Examining the Effectiveness of Hyperaudio Learning Environments

Examining the Effectiveness of Hyperaudio Learning Environments

Joerg Zumbach (Paris Lodron University of Salzburg, Austria) and Stephanie Moser (Technical University of Munich, Germany)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0125-1.ch018
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The focus of instructional designers is increasingly shifting towards mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets and their use for learning purposes. These devices not only enable text-based but also audio-based instruction. This chapter presents the concept of hyperaudio, a special type of non-linear auditory learning environment. Contrary to other instructional devices such as hypertext, there is little research on learning with hyperaudio yet. In view of this scientific gap, this chapter aims at examining the effect of non-linear auditory presentation of information in more detail. To begin with, cognitive processes which are crucial for hyperaudio learning are examined. Then, some seminal studies investigating the design of hyperaudio learning environments and their influence on learning processes are presented. Results indicate that non-linear auditory information presentation is not always beneficial in terms of learning outcomes and cognitive load.
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The post-modern era has brought about a dramatic change in our requirements from education and information. From a subjective point of view, the need and urgency for retrieving specific information has increased significantly. As a result, learners demand instant access to learning resources and information required for problem-solving as well as a flexible approach to learning. The development of new media offers, amongst other things, various opportunities for such flexible ways of learning. This is supported from a technological perspective by an ever-increasing number of versatile handheld devices. Mobile technologies such as smartphones are particularly well suited to meet these demands as they facilitate learning outside the bounds of time and place. Such equipment allows a fast retrieval of the right information at any given moment. While the place and time of learning were previously predefined by teachers, new media allow today’s learners to decide where and when to learn (Weidenmann, 2001). Mobile learning scenarios, usually referred to as “m-learning”, provide enormous potential for autonomous learning. In addition, current standards and software developments (e.g. data reduction) open up a wide range of applications. Consequently, a wide field of research on learning and instruction using mobile digital devices has been emerging in recent years (e.g. Hsi, 2003; Roschelle & Pea, 2002) as developing increasingly sophisticated mobile learning environments requires considerable experience and expertise. Particularly careful planning is required with regard to the uses of mobile devices in order to attract users and learners and to provide them with an integrated learning experience. Mobile technologies such as smartphones or tablets allow the presentation of both auditory and visual or audio-visual information. Given the wide range of technical possibilities available, finding the best way to present information and meet learners’ needs still poses a challenge to instructional designers. This paper focusses on auditive information as an arrangement of information that is presented exclusively via the auditory channel. In particular, the dissemination of mobile devices such as MP3-players or smartphones, to name but two examples, has led to an intensified usage of auditive instruction in recent years (O’Bannon, Lubke, Beard & Britt, 2011; Vajoczki, Watt, Marquis & Holshausen, 2010).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Working Memory: Working Memory refers to a unit of the human information processing system. The duration of information retention is limited.

Cognitive Load Theory: Cognitive Load Theory assumes three kinds of cognitive load which occupy resources within the working memory. Intrinsic cognitive load refers to the number of elements and their interactivity, extraneous cognitive load is a cognitive load which does not contribute to learning, and germane cognitive load is the space within the working memory devoted to genuine learning processes.

Cognitive Load: Cognitive Load refers to the amount of information to be kept and worked with within the Human Working Memory.

Hyperaudio: The non-linear arrangement of audio files within a digital learning environment which allows users to navigate freely between these auditory documents.

Hypermedia: The non-linear arrangement of visually presented information such as text, images, or movies, allowing users to navigate freely by using hyperlinks.

Scaffolding: Scaffolding describes mechanisms which support learners in self-directed learning without using direct instruction.

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