1. Multimedia
2. Interactive Multimedia
3. Hypermedia
4. Multimedia and E-Learning
5. Examples of Multimedia
resource.JPG Resources (Rated by out editors)


In today’s advanced and technology adapted society, the concept of multimedia is ever present in many facets of life. Multimedia can be termed as the “use of several different type of media (e.g. text, audio, graphics, animation, video and interactivity) to convey information” (Wikipedia, 2006). Furthermore, it is important to recognise that multimedia involves the use of computers to “present text, graphics, video, animation and sound in an integrated way” (Webopedia, 2006).

Multimedia can include a range of formats from a simple PowerPoint slide show to a complex interactive simulation (Learning Circuits) and in most cases is believed to enhance user experience and result in easier and faster understanding of the information presented. The concept of presenting information in various formats is not a new phenomenon, however when reviewing this concept in terms of multimedia it generally implies presenting information in various ‘digital’ formats (Wikipedia, 2006).

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Interactive multimedia can be defined as a “..two-way interaction with multimedia course material, another computer, or another user with direct response to the input, as opposed to one-way communication from T.V, video, and other non-responsive media” (Cybermedia Creations, 2005). There are certain characteristics and technologies that assist in creating an interactive environment, some of these include, “mouse input, touch screens, voice commands, video capture and real-time interaction” (Cybermedia Creations, 2005).

Interactive multimedia involves using applications that allow users to actively participate in courses and activities rather than being passive recipients of information (Wikipedia, 2006). From this it can be inferred that interactive multimedia allows participants to be engaged in the learning process, as they make their own decisions regarding what and when different components will be delivered throughout the course. Some important phrases utilised in the context of interactive multimedia are ‘linear’ and ‘non-linear’.

A linear multimedia product describes when learners do not take part in the process but rather sit back and watch, it can be stated that an example of this is watching a DVD. A non-linear multimedia product is when learners are provided with control and can navigate their way through the multimedia product themselves; this allows the process to be very interactive. It would appear that from these definitions and information that, interactive multimedia is required to allow learners feel in control throughout the learning process. It can be stated that this will positively affect their experiences in the course because they are making the decisions of what happens next.

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The concept of hypermedia can be described as “a multimedia system in which related items of information are connected and can be presented together” (Wordnet). “HyperMedia is a term used for hypertext (text which is not constrained to be linear) which is not constrained to be text: it can include graphics, video and sound” (What Is).

These definitions result in the understanding that hypermedia describes whereas multimedia possesses hyperlinks and links to information which discuss similar ideas. It provides for a network of information that can be accessed at the learners own leisure and allows for greater flexibility and interactivity throughout the learning experience. It is assumed that hypermedia is a non-linear approach to multimedia, as learners are given control through the provision of different links to a variety of information, “[Hypermedia] can be considered as a web of interrelated information in which the user is in complete control of the pace and sequence, and to a certain extent, the choice of content of the presentation” (Warp Studio, 2000).

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With the extensive use of e-Learning in education it is necessary to reflect on the importance and usage of multimedia in today’s e-Learning context. Multimedia is now considered to play a major role in adding variety and interaction to e-Learning courses, which therefore enhances and facilitates the learning process (Staffordshire University, 2005). In an e-Learning context, multimedia is being used in the production of ‘computer-based training courses’ (CBTs) which allow users to navigate through a series of presentations, involving text about the particular topic, and associated illustrations in different information formats (Wikipedia).

Multimedia has provided organizations with the opportunity to improve the quality of their training and according to Troupin (2000) this was an “unexpected result of the multimedia revolution”. Furthermore multimedia, when compared with other mediums, provides greater flexibility and therefore positively enhances the online learning experience for users. Greater flexibility is achieved by multimedia’s provisions for allowing learner navigation through the material. It would therefore appear that multimedia allows for the customisation of learning for different participants. For more information and an example regarding this concept visit: Training Multimedia.

Furthermore, multimedia is advantageous to e-Learning as it allows courses to be continually updated, that is, “the great thing about multimedia is that it consists of a large number of individual files - video clips, audio files, graphics, etc. - any one of which can be deleted or replaced” (Training Multimedia). Through the ability to easily and effectively update multimedia, it allows e-Learning courses to be constantly adapted to suit changes that may be occurring in the industry.

Finally, in today’s e-Learning context, it is important to ensure that learners are engaged throughout the learning process. Multimedia assists in this process, as it is a “fully participative medium” and demands more of its users (Training Multimedia). Due to multimedia involving the integration of different mediums, it forces learners to engage different senses when undertaking a learning course. Not only are learners expected to read text, but they may be required to listen to audio, view animations and/or watch videos which although may sound confusing results in a participatory learning experience that engages a multitude of senses.

From this it can be inferred that the utilisation of multimedia in an e-Learning context will result in a lasting impact on learners and hopefully a greater retention of the information taught. Studies have been conducted that prove the advantages of multimedia in relation to knowledge retention and recall. It has been founded that training programs that require learners to simply listen to training normally result in low levels of “recall and knowledge retention (25%)”, as compared to programs that combine both text and audio which are proved to yield a higher recall rate. Training programs that utilise a mix of hearing, seeing and interacting elements in training methods and materials result in the highest recall and knowledge retention rates (75%) (Cybermedia Creations, 2005). Therefore from these studies it can be concluded that multimedia training programs are of benefit to e-Learning as they create an “engaging learning environment that can train people consistently and with higher learning retention” (Cybermedia Creations, 2005).

