19 April 2007

Does added audio improve learning ?

On the Additive Benefit of Audio and Visual Media :
Optimal Use of Multiple Media in Online Education

If audio is added to text and graphics would this lead to improved learning ? I don’t think so.
Since audio media is a current topic, it is a valid subject here and worthwhile exploring for its effectiveness. This topic also impacts on posting up personal photos, and the educative benefit of personal introductions face-to-face or through media to establish a community of learners (also I think this is not valid). For those of you who are busy, please just scroll to the final sentence.

I add references to the published literature on the topic, of course. If you have any additional references, then I am interested – please send to me. Moreover if you need help to get a copy of any of my references, please ask me.

Paechter & Schweizer (2006) have recently put forward the need for more studies on the educative value in terms of improving learning in students of visual and audio information from the tutor in addition to pictorial/graphic and textual information media. Their study found that the face-to-face visual cueing and real-voice oral/aural media routes were not only redundant and added nothing, but detracted from the achieved quality of learning in the students. I have previously expounded in an earlier blog posting ‘Judging by your face’ (www.paulkawachi.blogspot.com 30 March 2007) that academic integrity depends on objectivity and negotiation of meaning through discussion of ideas, and not on subjectivity and smiles. I quote from my earlier work on selecting the optimum mix of media (Kawachi (2003) that some educators have reported that a face-to-face real meeting of all participants could be used (especially at the start of a course), but the inherent subjectivity that entails detracts from other values : Blake (2000) has argued that the precise lack in face-to-face interactions has a clear advantage in online teaching since it removes the personal and subjective, and unclutters the academic objectivity and disinterestedness that should characterise the essence of higher education.
It has been widely reported (Hara & Kling, 2000 ; Phillips, 1990 ; Wegerif, 1998) that there was an educational need for building a sense of community into asynchronous online learning, (though this was only in the early foundational stages of learning). Not based on shared learning : a sense of community has also been identified as developed through shared frustrations and anxieties (Hara & Kling, 2000) as in a virtual ‘coffee-shop chat room’ (Phillips, 1990) which appears to be satisfying a virtual extrinsic (outside of the course content) social motivation of the students – that reduces feelings of isolation, and that more aptly could be described as a community of non-learning (see Richardson & Turner, 2000) : in a carefully controlled objective study, Boling & Robinson (1999) found that there was some considerable trade-off between distance students’ satisfaction with social aspects of the course and the actual quality of learning achieved. Accordingly, intrinsic social (integrative) motivation may be not the best for deep quality learning, and once a student has some learning achieved and performative anxiety is reduced, then the tutor should convert the student to instrumental motivation. The intrinsic vocational, intrinsic academic and intrinsic personal motivations to learn constitute the instrumental motivations. These are more effective (Gardner & Lambert 1972 ; Kruidenier & Clément, 1986 ; Lukmani, 1972) than the integrative social intrinsic motivation in adult education, and in distance education, and for the acquisition (through cognitivist co-construction) of non-foundational knowledge. Laurillard (2002) also concluded there was a role for promoting a community of learning online in foundational courses, but added that there was no clear evidence that increased dialogue in the community produced deeper quality of learning.
The definition of ‘multimedia’ used here (see Kawachi, 2005) is that according to Jonassen (2000, p. 207) as “the integration of media such as text, sound, graphics, animation, video, imaging, and spatial modeling into a computer system”. The term multimedia could be applied to a document consisting of text and graphics (Greenlaw & Hepp, 1999, p. 44) or any form of presentation using multiple media (Schwartz & Beichner, 1999, p. 8), but here only multimedia through computer presentation is reviewed.
