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Multimedia & Presentations

In any teaching environment, and particularly online, poorly designed presentations in PowerPoint or any other tool can  be deadly, as this lighthearted video shows. We don't want our students using the buzz-phrase “Death by Powerpoint” when referring to our teaching.

Don McMillan: Life After Death by PowerPoint (or any other presentation type)

While there are many ways to move away from lecture toward more active learning approaches, the somber truth is that in most courses, there is foundational, didactic content that must be presented in some fashion. Readings and websites are useful, but your students rely on you to share your expertise and experience, clarify confusing concepts, and synthesize critical teaching points.

Fortunately, as an online instructor, you have an array of options for using audio, images, animations and video to engage your learners and optimize learning.  You also have the choice to find suitable materials already created or to make pieces yourself. You are strongly encouraged to spend a little time searching online for what is already out there because the quality and quantity are growing exponentially (just be sure to read the copyright guidelines). Then, you will have a good idea of what multimedia pieces you want to invest time in creating yourself. Research supports the use of visual vs. text-heavy presentations, and provides us with guidance for how to combine different kinds of digital media for maximum educational effectiveness. With readily available and easy to use hardware and software, moving beyond bullet lists is easier than you may think. The resources provide an overview of design principles for learning online.

Cognitive Load Theory

Cognitive load relates to the demands put on the brain's working memory. The following brief videos describe how the load can be too much or too little to stimulate learning. Since multimedia is a key part of most online courses, getting the balance between various types of input, usually audio and visual, is important.

Introduction to Cognitive Load Theory
Cognitive Load Theory:
3 Different Types of Cognitive Load