What is Multimedia?

The next area to look at is the question of what Multimedia actually is.  Many people have a vague understanding of what it is but not everyone is entirely sure.

Wikipedia defines it as “media that utilises a combination of different content forms. The term is used in contrast to media which only utilise traditional forms of printed or hand-produced text and still graphics. In general, multimedia includes a combination of text, audio, still images, animation, video, and interactivity content forms.”

Multimedia is often used in elearning tools.  Some great examples are the mix of video and still graphics that emphasis the content of many courses.

Comparing the idea of multimedia with the Web 2.0 technologies we discussed back in March, it is clear to see how they could work together.  The audio and video interactivity that is multimedia can be accessed and networked via many of the Web 2.0 technologies such as social networks or grassroots video sites.

I have noticed that multimedia content is extremely important for Gen Y students.  Most of my Gen Y students will become bored or distracted very quickly if they are not “entertained” with audio, animation, video or as a minimum still images to match text content.

Learning Theories and Technology

When considering the most appropriate elearning tool, it is important to consider the learning theory that applies to that technology.



Some of the technologies discussed over the past months are socially based.  It would seem that most of these fall into the category of social learning theory…or do they?



The concept of social bookmarking, networking or sharing would seem to fall into this category.  Saying that, I think overall, the technologies we spoke about in Module 1 are primarily based on a constructivist theory where users build on the knowledge they already have eg. In facebook you link to the people you know and then “build” on that by linking to people…they know etc



When it comes to projects like virtual worlds, I believe the correct theory would be a mix of constructivist, behaviourist and possibly social learning.




Overall, I think our lecturer has asked us this question to emphasis that different learning theories could be applied at different points and times to elearning.

Social Learning Theory

From its name, perhaps you can gather that this theory is based on the idea that people learn by following the positive and/or negative behaviours they observe.


Wikipedia outlines that Social learning theory is “derived from the work of Gabriel Tarde (1843:1904) which proposed that social learning occurred through four main stages of imitation: close contact, imitation of superiors,  understanding of concepts, role model behaviour


Bandura is recognised for combining  a mix of cognitive and behaviourist ideas.  Social learning theory is based on four requirements so that people can model the desired behaviour.  Wikipedia outlines these four requirements as “retention (remembering what one observed), reproduction (ability to reproduce the behavior), and motivation (good reason) to want to adopt the behavior.


You may recognise Bandura’s theory in many social learning tools.  Social learning theory would be evident in social projects such as facebook and myspace.  People visit these sites and learn about other people or events.


My next post will discuss learning theories and Web 2.0 projects. 

The Constructivist Approach

Wikipedia states that “Constructivism may be considered an epistemology (a philosophical framework or theory of learning) which argues humans construct meaning from current knowledge structures.”



piagetPiaget is often considered the father of constructivist theory. The basic theory is that humans construct meaning based on their current knowledge.


This may influence the way elearning is designed by expecting that the designer will “construct” the contents to ensure self development for the learner.


Comproj.com has some great information about constructivism and elearning.  This website states “constructivism theorises that there is no such thing as knowledge separate from the knower, but only knowledge we construct ourselves as we learn. Learning is not understanding the “true” nature of things, but rather a personal and social construction of meaning out of a bewildering array of sensations which have no order or structure besides the explanations which we fabricate for them.“


Perhaps an elearning tool with constructivist detail would include scenarios and case studies.  It may also ask open ended questions to allow the learner to build or “construct” their own learning to feel a sense of achievement.


My next post will discuss Social Learning theory

The Humanist Approach

Wikipedia notes that “There are several factors which distinguish the Humanistic Approach from other approaches within psychology, including the emphasis on subjective meaning, a rejection of determinism, and a concern for positive growth rather than pathology.”


From an elearning point of view, it is important to consider “human centred design”.   


Any humanist based learning applications would need to consider humanist principles such as:


-ensuring that a persons past experience (eg. The people they know) helps them get the most of the learning.

-ensuring the learning encourages self expression and development

-ensure feedback is given (humanist would ensure it is a non-threatening type of feedback)

-allow people to get the learning they need


My next post will discuss a constructivist approach.

What is Cognitivism?

Wikipedia explains that “In psychology, cognitivism is a theoretical approach in understanding the mind, which argues that mental function can be understood by quantitative, positivist and scientific methods, and that such functions can be described as information processing models”

Basically, congnitivism is based on the theory that our brains look for some sort of meaningfulness. Back in the 1950’s and 60’s there was dominance to the behaviourist theory (see my last post).  Wikipedia goes on to explains that Chomsky “helped spark the cognitive revolution in psychology through his review of B. F. Skinner‘s Verbal Behavior, in which he challenged the behaviorist approach to the study of behavior and language dominant in the 1950s.”

chomsky is ace!Wortham states that “Nowadays, you don’t find academic behaviorists anymore. The behaviorist doesn’t care how the organism gives the response, all the behaviorist knows is that in this context, the pigeon pecks the green disc, and that’s all it matters. It doesn’t matter if the pigeon is thinking anything, the behaviorist doesn’t deny that there is something going on in the pigeon’s little head, there may well be, but it just doesn’t matter. All that matters is that in this context the pigeon behaves in this way.”


