Multimedia in the classroom

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  1. Introduction
    1. Background of the study

Conventionally, verbal messages such as lectures, printed lesson have become the primary mean to deliver information to students. Teachers often give lectures and printed notes to deliver lessons in their teaching. However, over the past decades researchers in the field of education has been researching on effective pedagogical approaches to help students to understand abstract knowledge in order to make education relevant and effective for a larger and diverse population. Hence the use of multimedia instruction has become one of the most preferred tools in delivering lessons in educational setting.

It is evident that multimedia instructions has the potential to enhance learning than verbal only method of instruction (Mayer, 2003). Multimedia refers to presentations involving words (such as spoken or printed text) and pictures (such as animation, video, illustrations, and photographs). Multimedia instructions refer to instruction containing words and pictures that is intended to foster learning. Multimedia instruction causes acquisition, retention and transfer of information (Mayer, 2001). It is believed that technology enhanced instructions; multimedia based teaching activities are more meaningful and effective in conceptualizing the abstract concepts (Özmen, 2011). The development and use of multimedia aided teaching activities, helps the students to simulate, visual and intellectual structure of the abstract knowledge.

As a result educators, policy makers and school managements encourage the use of multimedia instructions in teaching. For example, the ministry of education of Malaysia has spent more than RM 6 billion on Information Communication Technology (ICT) over the past decade in education initiatives (Malaysian education Blue Print 2013-2025, 2012). Apart from that several south Asian counties such as India, Maldives, Nepal, Butan, Pakistan, has made the policy of integrating ICT in their curriculum

(InfoDev, 2010). Thus, teachers use computer screens, projectors, PowerPoint to deliver information in their teaching. It should be of no surprise to step into a classroom and see a teacher using multimedia instructions in the form of animations, pictures, videos via a projection on screen. Moreover use of PowerPoint has become one of the common tools for presenting multimedia instructions in teaching. In fact PowerPoint has become the tool of choice in many teachers first attempt to use multimedia instructions and to integrate technology in teaching. However, does the use of PowerPoint in multimedia instruction fulfill the integration of technology? Does the use of PowerPoint in multimedia instruction fulfill the criteria to foster meaningful learning? Does the use of PowerPoint in multimedia instruction helps students achieve better results?

It is worthwhile, to make a distinction between media and methods. Media refer to the delivery systems for communication such as books, computer screens, or PowerPoint. Methods refer to the instructional methods used to help students learn. For over decades there has been ongoing debate about whether or not media do, might, or ever will influence learning. According to Clark (1994) media will never influence learning. It is the methods which influence learning but not the medium. Hence there is nothing wrong with the use of PowerPoint or any kind of technology used in teaching. What is important is how the multimedia instructions are designed. If the aim of multimedia instruction is to help students to learn and provide cognitive guidance, then the teacher must make sure that the students build appropriate knowledge in their memories. Therefore multimedia instructions or PowerPoint slides must be designed in consistent with how students learn (Atkinson & Mayer, 2004). Furthermore, good instructional methods can work across media. Which means Multimedia instructions which are designed in the light of multimedia design principles can be effective irrespective of the medium used, whether it is from a computer program or a PowerPoint or from a textbook. In short, the principles of instructional design do not necessarily change when the learning environment changes (Mayer, 2003).

Cognitive science explains that human brain is limited in capacity. It can store and organize limited amount of information at a time. When the capacity is exceeded, cognitive overload may occur and limit the student’s ability to process information (Chandler & Sweller, 1991). This is very common in multimedia instructions. For example, teachers often use same information in two or more forms such as animation, verbal and written text. Students receive the same information in two or more forms and cognitive overload is common.

However, Studies indicates that students believe multimedia instructions help to increase the curiosity and interest (Oommen, 2012) in them as a result it helps in deep and meaningful learning (Clark, 2008; Yamauchi, 2008; Zaidel & Luo, 2010). Furthermore, teachers believe that multimedia instructions are effective and enhance students’ learning (Antonietti & Giorgetti, 2006). On the other hand, several studies performed on the effect of multimedia instruction such as PowerPoint on student performance shows no significant difference in students achievement or grade obtained (Jordan & Papp, 2013; Muri, 2011; Nouri & Shahid, 2005; Penciner, 2013; Zaidel & Luo, 2010), which seems to contradict students perception on its benefits to them. .

In order to design multimedia instructions effectively, teachers need to understand how students learn from multimedia instruction. The information must be presented in a way to utilize maximum cognitive capacity to process useful information and to reduce cognitive overload. According to Mayer (2001) in order to make an effective multimedia instruction, it must have words and pictures which are integrated, concise. It should also be channeled and must have potentially meaningful structure. Therefore, teachers need to have the knowledge and skills which allow them to use technology effectively for pedagogical purposes (Harris, Mishra, & Koehler, 2009). Studies done regarding effectiveness of multimedia instructions such as using PowerPoint and student learning (Jordan & Papp, 2013; Penciner, 2013) has believed that the lack of understanding of multimedia design principles and cognitive theories among teachers could be one of the barriers to interfere students learning under multimedia learning in scenario. Luik (2010) identified that teachers were not able to differentiate effective multimedia learning materials when they are asked to evaluate multimedia materials which are better than traditional teaching materials.

