Media overload in instructional web pages and its impact on eLearning.

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Selected as one of the ‘Best Blog Posts of the Week; May 02, 2010 – May 08, 2010‘  by elearningPlanet.com

Multimedia positively has the prospective to increase the quantity and quality of information available to learners. More than long and lengthy texts, properly utilized and incorporated rich media assist learners to construct precise and efficient mental models.

However, the purpose of media in Instructional Design is not only to incorporate multiple media or to insert cool effects but to apply individual medium to its advantage in such a manner, that the potential learning becomes better and more effective than using a single element.

Unfortunately, I came across only a few websites that could demonstrate an example of effective use of media for learning. The others were a bunch of online encyclopedias that use an overload of media to educate the users about a single subject, for example –

  • The webmaster/instructional designer’s have provided links to ‘You Tube’ videos, which again redirect the learner’s to many other non-related videos.
  • They have provided links to the additional article of interests, links to other websites for the same information. This extra information’s are misleading for the learner.

By the time the learner settles down on a page to learn, he is so crowded with other topics that he might stop for a minute and ask, ‘why am I here again?’

The instructional web pages, online courses or call it elearning recognizes a massive prospective in the future. It is the duty of the instructional designers to select meticulously appropriate media that flawlessly support a learning requirement.

Examples of media overload or non-relevant items that impacts elearning.

In my opinion, these are a few non-relevant media overload that distracts from learning –

  • Adding lengthy videos – The video content should be relevant with the topic and the particular industry.
  • An appropriate medium to Video Blog sites – Instead of giving the direct links to ‘You Tube’ videos, the required video code may be embedded within the educative material. Extra informative links or videos can be added in separate page and not within the topic.
  • Picture speaks thousand words – Utilize graphics that support the content and not as a decorative
    image.
  • Avoid irrelevant text and audio.

In spite, of the demand for elearning, why do we come across such bad examples? As an instructional designer, are we forced to add extra elements just to make the tutorial beautiful?

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2 comments on “Media overload in instructional web pages and its impact on eLearning.

  1. I found this posting to be very interesting. I had not even considered many of the things you discussed until reading this and now it stands out all the time. I am a middle school teacher and have asked my kids to do research projects for me in school. It is so easy to get mad at my students for being off topic, when the websites they are visiting are set up to have a million and one distractions on it. I think many of the points that you make about being to the point, and limiting needless sounds and pictures are relevant in all forms of teaching, not just in e-learning. It is so easy for students to get distracted why do we try and bog them down with so many temptations?

    We must also keep in mind that the average attention span is not long at all, way less than what an average class period is in America. It is important to get the information out there accurately and quickly, learners do not want a 5 hour long explanation for something that can be learned in a matter of 30 minutes. I think it is important to use some graphic and audio to enhance a presentation because we do need to engage the learner, but we do not distract. Finding suitable and relevant “extras” can be beneficial if done correctly.

  2. You make an excellent point here that media overload can be a huge problem with online learning. I guess I hadn’t considered before that it could distract from the learning, but when I think back on my own online learning it makes sense. I teach 6th grade, and if I incorporated online learning into my curriculum I would be tempted to add multimedia elements in order to keep students engage. I would need to be aware though of the possibility for overload though. I wouldn’t want my students to lose focus on the main ideas and get lost in the media.

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