just who will be learning the objectives within it (learner characteristics). A document is provided that explains the development process to the client (Figure 13.4). Establishing the project constraints covers a variety of factors: software and hardware constraints (i.e. software versions, operating systems, Mac/PC, etc.), budget and timelines, client/developer responsibilities, content and permissions (i.e. copyright). A constraints documents is also provided (Figure 13.5).

Cost of the project (closely related to budget) also comes into play, and is based on content acquisition, standards development, script writing, number of screens of the final product, underlying models for the project, graphics creating, audio/video, interactions, data collection, bookmarking, record keeping, log on and registration, associated EPSS, software testing, project management, clerical hours, packaging, manuals and instructions, travel and other out-of-pocket expense, overhead, taxes, and the project summary.

The planning document includes budget management and time/personnel management. This allows the designer to keep a record of the progress of the project, as well as the time spent developing the project.

A style manual establishes standards for the visual appearance of the project (i.e. color and fonts), including style conventions (i.e. grammar and language), and functionality (i.e. web-readiness, keyboard usage, etc.). Collection of resources is broken into three categories: resources relevant to the subject matter; to the instructional development and teaching process; and to the delivery system of the project. Brainstorming is, in the authors’ opinions, a central element to the process, and involves the creative powers of multiple people coming up with lots of ideas. In Alessi and Trollip’s words, “the more ideas you generate early in a project, the more likely it is that at least one of them will be an exceptionally good one.” Defining the look and feel of the project must be established early on, and involves producing a prototype in order to give the client an idea as to how the finished product will actually look and operate.

Finally, obtaining a client sign-off takes place iteratively over the course of the development of the project. This avoids disagreements about aspects of the development of the program too late in development, and incurring unnecessary cost and time delays.

How do they relate to your project?

Virtually every aspect of these two chapters touches on some part of my project’s development. Though I’m sure I won’t be employing every design tip and going through every stage described, it’s good to see a very thorough framework for proceeding with constructing a project. I can certainly see the design documentation (i.e. the Constraints Document, Figure 13.5) as being immensely helpful for me in developing my own project.

I’m currently in the “establishing learning objectives” phase, and going over the Evaluation Form (Figure 12.2) has already given me a sense of how to proceed, especially with pedagogy and content structure. My background as a print and graphic designer (both working for a private business and as a freelance contractor) has given me a lot of “street experience” with client interaction. But these tips and outlines will give me a good outline for digging deeper into a lot of topis and issues that I’ve never encountered before.

What questions do you have after reading?

As early on as I am currently in the development of my project, this material does raise a number of questions for me.

One is: how much detail should I go into for the learners? The nature of my project (new employee orientation for a rock band) is a little unique in that I’m constructing a formal orientation program for what is normally a very informal occupation. Most individual that work in rock bands are hired based on word of mouth, and gain much of their experience through “street smarts” as it were. No one in any band that I know of was hired because they filled out an application! This organization is a bit different in that it’s comprised of highly professional individuals, who do not necessarily have a rock band pedigree. Having said all that, some parts of the training will require a lot of detail that, to some other musicians, will seem incredibly tedious and redundant (i.e. “remember to bring your instrument to rehearsal”). I can see that some sort of learner evaluation will be needed in order to proceed.

Another question I have: what format should the training take? As an example, I’d like to include a video introduction by the client to the organization. But I haven’t decided precisely on how much other video I should include, if any. Much of the training could be done with a series of slides with audio voiceover accompaniment. This would certainly be the easiest approach. I’m also quite undecided on how much in the way of photos and graphics I will need.


What are the key ideas?

Chapter 13, “Design”, is a of the purpose of a designer in the creation of educational multimedia. The design acts as an architect, providing “the creative design and the visual and functional details” of the project, where other professionals (programmers, graphic artists, videographers, etc.) are in place to help facilitate and execute the finer points of the design.