Although, teachers are attempting to respond the pressure form the education system to integrate technology in teaching, often PowerPoint are used to deliver multimedia instruction, however, the reality is that many lack the professional development in how to effectively use technology and how to effectively design multimedia instructions. Indeed, one of the factors which contributes to the appropriate use and design of multimedia instructions would be the teachers’ attitude towards multimedia technology. Akbaba & Kurubacak (1998) as cited in Ramanair and Sagat (2007) argued that unless teacher's attitude towards multimedia technology is identified, we cannot expect the teachers to effectively support the integration of technology into the curriculum. Effective implementation or integration of technology and multimedia instruction depends on the literacy level and the attitude of teachers (Albirini, 2004; Sabzian & Gilakjani, 2013). The lack of knowledge in designing appropriate multimedia can be detrimental to students learning. This, in fact it can be the reason why there is a huge contradiction between what teachers’ and students’ perception and their achievement. Evidently there is a disconnection not only between teachers’ understanding about the multimedia design principles and their attitude, but also whether teachers are really integrating the empirically determined multimedia design element in the design of their multimedia instructions appropriately.

  1. Problem statement

The use of multimedia instruction in teaching especially to teach abstract concepts is undeniable, yet there is lack of evidences that teachers design multimedia instructions appropriately based on cognitive theory of multimedia learning. Ironically, although teachers and students believe multimedia instructions are helping students to understand and achieve better results, their performance in some empirical research shows no significant relationship between multimedia instructions and students’ achievement (Jordan & Papp, 2013; Muri, 2011; Spaulding, 2007).

Besides, it is understandable that instructional design of multimedia is still based on the intuitive belief of the teachers instead of the empirical evidence (Sorden, 2005). For example, teachers normally use multimedia instructions such as PowerPoint slides with colorful backgrounds and dynamic animations, often they are not related to the instructional goal, and such designs inhibit understanding instead of opening it up (Atkinson & Mayer, 2004) .

Although the effectiveness of multimedia instructions and effect of different multimedia design principles are empirically determined, it is not clear whether teachers are incorporating these principles in the design of their multimedia instructions. Moreover it is not clear that teachers have the adequate knowledge and proper attitude to implement multimedia learning principles to design multimedia instructions appropriately.

Furthermore limited amount of research assumed that teachers have lack of knowledge of multimedia design principles and cognitive theories of multimedia learning (Fritschi, 2008; Jordan & Papp, 2013). Teachers are unable to differentiate effective multimedia materials which can cause meaningful learning or not (Luik, 2010). The lack of knowledge in designing and differentiating appropriate multimedia instructions can be detrimental to students learning.

Evidently there is a disconnection not only between teachers’ understanding about the multimedia design principles, but also whether teachers are really integrating the empirically determined multimedia design principles in the design of their multimedia instructions appropriately. Similarly research has revealed that teachers attitude as one of the factor which significantly influence (Al-Zaidiyeen, Mei, & Fook, 2010; Sabzian & Gilakjani, 2013) the effective use of multimedia technology such as multimedia instructions in their classroom.

Moreover, previous studies have focused more on the use of multimedia instructions and the effectiveness of multimedia instructions. Instead of focusing on the same aspects this study is aimed to investigate teachers’ knowledge of multimedia design principles, teachers’ attitude toward multimedia technology towards designing effective multimedia instruction used for their teaching.

  1. objectives of the study

The main objective of this study is to determine the teachers’ knowledge of multimedia instructional design principles and attitude towards multimedia technology in designing effective multimedia instruction based on “The cognitive theory of multimedia learning” and multimedia design principles (Mayer, 2001). It is believed that the information produced from this study would shed some light into the field of education while contributing practical advice to educators and teachers to enhance their knowledge on designing effective multimedia instruction for their teaching. To accomplish this, the study aims to fulfill five purposes:

  1. To determine teachers’ knowledge of multimedia instructional design principles.
  2. To determine how effectively teachers design and use multimedia instructions with respect to multimedia design principles by Mayer.
  3. To examine the relationship between teachers’ knowledge of multimedia instructional design and teachers attitude towards instructional technology in designing effective multimedia instruction for their teaching.
  4. To compare the effectiveness of multimedia instruction designed by teachers with respect to the descriptive profile such as years of experience, level of teaching and subject teach.
    1. Research question and Hypothesis

The study also aims to explore the following research questions and hypotheses to determine teachers’ knowledge of multimedia instructional design principles and attitude towards designing effective multimedia instructions for their teaching.

