Research Output

Interactive multimedia and learning: realising the benefits.

  Interactive multimedia has the potential to create high quality learning environments
that actively engage the learner. For example it can combine explanation with
illustrative examples, on-line assessment with feedback and provide opportunities to
practise and experiment. A range of media elements can be used to convey a given
message and the learner can study at a time, place and pace convenient to them.
However there is growing evidence that the potential of interactive multimedia is not
being fulfilled. Early designs were often driven by technology rather than pedagogy,
with a focus on the physical interface. This thesis argues that if we are to design
effective interactive learning applications then a learner-centred approach to their
design and implementation should be taken. Design and development should not
focus solely on the application: integration into the curriculum must be planned, and
designed for, carefully. Attention should be given to social, or contextual, factors;
these strongly affect whether learners actually use applications and learn from them.
A series of experimental trials and associated studies into learning with interactive multimedia were carried out in order to explore this further. The results indicate that
whilst there is some evidence that the use of interactive multimedia can aid learning,
its effect and benefits are not as clear-cut as its proponents suggest. This work
demonstrates the importance of considering the wider context when designing for
learning with interactive multimedia and informs the integration of multimedia into
the curriculum. The result is a curriculum integration framework, which highlights the
need to locate the application design in the context of use and advocates user
involvement throughout the design and development process. Curriculum integration
should be designed for at the outset and evaluated as ongoing activity. Advice is given
on how to do this This thesis also explores problems associated with conducting research in real-world
learning contexts. A rich description is provided through a reflective analysis of the
difficulties encountered with the methodological approach taken here. Alternative
approaches are reviewed. Guidance is provided, which practitioners wishing to engage
in educational research can use in selecting which method, or methods, to use.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    31 May 2002

  • Publication Status:


  • Library of Congress:

    LB2300 Higher Education


Cairncross, S. Interactive multimedia and learning: realising the benefits. (Thesis). Edinburgh Napier University. Retrieved from



Interactive multimedia; learning environments; learner-centred; design; curriculum integration framework; user-involvement;

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