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When reviewing any website or learning course that embraces multimedia, there will always be mixed reactions amongst the audience. Many will like the design and style of the multimedia whilst others may dislike it and not connect with what is presented. It is important to understand there will be differences in opinions and to understand and acknowledge these.

Visit the following websites and take a look at the uses of multimedia, also review the perceptions below of peoples’ reactions to the sites:

Following are the views of some of our editors regarding some of the websites provided above:

5.1 Adrworkshops

Stephanie rates this site 4/5:
“When reviewing this website the skills of negotiation were tested. Multimedia was demonstrated throughout the entire experience and participants were expected to not only review text but also listen to audio whilst undertaking the course. Therefore, more than one sense was engaged which allowed for greater retention of what was occurring in the situation. The animations of the different people viewed throughout the course were effective because they were human-like, rather than too ‘cartooney’, therefore allowing the audience to take them seriously. Learners were engaged constantly in the course and were expected to think and concentrate throughout.”

5.2 Carngie Hall

Rhiannon rates this site 3/5:
“The website followed an interactive step-by-step approach with each module of music advancing and building on the other, in effect allowing the new concepts that were being introduced to the learner to be synthesised and related to old ones. There were short tests after the music had been listened to (again great for reinforcement). The combined use of written material, pictures, sound and the overall effective use of colour is suited to a number of different learning styles such as theorist (make meaning of new information) visual (demonstration) aural (provision of sound) and activist (energising learners by providing learning experiences in a “dramatic” context). The experience of the Dvorak Symphony reinforced to me the scope of multimedia technologies to enhance learning and ultimately allow the learner to achieve a course’s learning outcomes.

In this way, I feel that there is great instructional value to come from multimedia. From a cognitive learning perspective (the perspective to which I subscribe), the advantage of integrating text and graphics results from a reduced need from the learner’s perspective to search for which parts of a graphic correspond to which words, thus allowing the learner to concentrate on their understanding of the materials presented.”

Stephanie rates this site 3/5:
This website was interactive and demonstrated typical multimedia characteristics of engaging more than one sense. Audiences were provided with text and experienced audio in the form of classical music. This website told the story of different musicians and music through the use of written text and audio of the songs discussed. Although this website was interactive and demonstrated the use of multimedia, unless a person was interested in classical music they will not really like it.

5.3 BBC

Stephanie rates this site 3/5:
“The BBC website provides a multitude of educational information and uses classic examples of multimedia. The specific Victorian Times game was fun and allowed for an understanding of what it was like to live in the Victorian Times, therefore the audience was able to learn something new. This game used animation and text and although it demonstrated multimedia, it seemed like an impossible game to complete which was not very rewarding. This experience was enjoyable, however does not suit all learning styles because it is believed that there was too much text to read.”

5.4 How Stuff Works

Rhiannon rates this site 4/5:
“The website had provisions for learner experimentation with the inclusion of links- allowing the material to follow a progressive sequence but only with the learner managing the transitions. In an example of hypermedia, through the navigational/exploratory aspects of the course, the learner was able to make their own connections about the concept being examined.”

Stephanie rates this site 4/5:
This is a very educational website and like the title will suggest, it shows people how different things work. The specific example of how a toilet flushes is very simple and allows the audience to clearly see and understand how a toilet flushes. Through visual animation, learners are shown different parts of a toilet and what aspects allow the toilet to flush. This website is very interactive and clear it is instructions of how things work.

5.5 Cadre

Rhiannon rates this site 4.5/5:
“The website encouraged the learner to use a number of facets of multimedia to come to an understanding regarding the workings of physics, for example, in the firing of the cannon ball exercise. It required that the learner engage in experiential/discovery learning. With the focal point of the course being a case of scientific reasoning and practice, the exercise had been designed with the intention that when learners interact with the simulated environment, they experience the consequences of their choices (i.e. cannon ball being propelled into the earth). This form of learning was further enhanced by written instruction and short answer responses and quizzes that reiterated the science lessons learnt. In this way, the designers have manipulated multimedia principles (and obviously technologies) to significantly add-value to the learner’s learning processes.”

Stephanie rates this site 5/5:
This website is extremely interesting and very advanced in the use of multimedia. It provides information and allows participants to practice through trial and error, making decisions for themselves and learning from their mistakes. It provides very interactive and participative experiences, allowing learners to learn by themselves.

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Featured Articles:
Our Editors rate this source:
Multimedia Definition. Wikipdia
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Multimedia Definition. Webopedia
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Learning Circuits
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Staffordshire University
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Multimedi and E-Learning. Training Multimedia
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The Role of Instructional Design in Multimedia Development. Peggy Troupin
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Cyber Media Creations
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Word Net
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What Is
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Multimedia. Warp Studio
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