How to Engage Learners efficiently with Rich Media


Rich media have always been used efficiently as entertainment in the form of films and interactive games. Different forms of edutainment have included features of electronic games in the service of achieving educational goals.

Even though rich media are being used enormously to achieve the educational purpose, yet, learners are not motivated to continue an instructional goal. Why?

Here are a few tips that will help you to design your instructional module with rich media, that will engage learners efficiently –

Minimize unnecessary visuals and text

In the year 1997, Harp and Mayer assessed the learning effects of adding both ‘seductive’ text and visuals to multimedia lessons. Seductive details are normally related to the general topic but are unrelated to the primary instructional goal. Though, these details would certainly spice-up the lessons, but it doesn’t do much judgment to the learning. In 1998, they further concluded that seductive details could distract the learners, by confusing the building of a mental model or by activating inappropriate preceding knowledge.

Utilize right design principles for inexperienced learners

The learner’s level of prior knowledge will help you design appropriate learning using rich media.  Low-knowledge people might benefit immensely by well-designed multimedia than high-knowledge learners. High-knowledge learners will be able to compensate for poorly designed learning compared to low-knowledge learners. According to Mayer (2001), integrating text and diagrams is always considered a good instructional design that helps low-knowledge learners but made little or no difference for high-knowledge learners. Mayer also concludes that, while working with low-knowledge learners, be particularly careful to use relevant principles of multimedia design.

Use simulations effectively with rich media

Simulations not only hold the potential to improve learning but also add value to an instructional program. Simulations are fun and motivating to use, for both children as well as adult learners. During the process of simulation learners acquire a broad discipline-specific knowledge that they are able to later transfer into a professional setting. In a study done by, Moreno, Mayer, Spires and Lester (2001) have noticed that, students learned better from a computer-based simulation game designed to teach environmental science than when the same material was presented as a tutorial with onscreen text and illustrations.

Rich media can enhance learning, provided, if they are used in ways that promote an effective cognitive process in learners;

  • Visuals such as illustrations and animation can improve learning, but animation is not necessarily more productive than illustrations.
  • Audio can enhance learning such as, when the narration supports animation, but background music might divert learners.
  • Including attractive but unrelated words and graphics does not motivate deeper learning but detracts from learning.

Rich media do not create learning, but rich media can enable effective instructional methods that promote learning.
So, use them wisely.

Reference – Robert a Reiser and John V Dempsey. Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology (Second ed.).


© Priya Gopalakrishnan and, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and owner is strictly prohibited.


Get inspired by ‘Dora the explorer’ for your next instructional design and development


It is the duty of every instructional designer to create the instructional tutorial that captures attention of the learner. However, we always end up questioning, how do I seize attention of my audience? The answer is simple yet complicated. ’Develop a learning environment that involves the learner.”

For ages, we are entertained by various children shows, television series, cartoons, etc. Most of them has one element in common and that is ‘entertainment’. Only a few stand out that entertain kids as well as educates them. One such animated television series for preschoolers is ‘Dora the explorer’.

If you are like me, a pre-school child’s mom, you are aware of ‘Dora the explorer’ and the potential behind the interactive video.

Dora is a young girl who jumps on a trip in every episode to find either a missing character or to help somebody. While she is on the quest, she asks the spectators at home to help her find the paths to reach her destination. On the way, she educates the audience Spanish language as well as introduces them to new words, numbers, colors, etc. Dora involves the audience to get up, solve a mystery, tells them to repeat with her. The interactivity engages the kids by providing an activity, a challenge and a feedback.

The interactive activities and the learning essentials in every episode is the key essence for its success and that set’s it apart from other preschooler’s shows.

The developers of ‘Dora the explorer’ use Howard Gardner’s theory of ‘multiple intelligence’ as their guide. The theory demonstrates that humans show seven kinds of intelligence and that the educational activities need addressing those seven types of intelligence towards the target group to meet a great success.

Children literally get so involved in the fun that they are not even aware about the intellectual knowledge they are gaining at the same time.

How can instructional designers get inspired by Dora and develop instructional material for adults?

Adult learners cannot be much differentiated from children when we talk about capturing their attention as well as making them involved in the learning practice.

Learning has moved from instructor-centered to learner-centered.

Designers have to keep in mind that, to make an effective and efficient learning occurrence for the learners, they need to create their instructional material with elements of interactive learning activities to involve and engage the learners, which will eventually encourage an outstanding learning experience.

Role that technology plays on changing the process of learning

Technology plays an exceptionally significant role in improving learning.  In this technology world educators are seeing that computers and multimedia based educational tools are smoothing the process of learning as well as enhancing social interaction. Technology is everywhere and in every industry. Computers and other technology like pod cast etc. can enhance the learning process. Technology has made Distance Education possible that involves audio and video interaction. Technology helps many student in varies ways, it makes learning enjoyable with less stress. To improve the learning process the ideal initiative would be to try and utilize every new technology tool.

5 tips to motivate adult learners

These are a few suggestions that can be helpful to motivate adult learners-

    1. The syllabus/curriculum has to match with their requirement.
    2. Let them come up with their own experiences related to the appropriate teaching.
    3. Show how their learning can be put in immediate usage.
    4. Let them take control; allow them to choose their own assignment by giving them a few choices. (E.g. Dr. MacDonald is going to drop the lowest scored assignment)
    5. Instructor can discuss the requirements of the learners (adult) and prepare their class around it. (E.g. I had once enrolled in a professional course. The instructor used to give 4-5 topics to us to be discussed in the next class and asked us to select any of them and mail her at the end of the current week. She would discuss that particular topic which is in more demand among the learners.)

    Overall, make the learners get involved throughout the teaching. Adult learners need to feel they are important.

    Motivation to Learn

    Three categories of adult motivation, curriculum design and classroom practice are discussed in “Thirty things we know for sure about the adult learning” article by Zemke.

    Under the category ‘Motivation to learn’, point no. 5 says – “Adults, who are motivated to seek out a learning experience do so primarily because they have a use for the knowledge or skill being sought. Learning is a means to an end, not an end in itself.”

    When designing course materials it is important to consider the different needs/motivations of the learner. It is easy to design for those who have high needs for achievement. They are intrinsically motivated and so they will do whatever is essential to accomplish the goal or task at hand. However, if we see the other side of the coin, it might be equally difficult to design for these learners since it is essential to create a task that is not too easy as they will not be challenged enough or not too difficult as it may discourage them and lead them to failure. Also, one must keep in mind that not all learners have high needs for achievement, so reaching out to different levels will always remain an issue.

    As an instructional designer/teacher how should we conquer this issue? and how do we design course materials for children keeping the same issue in mind?


    © Priya Gopalakrishnan and, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and owner is strictly prohibited.