Cognitive Recognition-Multimedia Learning

I recently started attending a large community church (Sagebrush Community Church) close to my neighborhood and the last couple of weeks the design folks have astounded me with their presentations. As the pastor gives his teaching he refers the congregation to the big screens and this is what is shown. As a narrator reads some content the same content pops up on the big screen in animation, different font size and color, and a large grumbling like thunder is played in the background. The noise is a great attention getter but the repeat of flashing text while it is being read does not transfer any type of learning. I know that church communities don’t study adult learning but if a graphic designer is going to be responsible for creating some type of learning presentation at least use the basic rules of Multimedia Learning.

The principle known as the “multimedia principle” states that “people learn more deeply from words and pictures than from words alone” (Mayer).  However, simply adding words to pictures is not an effective way to achieve multimedia learning.  The goal is to  instructional media in the light of how human mind works.  This is the basis for Mayer’s cognitive theory of multimedia learning.

Humans can only process a finite amount of information in a channel at a time, and they make sense of incoming information by actively creating mental representations.   Mayer also discusses the role of three memory stores: sensory (which receives stimuli and stores it for a very short time), working (where we actively process information to create mental constructs (or ‘schema’), and long-term (the repository of all things learned).  Mayer’s cognitive theory of multimedia learning presents the idea that the brain does not interpret a multimedia presentation of words, pictures, and auditory information in a mutually exclusive fashion; rather, these elements are selected and organized dynamically to produce logical mental constructs. Futhermore, Mayer underscores the importance of learning (based upon the testing of content and demonstrating the successful transfer of knowledge) when new information is integrated with prior knowledge.

Design principles including providing coherent verbal, pictorial information, guiding the learners to select relevant words and images, and reducing the load for a single processing channel etc. can be entailed from this theory.