Design is made up of these steps:

  • Conduct task/concept analysis
  • Do a preliminary program description
  • Prepare prototype
  • Create flowcharts/storyboards
  • Prepare scripts
  • Obtain client sign-off

The designer has two distinct roles: 1) design a program that achieves effective learning, and 2) production of documentation for everyone involved in the design process (including clients, project managers, teachers, graphic artists, and others).

The development of of content ideas involves brainstorming and eliminating initial ideas. Brainstorming is comprised of a session to come up with ideas about what information is to be learn, and one on how to facilitate the learning. In order to narrow down the ideas, these ideas are evaluated on the basis of:

  1. Characteristics of the learner population
  2. Relationship of ideas to subject matter and goals
  3. Amount of time needed to learn content
  4. Restrictions of delivery system
  5. Ability of production staff

Remaining ideas are then analyzed: task analysis looks at what the learner must do, while concept analysis will look at what the learner must understand.

A preliminary program description then integrates the instructional ideas through the use of a learning map. This map shows the learning types, a methodology, identification of procedures and required skills, factor decisions, and a description of the program sequence.

After the design has been communicated to everyone involved, the development of prototypes can begin. These act as a rough sketch or proof for the finished product, giving the client a sense of the look, feel, and methodology for the program. Also, a series of flowcharts can be employed to further describe every detail of the program, showing not just the sequence, indicating all of the component parts of the learning process. It is suggested to use a series of three flowcharts, which get increasingly more detailed and elaborate. Level 1 flowcharts are the most basic, and include the simplest depiction of what the program does. Level II symbolizes what the program will look like to the learner, and will include certain decision points. Level III shows the most detail, offering information that would be useful to a programmer, such as branching and subroutines. These flowcharts should be checked by dry-running the program to ensure that when the programmer receives the flowchart, they can input the information in such a way that they do not receive errors (logical or typographical).

Storyboards provide a visual of the program design, though they are limited for most web-based instructional programs. Storyboarding is divided into eight substeps:

  1. Write/revision of primary text
  2. Write/revision of secondary text
  3. Produce storyboard
  4. Draw/revise graphics and plan other output
  5. Review flowcharts/storyboards
  6. Expert review of flowcharts
  7. Expert/end-user review of storyboards
  8. Revisions

Review of flowcharts and storyboards should include:

  • Missing/incomplete directions
  • Lack of learner interaction
  • Topics inadequately discussed
  • Overlapping/overcrowded/poorly spaced displays
  • Seldom or never used displays
  • Redundant or irrelevant displays
  • Displays emphasize minor points
  • Question loops in which learners may get stuck
  • Poor transitions
  • Poor learner control, such as displays that cannot be reviewed
  • Text passages that could be enhanced with graphics

Discussed also are the writing of scripts for audio and video production, as well as ongoing evaluation of the various components of the project. Finally, a client sign-off is necessary before completion, and can be an iterative process that goes on through the duration of the project. This helps to cut down on project creep, or the gradual addition of small changes that exist outside the bounds of the contract. Project creep can become costly as it intrudes on the designer’s timetable, and it can add additional cost to the finished product.

How do they relate to your project?

Brainstorming will definitely be a useful tool for me at this stage in the development of my project. Due to scheduling conflicts, I have yet to have had the opportunity to meet with my client to discuss much of what will need to be covered in the program. As such, I’ll need to bounce a lot of ideas off of him in order to get a sense of the vision that he has for the program. So far, everything I’ve developed in the outline of the project were ideas that I came up with on my own, with no input from my client.

A task and concept analysis are also two things that will need to be developed, as these are probably the most important aspects of the program. My client needs the people that he hires to know what is expected of them, and for them to be prepared to do certain things after they’re hired. Detailing precisely what these tasks and concepts are is very important, as only the client knows what these things should be. Most of these expectations extend beyond the scope of “simply doing your job”, which in this case, is some form of musical performance.

What questions do you have after reading?

I do question the need for some of the documentation mentioned, especially in my particular situation. I’m not sure that it will be quite that necessary to develop design documents, since I will be personally be developing everything in the program. I do see the need for a flowchart, though perhaps not for a storyboard.


What are the key ideas?