There is little research on the educational effectiveness of applying multimedia. Most reports just advocate the desirability of a future deployment of multimedia in a silver-bullet or bandwagon approach. A few describe simply an introduction of multimedia and assert its effectiveness without analyses and usually on the basis only from student post-test satisfaction. Student satisfaction with a programme is important, but does not necessarily correlate directly with improved learning outcomes - the addition of interactive multimedia to a distance program was less effective for learning than the face-to-face equivalent, in a well-designed three-way controlled comparative analysis by Boling and Robinson (1999, p. 170). They found that students enjoyed their distance learning experience most when the online lecture was supplemented by CMC video conferencing with other students - more than when supplemented by face-to-face cooperative group discussion, and more than when supplemented by only individual study (the control). However, their students through testing showed most learning after the face-to-face group discussion. This indicated that the level of student enjoyment or satisfaction cannot be equated automatically with better quality learning (that there is some trade-off between these). Teacher-student and student-student interactions have been reported to be a key basis for deep quality learning outcomes (see for example Wegerif, 1998 ; Kawachi, 2003a). However, even this research is not yet fully clarified. While an online community of students is believed to foster learning, at least in the early stages of a course (Kawachi, 2003b), some students especially adults engage distance education not for intrinsic social reasons. For instance, student perceived learning and course satisfaction have been related (Walker and Hackman, 1992) more to the amount of information received than to online rapport with tutors and other students.
An overview of how to deploy multimedia is given by Reddi & Mishra (2003) in a learning resources module for teachers. They provide a succinct interpretation of Jonassen’s list of media, with their categorisation of the media as text, audio, visual, and animation, plus the navigation interactivity. The various sub-types were also given as audio (narration or voice-over, music, and sound effects), visual (static graphics, and moving video), and animation (of the text, and of the graphics – using movements, fade in/out, and zoom in/out). And they clearly described the step-wise construction of a multimedia presentation that could be up-loaded to the internet for on-line learning or provided on a CD-hybrid for off-line learning. Each page, according to them, could be enhanced through the addition of multimedia to reach simultaneously the senses of the student. Indeed, the current power of instructional designer software can provide the platform with templates for this; however, there is little research yet on the educational effectiveness of deploying multimedia particularly when it is aimed at simultaneously engaging the senses. Most design is simply intuited from pre-computer studies that more media resulted in more learning - such as the findings reported by Geisman (1988) – that students remember 20% of what they see, 40% of what they both see and hear, and 70% of what they see, hear and do. Screen design is an important factor found to affect both the completion rate (poor design caused a 39% decrease in completion rate) and study time required (good design required 1/5 of the time to complete the lesson) (Szabo & Kanuka, 1999). Concerning the additive and potentially synergic advantages of multimedia for learning, the educational value of plain text can be enhanced through adding multimedia to simplify comprehension (Hashim, 2000). However, some additions for example of text to a presentation of animation and narration have been found to show poorer learning outcomes (Doolittle, 2001) (for a comprehensive review see Najjar, 1995). And Beccue & Vila (2001) have found no learning benefit from adding audio to multimedia of text plus graphics.


