This whole course on the use of multiple media for instruction was quite different from what I expected. I anticipated learning to use animations, video, still images, text and audio in combination to create instruction, but I had not expected to be asked to instruct with each of the mediums in isolation. Doing so has created some unexpected challenges, and provided an insightful journey into the discovery of when and why a person might choose to use a particular medium and when it might be ineffective.
I’ve always preferred methods of instruction which combined multiple media over those which used only text. Limited use of media limits your effectiveness, in my opinion. For one thing, your audience has various learning preferences, and one medium might be more effective than another for any one individual. When designing instruction for individuals under ADA, you also have to be cognizant of what disabilities might be present in your audience members. A text-only instruction could be read by a screen reader and video-based instructions could be captioned with scene descriptors, but an instruction composed entirely of images may not be very effective for an individual with low vision or blindness.
Audio-visual instructions have the potential to take longer to create. You must be careful to ensure that your text, images, and audio complement each other while not being identical sources of information therefore violating the redundancy theory of multimedia, which states that learners cannot focus on printed and spoken text at the same time. On-screen text should only be used in the absence of pictorial information, when there is enough time to process both pictures and textual information, or when the related audio might be difficult for the learner to understand without a textual accompaniment, such as a foreign word. Another exception would be if your learners are beginners and a graphical depiction of the audio material, such as a chart, diagram, or table, would help to summarize the material being spoken. In my opinion, warnings and other critical text are probably also important exceptions.
After this course, I will be a lot more conscious about the choices I make related to particular media and their inclusion or exclusion from an instruction. I will also pay a lot closer attention to presentation than I have before. I never realized what an impact visual design choices and color had on my instructions and the learner. Furthermore, I will take into consideration the ways I am using particular media in combination with one-another to ensure that the media work in combination and complement one another rather than creating two or more separate tracks of instruction or worse, creating redundancies which compete for the learner’s attention and potentially cause a cognitive overload.