How Effective is Multimedia in Online Training?
By David KahnTo remain competitive in today’s tight labor market, online training has become a prevalent means through which organizations can train employees more rapidly, moreeffectively, and at less expense than the past (Mcrea, Gay, & Bacon, 2000; Urdan & Weggen,2000). Nevertheless, as the implementation of online training has become widespread, manyunfounded beliefs persist with regards to the effectiveness of particular delivery methods. Oneexample is the perception that integrating multimedia into course delivery is undeniably beneficial.
What is Multimedia?
Multimedia is often considered to be the most misused term in online learning.Multimedia refers to computer-mediated information that is presented concurrently in more thanone medium. It consists of some, but not necessarily all, of the following elements: text; stillgraphic images; motion graphics; animations; hypermedia; photographs; video; and audio, i.e.,sounds, music, and narration (Kleen & Shell, 1994; Najjar, 1996; Tannenbaum, 1998).
The Significance of Evaluating Multimedia
A primary reason why the assessment of multimedia is important relates to the fact thatmost people believe that to have effective online training, multimedia must be integrated intocourse delivery (Najjar, 1996). For instance, in a study of organizations that offered itsemployees online training (Kleen & Shell, 1994), 88% reported to have multimedia capability,and 47% of those without capability had solid plans to obtain it. However, when asked why theyincluded (or intended to include) multimedia, the most frequent response involved a “buteveryone else is doing it” stance. Is this the way courses should be designed?Over the last twenty years, most of the related literature has not attempted to quantify theactual advantages of incorporating multimedia in online training (Lookatch, 1997). Very fewquestioned the “overly optimistic multimedia paradigm change and asked for a more realisticassessment of multimedia-assisted instruction” (Hoogeveen, 1995). Only now are criticschastising those who jumped on an unproven bandwagon without careful consideration of the benefits (Bollentin, 1998; Oppenheimer, 1997; Pepi & Scheurman, 1996; Schrage, 1998).
The Effectiveness of MultimediaComprehension
. To assess the effectiveness of multimedia in online training courses, itcan be compared to text-only based courses, a non-multimedia mode of delivery, to determine