Wortham explains that congnitivism is concerned with what the person thinks about the content and they believe that from this thought, a response will be formulated.


The eleed.de website sums it up well as “a cognitivist approach is based on the belief that there is a structure in the way we perceive and understand the world.”


When it comes to elearning, it is important to consider learning from a cognitivist point of view.  Our lecturer has suggested that “meaningfulness and insight” may be good examples of this theory.


With elearning, it is easy to see how a learner may need to put together a “picture” to completely understand the learning.  It is also important to consider what the users past experience has been with this subject and how that may affect the way they relate to the stimuli and the meaning they create from the information.


This may be applied to elearning design by creating a tool that allows users to firstly understand the overall goal or outcome and then feed them individual pieces of information that make up the overall goal.


Another concept to be considered is the “advanced organisers” of a learner. A great definition I found on a wikied page explains that and advanced organiser is “a statement of inclusive concepts to introduce and sum up material that follows”.


A great example of this would be the home or start page of an elearning tool that outlines what and why the user is completing this task.


My next post will deal with the Humanist approach.

What is Behaviourism?

This theory, as its name suggests, defines learning as something that can be proven by a learners behaviour or response. 

This theory has also been called the learning perspective by some. Wikipedia explains that this “philosophy of psychology is based on the proposition that all things which organisms do — including acting, thinking and feeling—can and should be regarded as behaviors.”

Probably the most famous behaviourist of the past century was BF Skinner. Skinner was most famous for his invention of the operant conditioning chamber.  This chamber has become very famous since Skinner devised it in the 1930’s because it detected a “behaviourist” response.  Usually, Skinner used rats or pigeons for his experiments and he typically used the pressing of a lever by one of his subjects to prove his theories. The main basis of his experiments was that you can shape a learners behaviour which proves learning has occured.

skinnerbox.png  SKINNERS BOX – be thankful you are not a rat 🙂 Click the image for a larger version

Skinner was famous for proposing that it is primarily about shaping the learners behaviour to get the outcome that you want and then reinforcing this behaviour so they will do it again.

Pavlov (as in the dog guy), also experimented to prove that a new behaviour proved learning.  Basically, his experiments (with a dog) proved that when he replaced one type of stimulus (food) with another (a bell), he could get a behavioural response.  For lots more information on Pavlov’s experiments, check out this wikipedia page.

pavlov.jpg FUNNY!

Thinking about behaviourism and elearning, it would be quite simple to understand that a reinforced behaviour would result in an action that would prove learning.  This could be established with something as simple as INFORMATION PAGE, PRACTICE PAGE, ASSESSMENT PAGE (will prove learnt behaviour).

Saying that, there may be some other factors that could impact on the actual amount of behavioural change witnessed.  I found an interesting article by Felix Mödritscher (The Impact of an E-Learning Strategy on Pedagogical Aspects) which states there may be other factors that impact the learning process.  They include:

focus: could determine the degree of behavioural change.
motivation and emotions: because this may affect how the student deals with the stimuli
prior knowledge: which could dramatically impact the amount of behavioural change noted.

The Modritscher article goes on to give examples of behaviourist and other learning theory based elearning.

My next post will discuss a cognitive approach.

What is Learning?

Learning has been defined in many different ways over the centuries.  One of simplest definitions is that learning is simply the acquisition and/or development of skills, behaviours and understanding.

Learning means different things to different people and everyone learns in different ways depending on the environment, stimuli and their understanding and interpretation of information.  

As a teacher or trainer, you need to understand what learning is about.  There are learning theories that can help us become better teachers.  If you understand the learning theories that you are using (or wanting to use) it will help you to ensure that the learner is “learning”.

The next five blog entries will discuss Behaviourist (Behaviorist for my US pals), Cognitive, Humanist, Constructivist and Social Learning theories.

LMS Market

Our lecturer has asked us to discuss the key findings of the Learning Management Systems 2008: Facts, Practical Analysis, Trends, and Vendor Profiles report.

The report discusses a few very interesting points and perhaps the most obvious is that the LMS market has been changing, growing (grown by 22% in the past 6 months) and is quite complex.

The report states that approximately 60% of companies have an LMS and 57% have virtual classrooms (based on US figures).

An interesting point that they outlined in the report is that approximately 24% of companies were going to change platforms soon and purchase a new LMS.

Learning Management Systems need to be integrated into the HR systems of organisation. The integration of performance management with LMSs is driven by the need for organisations to show matches between performance and outcomes.

The LMS market is still growing and the core requirements are training related with a large focus for “on demand” features which means they don’t even need to install/update any software on their network.

Some of the issues they identified included data quality and the integration of change management into the systems.   LMS and LMCS are set to be a prominent feature in business over the next 5-10 years.  

LMS Survey Results

Our lecturer has asked us to discuss the LMS statistics available on the Learning Circuits website.

The statistics look at how many organisations have LMS systems in place.  With a whopping 81%, the message is clear that organisations are utilising LMS systems to support their e-learning.  The next stats outline that a large proportion of these systems were purchased.

Probably the most eye opening stats relate to the use of LMSs within organisations.  Most of them use it for “reporting” and “centralising their learning”.  It makes sense that business is using these tools to ensure compliance and to save $$$ by centralising their learning services.