Impact of Technology and Multimedia

What impact does technology and multimedia have on online learning environments?

Learning environments, including face-to-face, blended, and online, are undergoing metamorphoses, driven by the changing demographics, experiences, and technology skills of its learners; the rapid rise of new technologies and new environments; and demands from learners of all ages, including those from the digital generation who prefer active learning instead of passive learning (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010). The ever changing face of technology provides instructors and learners with an eclectic assortment of tools for facilitating learning across the constructionist continuum, forever impacting the ways in which students learn and teachers teach. Web 2.0 and 3.0 technology tools including, but not limited to blogs, wikis, RSS feeds, web applications, mobile devices, flash, course management systems, video and picture sharing applications, clouds, social networking sites, twitter, web conferencing, and open source applications make it possible for students like me to construct knowledge from many sources. Many of these technology tools have become mainstays of course management systems such as instant messaging, email, discussion boards, blogs, and wikis (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012; Boettcher & Conrad, 2010).

Multimedia with its rich assortment of “visual forms of presentation” (Mayer, 1999, in press; Sweller, 1999; as cited in Mayer & Moreno, 2002, p. 88) including graphics, photo images, animation, audio, video, and text resources is greatly impacting the online environment. Through the use of these objects, students can be actively engaged in meeting their own learning needs in the online learning environment (Buckley & Smith, 2008). It is important to note, “Multimedia instructional environments are widely recognized to hold great potential for improving the way people learn” (Mayer, 1999, in press; Sweller, 1999; van Merrienboer, 1997; as cited in Mayer & Moreno, 2002, p. 87). In addition, the use of multimedia is known to be beneficial to people with different learning styles including visual, aural, and kinesthetic learners (Birch & Sankey, 2008).

What are the most important considerations an online instructor should make before implementing technology?

I wrote this statement in a previous blog, but it bears repeating because of its relevance to this question, “From my professional experience of 17 years teaching face-to-face classes for various computer applications; I have learned the value of knowing the technology for which I am teaching” (Baker, 2013, p. 1). At a minimum, the online instructor should be very confident with using essential tools built into the course management system. Since discussions are a primary means for creating a sense of community and bonding among learners (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010), the online instructor should plan on utilizing the discussion board to its fullest capability. Boettcher and Conrad (2010) recommend an incentive be attached to discussion board activities to encourage participation. For example, assigning a percentage of the total course grade, as is the practice at Walden University, is a motivating factor for students to participate in discussions. The online instructor should also be familiar with email, announcements, and using the grade book.

What implications do usability and accessibility of technology tools have for online teaching?

When I think of usability, the first question which comes to my mind is, “How user friendly is the course site?” But, according to Cooper, Colwell, and Jelfs (2007), the definition of usability goes much deeper; in an e-learning environment; usability refers to the “effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction with which users can achieve specified learning goals” (Cooper et al., 2007, p. 232). A second question, and probably more important in regards to usability is, “How can the technology tool be utilized by the student to complete learning assignments, projects, or discussions”?

In contrast, accessibility is the “ability of the learning environment to adjust to the needs of all learners” (IMS Global Learning Consortium, 2002; as cited in Cooper et al., 2007, p. 232). The question here is, “Is the course management system flexible”? A second question, “Is the learning resource capable of meeting the needs and preferences of all users”? According to Cooper et al., “accessibility and usability are intrinsically linked; the lower the level of accessibility of a resource for an individual, the less usable it will be for them” (2007, p. 232). Obviously, the online instructor and instructional designer designing the course need to make every effort possible to maintain a high level of usability and accessibility for the technology tools and learning resources.

What technology tools are most appealing to you for online teaching as you move forward in your career in instructional design?

If I have the opportunity to be an instructor for an online course delivered through a course management system, I will quickly become proficient in using all of its built-in technology tools including the use of the discussion board, blog, uploading course assignments, and instant messaging. In addition, I anticipate quickly becoming proficient with the course management system’s instructor tools including the grade book, discussion analysis tool, announcements, grading rubrics, and other instructor components of the system. I understand the benefits of utilizing the discussion board, though one strategy I would consider using is providing opportunities for students to create their own discussion topics and questions based on the learning goals to be achieved for that week.

What did you learn that would help you implement effective online instructional strategies in the future?

In the course readings for this week and this blog assignment, I learned about the online activities occurring in the “early middle weeks” (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010, p. 100) of the course. I also learned strategies for promoting a teaching presence; expanding my teaching tool set; nurturing the content and learning community, and pedagogical uses for technology tools most beneficial in this phase of the course.

Baker, P. (2013). Setting up an online experience. [Blog]. Unpublished document.

Birch, D., & Sankey, M. D. (2008). Drivers for and obstacles to the development of interactive multimodal technology-mediated distance higher education courses. International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology (IJEDICT), 4(1), 66-79. Retrieved from

Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010). The online teaching survival guide: Simple and practical pedagogical tips. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Buckley, W., & Smith, A. (2007). Application of multimedia technologies to enhance distance learning. Heldref Publications, 39(2), 57-65. Retrieved from

Cooper, M., Colwell, C., & Jelfs, A. (2007). Embedding accessibility and usability: Considerations for e-learning research and development projects. Research in Learning Technology, 15(3), 231-245. DOI: 10.1080/09687760701673659

Mayer, R. E., & Moreno, R. (2002). Animation as an aid to multimedia learning. Educational Psychology Review, 14(1), 87-99. Retrieved from

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education.


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