Beccue, B., & Vila, J. (2001). The effects of adding audio instructions to a multimedia computer based training environment. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 10 (1), 47-67. Retrieved May 6, 2003, from http://dl.aace.org/6387

Blake, N. (2000). Tutors and students without faces or places. Special Issue: Enquiries at the Interface: Philosophical Problems of Online Education. Journal of Philosophy of Education, 34 (1), 183-197.

Boling, N.C., & Robinson, D.H. (1999). Individual study, interactive multimedia, or cooperative learning : Which activity best supplements lecture-based distance education ? Journal of Educational Psychology, 91 (1), 169-174.

Doolittle, P.E. (2001). Multimedia learning : Empirical results and practical applications. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Retrieved April 26, 2003, from http://edpsychserver.ed.vt.edu/workshops/edtech/pdf/multimedia.pdf

Gardner, R., & Lambert, W. (1972). Attitudes and motivation in second language learning. Rowley, MA : Newbury House.

Geisman, J.L. (1988). ‘Beyond CBT : Interactive Video’, Computers and Personnel 2: 35-38.

Greenlaw, R., & Hepp, E. (1999). In-line / On-line: Fundamentals of the Internet and the World Wide Web. McGraw-Hill, Boston, MA.

Hara, N., & Kling, R. (2000). Students’ distress with a web-based distance education course. Information, Communication & Society. Retrieved Aug 20, 2000, from http://www.slis.indiana.edu/CSI/wp00-01.html earlier version at http://www.firstmonday.dk/issues/issue4_12/index.html

Hashim, K. (2000). ‘Virtual University Implementation : A Paradigm Shift for Instructors and Learners’, Proceedings of a Conference at University of South Australia (retrieved 26 April 2003). [http://www.com.unisa.edu.au/cccc/papers/non-refereed/hashim.htm]

Jonassen, D.H. (2000). Computers as Mindtools for Schools. Merrill, Upper Saddle River, NJ.

Kawachi, P. (2005). Computers, multimedia and e-learning. In U.V. Reddi & S. Mishra (Eds.), Educational media in Asia, (pp. 97-122). Vancouver : Commonwealth of Learning.

Kawachi, P. (2003a). ‘Vicarious Interaction and the Achieved Quality of Learning’, International Journal on E-Learning, (in press).

Kawachi, P. (2003b). Choosing the appropriate media to support the learning process. Journal of Educational Technology, 14, ( 1 & 2), 1-18.

Kruidenier, B.G., & Clément, R. (1986). The effect of context on the composition and role of orientations in second language acquisition. Quebec : International Centre for Research on Bilingualism.

Laurillard, D. (2002). Rethinking university teaching (2nd Edition) : A conversational framework for the effective use of learning technologies. London : RoutledgeFalmer.

Lukmani, Y. (1972). Motivation to learn and learning proficiency. Language Learning, 22, 261-273.

Najjar, L.J. (1995). A Review of the Fundamental Effects of Multimedia Information Presentation on Learning. Technical Report GIT-GVU-95-20, Georgia Institute of Technology, GA. [http://www.cc.gatech.edu/gvu/reports/TechReports95.html] (retrieved 18 April 2003)

Paechter, M., & Schweizer, K. (2006). Learning motivation with virtual tutors : Does it matter if the tutor is visible on the net ? In M. Pivec (Ed.), Affective and emotional aspects of human-computer interaction, (pp. 155-164). Amsterdam : IOS Press.

Phillips, C. (1990). Making friends in the ‘electronic student lounge’. Distance Education – An International Journal, 11 (2).

Reddi, U.V., & Mishra, S. (2003). Educational Multimedia : A Handbook for Teacher-Developers. Commonwealth Educational Media Centre for Asia, New Delhi, India (retrieved 10 April 2003) [http://www.cemca.org/EMHandbook/EdMul_Full.pdf]

Richardson, J.A., & Turner, A. (2000). Collaborative learning in a virtual classroom. National Teaching and Learning Forum newsletter. October, 9 (6). Oryx Press. Retrieved March 20, 2001, from http://www.ntlf.com

Schwartz, J.E., & Beichner, R.J. (1999). Essentials of Educational Technology. Allyn and Bacon, Boston, MA.

Szabo, M., & Kanuka, H. (1999). ‘Effects of violating Screen Design Principles of Balance, Unity, and Focus on Recall Learning, Study Time, and Completion Rates’, Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia 8(1) : 23-42. [http://dl.aace.org/9176] (retrieved 6 May 2003)

Walker, K., & Hackman, M. (1992). ‘Multiple predictors of perceived learning and satisfaction : the importance of information transfer and non-verbal immediacy in the televised course’, Distance Education – An International Journal 13(1).

Wegerif, R. (1998). The social dimension of asynchronous learning networks. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 2 (1). Retrieved August 20, 2000, from http://www.aln.org/alnweb/journal/vol2_issue1/wegerif.htm

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