Chapter 15 on “Development” deals with putting together all of the physical elements of the project. This would include preparing text, writing program code, creating graphics, producing audio and video, and assembling all of these pieces together. It also involves continuous evaluation in the form of alpha and beta testing, revisions, client sign-offs and validation.

Development is guided greatly by project management, which is comprised of organizing time and budget. A project manager helps coordinate those producing all of the content for the project, such as programmers, designers, script writers, and developers. The sample Project Management Chart (Figure 15.2) shows the flow of task deadlines for the course of a project. The Gantt Chart (Figure 15.3) gives a graphical display of the timetable for the same project. A management chart helps with setting a pace for development of all of the pieces of the project, thereby helping keep in within budget.

Preparing text is done through software, usually Microsoft Word or a similar word processor (Adobe Acrobat may also be used), and a variety of file formats can be used (.DOC, .RTF, .PDF). Programming can be done with Authorware or ToolBox, and be used with programming languages such as HTML, Java, or Visual Basic. The tools used depend greatly on the nature of the project. Graphics too may be developed with programs such as Adobe Illustrator or Freehand (used for vector-based graphics), or Corel Photo-Paint, Corel Draw or Photoshop for photos or other raster-based image editing. Animations can be developed with Director, Poser, or Flash.

Other production elements include video, which can be quite expensive. Three points about video mentioned are 1) how powerful it is, 2) cost versus quality, and 3) medium of delivery. Video editing options include Adobe Premiere, Final Cut Pro, and Adobe After Effect. Audio too is a very important component, as it can assist those who have difficulty reading, and sound effects can communicate things that can’t be discerned simply through text, such as singing and the sound of foreign languages. Editing software for audio includes Sound Forge, SoundEdit 16, and WaveLab.

Assembling the pieces, or assets as they’re called, is directed by the project manager, who ensures that all of the materials are delivered to the right members of the production team. The manager also handles the different versions of the project (version control), and they usually establish a protocol by which this control may be maintained (file naming conventions, assets log, etc.). Support material for a project will usually include:

  • Learner manuals
  • Instructor manuals
  • Technical manuals
  • Adjunct instructional material

Once assembled, the project goes to alpha testing (by the designers) and beta testing (by the client). Alpha testing occurs before going to the client, and should conform to the the style manual, and will test the project for look and feel, style conventions, and functionality; further, the evaluation form will test for:

  • Subject matter
  • Auxiliary information
  • Affective consideration
  • Interface
  • Navigation
  • Pedagogy
  • Invisible features
  • Robustness
  • Supplementary materials

Once revisions are made, a beta test of the final product is performed, and covers a seven-step process:

  • Select the learners
  • Explain the procedure
  • Find out how much of the subject matter they already know
  • Observe them going through the program
  • Interview them afterward
  • Assess their learning
  • Revise the program

Final revisions are done before obtaining a client sign-off. Once this is done, a summative evaluation is performed. The four levels of evaluation, as proposed by Donald Kirkpatrick, are:

  • Level 1 – Assessing Reaction and Attitude
  • Level 2 – Assessing Learning
  • Level 3 – Assessing Behavior Change in the Intended Environment
  • Level 4 – Assessing Results and Return on Investment

How do they relate to your project? What questions do you have?
I believe that there are certain development tools and processes that will be of particular importance to my project. Having a project management chart of some description, for one, will help guide me through the entire process. Because of the way I tend to work, having a workflow will be very helpful, though I don’t think that I’ll use something with quite the level of detail seen in Figure 15.2. My client has a incredibly busy schedule, as do I, so having deadlines for certain tasks will be important. Also, preparing alpha and beta tests will clearly be of benefit. The nature of my project will likely go through a number of alpha tests before going to the client. I anticipate a fair amount of content (video, audio voiceover, graphics, music clips, weblinks, etc.), so that will require some testing.

Again, the age of the publication was showing more than usual in this chapter on account of the description of software tools. Describing software programs used in 1999 is pretty laughable today. Also, I noticed that the focus on video delivery to be not nearly the concern that it would be now, given the ubiquity of mobile devices and web video content.


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