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Is Multimedia Learning the Key to Unlocking Students’ Learning Potential?

Most modern pedagogical research is concerned with one thing: How do we ensure that students achieve their highest potential? What tools, models, resources and practices can an educator employ to give every single kid – regardless of prior proficiency or perceived shortcomings – a fair crack at succeeding in school?

Ask 10 different experts what they think the solution is, and you may get 10 different answers. But a common thread among all experts is that students need a multimedia learning approach.

What is multimedia learning? Why is it critical to ensuring student success across a broad spectrum? And, importantly, how do parents and students leverage the benefits of multimedia learning for personal results? Let’s explore below.

What Is Multimedia Learning?

Multimedia learning involves absorbing school information through written words, audio resources, pictures, videos, interactive modules and other mixed media resources. This is in contrast to the conventional learning model, which relied heavily (sometimes solely) on written materials. Studies show multimedia learning helps students retain and understand course material better than traditional reading/writing learning.

The term was coined in the late 90s by education expert and professor of psychology Richard E. Mayer in his landmark paper on the topic. It has been a majorly influential theory in the past 25 years of education.

The Multimedia Learning Theory and the VARK Model

You can draw a straight line between the multimedia learning theory (MMLT) and another influential topic in education: the VARK model.

According to the VARK model, students fall into four basic learning types: visual, audio, reading/writing and kinesthetic learning. Most students have a preferred learning type, a “sensory modality” that they feel most comfortable with in the classroom.

The multimedia learning approach accommodates each of these learning styles. It helps teachers ensure that no student feels left behind simply because the material wasn’t presented correctly.

How MML Can Improve “Meaningful Learning”

Interestingly, studies show that MML improves “meaningful learning.” Testing the effectiveness of MML, analysts looked at its impact on three types of learning outcomes: no learning (where information is neither retained nor applied), rote learning (where information is retained but not applied) and meaningful learning (where information is both retained and successfully applied). They found that multimedia learning approaches appreciably boosted meaningful learning.

How to Leverage the Benefits of MML

So, what can a parent or student do with all this information? Thankfully, there are several ways to leverage the benefits of MML in your education.

The best way is to find an online school that emphasizes multimedia learning. The best online schools will often use a mixture of audio, video, interactive and written resources, allowing students to earn Ontario high school credits online in a fully accommodating digital atmosphere.

Beyond switching to online courses, you can also take matters into your own hands – diversify your media diet with various information channels. For instance, you can learn a new chapter of history by listening to history podcasts. You can discover a new Shakespeare play by watching a stage adaptation. You can even play some high-level math games online to hone your problem-solving skills.

In summary, “the textbook” shouldn’t be the be-all-end-all of a student’s education. Diversifying information channels with a multimedia learning approach accommodates various learning styles and improves meaningful learning.

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