Multimedia Technologies in Education

Multimedia Technologies in Education

Armando Cirrincione (Bocconi University, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-014-1.ch137
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Abstract

Multimedia technologies (MMT) are tools that make it possible to transmit information in a very large meaning, transforming them into knowledge through leveraging the learning power of senses in learners and stimulating their cognitive schemes. This kind of transformation can assume several different forms: from digitalized images to virtual reconstructions; from simple text to iper-texts that allow customized, fast, and cheap research within texts; from communications framework like the Web to tools that enhance all our senses, allowing complete educational experiences (Piacente, 2002b). MMT are composed by two great conceptually-different frameworks (Piacente, 2002a): • Technological supports, such as hardware and software: this refers to technological tools such as mother boards, displays, videos, audio tools, databases, communications software and hardware, and so on, that make it possible to transfer contents; • Contents: this refers to information and knowledge transmitted with MMT tools. Information is simply data (such as visiting timetable of museum, cost of tickets, the name of the author of a picture), while knowledge comes from information elaborated in order to get a goal. For instance, a complex iper-text about a work of art, where several pieces of information are connected in a logical discourse, is knowledge. For the same reason, a virtual reconstruction comes from knowledge about the rebuilt facts. Contents can also be video games, as far as they are conceived for educational purposes (Egenfeldt-Nielsen, 2005; Gros, 2007). It is relevant to underline that to some extent technological supports represent a condition and a limit for contents (Wallace, 1995). In other words, content could be expressed just through technological supports, and this means that content has to be made in order to fit for specific technological support, and that the limits of a specific technological support are also the limits of its content. For instance, the specific architecture of a database represents a limit within which contents have to be recorded and have to be traced. This is also evident when thinking about content as a communicative action: Communication is strictly conditioned by the tool that we are using.
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What Are Multimedia Technologies?

Multimedia technologies (MMT) are tools that make it possible to transmit information in a very large meaning, transforming them into knowledge through leveraging the learning power of senses in learners and stimulating their cognitive schemes. This kind of transformation can assume several different forms: from digitalized images to virtual reconstructions; from simple text to iper-texts that allow customized, fast, and cheap research within texts; from communications framework like the Web to tools that enhance all our senses, allowing complete educational experiences (Piacente, 2002b).

MMT are composed by two great conceptually-different frameworks (Piacente, 2002a):

  • Technological supports, such as hardware and software: this refers to technological tools such as mother boards, displays, videos, audio tools, databases, communications software and hardware, and so on, that make it possible to transfer contents;

  • Contents: this refers to information and knowledge transmitted with MMT tools. Information is simply data (such as visiting timetable of museum, cost of tickets, the name of the author of a picture), while knowledge comes from information elaborated in order to get a goal. For instance, a complex iper-text about a work of art, where several pieces of information are connected in a logical discourse, is knowledge. For the same reason, a virtual reconstruction comes from knowledge about the rebuilt facts. Contents can also be video games, as far as they are conceived for educational purposes (Egenfeldt-Nielsen, 2005; Gros, 2007).

It is relevant to underline that to some extent technological supports represent a condition and a limit for contents (Wallace, 1995). In other words, content could be expressed just through technological supports, and this means that content has to be made in order to fit for specific technological support, and that the limits of a specific technological support are also the limits of its content. For instance, the specific architecture of a database represents a limit within which contents have to be recorded and have to be traced. This is also evident when thinking about content as a communicative action: Communication is strictly conditioned by the tool that we are using.

Essentially, we can distinguish between two areas of application of MMT (Spencer, 2002) in Education:

  • 1.

    Inside the Educational Institution (schools, museums, libraries): this refers to all the tools that foster the value of lessons or visiting during the time that they take place. Here we mean “enhancing” as enhancing moments of learning for students or visitors: hypertexts, simulation, virtual cases, virtual reconstructions, active touch-screen, video, and audio tools;

  • 2.

    Outside the Educational Institution: this refers to communication technologies such as Web, software for managing communities, chats, forums, newsgroups, for long-distance sharing materials, and so on. The power of these tools lies in the possibilities to interact and to cooperate in order to effectively create knowledge, since knowledge is a social construct (Nonaka & Konno, 1998; Von Foerster, 1988; Von Glasersfeld, 1988).

Behind these different applications of MMT lies a common database, the heart of the multimedia system (Pearce, 1995). The contents of both applications are contained in the database, so the way that applications can use information recorded in the database is strictly conditioned by the architecture of the database itself.

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Different Dimensions Of Mmt In Teaching And Learning

We can distinguish two broader frameworks for understanding the contributions of MMT to teaching and learning.

The first pattern concernes the place of teaching: While in the past, learning generally required the simultaneous presence of teacher and students for interaction, now it is possible to teach long distance thanks to MMT.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Information Delivery Theory: Teaching is just a delivery of information, and students are just recipients of information.

Self Paced E-Learning: Students access computer-based (CBT) or Web-based (WBT) training materials at their own pace, thus selecting what they wish to learn and decide when they will learn it.

E-Learning (Electronic Learning): It is a way of fostering learning activity using electronic tools based on multimedia technologies.

Leader-Led E-Learning: Electronic learning that involves an instructor and where students can access real-time materials (synchronous) via videoconferencing or audio or text messaging, or they can access delayed materials (asynchronous)

Space Constraints: All kinds of obstacles that raise the cost of transferring from one place to another

Multimedia Technologies (MMT): All the kinds of technological tools that make us able to transmit information in a very large meaning, leveraging the learning power of human senses and transforming information into knowledge, stimulating the cognitive schemes of learners

LO (Learning Objects): They are single, discrete modules of educational content with a certain goal and target, characterized by content and a teaching method that fosters a certain learning tool: intellect, senses (sight, hearing, and so on), fantasy, analogy, metaphor, and so on

Performance Support Tools (PST): Software that helps students in performing a task or in self-evaluation

Cognitive Theory: Learning is a sense-making activity, and teaching is an attempt to foster appropriate cognitive processing in the learner.

Web-Based Training (WBT): Training material is delivered using the World Wide Web.

Computer-Based Training (CBT): Training material is delivered using hard support (CD-ROM, films, and so on) or on-site.

Time Constraints: This refers to the need to attend or visit or participate in some event at the time that it takes place, because time flows.

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