  1. Research questions

Research question 1: Do teachers have adequate knowledge of multimedia learning principles to design effective multimedia instructions for their teaching?

Research question 2: Are multimedia instructions designed effectively by teachers for their teaching?

Research question 3: Is there a significant relationship between teachers’ knowledge of multimedia instructional design and the effectiveness of the design of multimedia instruction used in teaching?

  1. Hypotheses

Hypothesis 1: There is a significant correlation between teachers’ knowledge of multimedia instructional design and the effectiveness of the design of multimedia instruction used in teaching.

Hypothesis 2: There is a significant relationship between teachers’ attitude towards multimedia instruction and the effectiveness of their design of multimedia instruction used in teaching.

Hypothesis 3: There is a significant difference in the effectiveness of the design of multimedia instructions used in teaching among teachers with respect to years of experience in teaching

Hypothesis 4: There is a significant difference in the effectiveness of the design of multimedia instructions used in teaching among teachers with respect to subject they teach

Hypothesis 5: There is a significant difference in the effectiveness of the design of multimedia instructions used in teaching among teachers with respect to level they teach.

  1. Significance of the study

This study contributes to the body of knowledge base on teachers’ pedagogical understanding about effective use of multimedia instructions. The study highlights the understanding based on teachers’ technical skill in designing effective multimedia instructions. Besides it also contribute the understanding of teachers’ attitude towards multimedia technology in implementing multimedia based instructions. It is believed that the findings of this study would contribute practical advice to educators and teachers to enhance their knowledge on designing effective multimedia instruction. And also for teacher educators and school headers to guide and provide professional development for the teachers with respect to designing effective multimedia instructions.

  1. Definition of terms

Attitudes – is defined as the degree to which a person has a negative or positive evaluation toward his/her performance of the behavior (Ajzen, 1988).

Operational definition for the purpose of this study, attitude was operationally defined as the degree of favor or disfavor towards the use of multimedia technology in designing multimedia instructions.

Effective multimedia instruction - is operationally defined asmultimedia instructions which are designed in accordance with multimedia design principles and cognitive theory of multimedia learning (Mayer, 2001).

Knowledge – was defined in dictionary.com as facts, information, and skills acquired through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject.

Operational definition for the purpose of this study, knowledge is defined as the awareness and teachers’ understanding about cognitive theories or multimedia instructional design principles and information and skills needed to design multimedia instruction effectively.

Multimedia - Any presentation using words and pictures; more specifically, words are interpreted as any material presented in verbal form, printed text, or spoken text. Pictures are static graphics, animations, or video (Mayer & Moreno, 2002). Operationally multimedia is defined as presenting words such as spoken text or printed text and pictures such as animation, videos, illustrations and photographs in a technology rich environment.

Multimedia instruction – is defined as presentation involving words and pictures that is intended to foster learning (Mayer, 2001). For the purpose of this study multimedia instruction is operationally defined as presenting words such as spoken text or printed text and pictures such as animation, videos, illustrations and photographs in a technology rich environment, which is intended to promote learning.

  1. Limitation of the study

The study collected data through questioners which are self-reported data. Therefore the results might be affected as teachers might have the tendency to provide desirable information rather than the actual information. In addition to that the study limit to secondary teachers and higher secondary teachers in Male’ Maldives, hence this limits the generalization of the research findings to teachers of other grade levels as well as another population.

  1. Basic assumptions

The following assumptions are made for the study

  1. The anonymity and confidentiality of the participants will be preserved, so the researcher assumed that all of the participants will provide honest, accurate, and complete responses based on their knowledge, attitude towards instructional multimedia and currently how they design multimedia presentation (PowerPoint) for their teaching.
  2. An adequate number of teachers voluntarily participated in the study
  3. All the participants use multimedia instructions (eg,PowerPoint presentation) for their teaching and those multimedia instructions are designed by themselves.
  4. Basic technology facilities are available for all the participants.
    1. Summary

Although, Students and teachers believe multimedia instructions are helping them to enhance their performance and achieve better results, some of the studies revealed that multimedia instructions are not helping them to achieve better results. Furthermore, some researchers believe that teachers’ do not really understand how students learn from multimedia materials. Based on what we see from most of the multimedia instructions, it appears that teachers design multimedia instructions based on their intuition, practice and experiences rather than empirically tested strategies. Besides it appears that teachers’ attitude plays a vital role in performing educational tasks effectively. Hence the study aims to investigate teachers’ knowledge of multimedia design principles and teachers attitude towards multimedia learning in designing multimedia instructions effectively. This chapter has broadly presented the contextual information need to understand the research problem. Moreover it has also presented the research gap and objectives including the research questions and hypothesis which guide the study. The limitations which are bounded by the study and the significance of the study were also presented in this chapter.

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