Multimedia materials and learning environments can minimally be considered the combination of print and images, but commonly involve streaming video, music, instant messaging, or interactive online features. These applications are becoming more mainstream as computers and Internet connections are upgraded in schools, libraries and homes. CITEd reviewed the literature on the teaching and learning potential of these materials and environments in a variety of contexts and content areas.

The review is organized into the following subtopics, each with a short practitioner-friendly article:

Subtopics:

Learning with Multimedia Agents
Learning History with Multimedia Materials
Learning Mathematics with Virtual Manipulatives
Learning with Computer Games and Simulations
Learning to Read with Multimedia Materials
Learning a Second Language with Multimedia Materials
Using Multimedia Tools to Help Students Learn Science
Multimedia Instruction for Students Who Are Deaf
Multimedia Instruction of Social Skills
Multimedia Geography Instruction
Multi-User Virtual Environments for Education

Overview: Universal Design for Learning in a Digital Multimedia Environment

This overview article posits that Universal Design for Learning (UDL) can provide a helpful framework for summarizing the research on the use of multimedia materials and demonstrating how a digital multimedia environment can increase the accessibility of materials, scaffold students’ exploration of content, and facilitate their engagement. To read the full overview, click here .


Subtopic: Learning with Multimedia Agents

Agents are the lifelike characters in multimedia software and online applications that pop up on the screen to explain rules, provide hints, or prompt the user to use the program’s features. They can be human or nonhuman, animated or static. What is their role in learning? Read more about the research behind the use of pedagogical agents and strategies to make the most of their learning potential. To read the full article on this subject, click here .


Subtopic: Learning History with Multimedia Materials

Inquiry-based instruction emphasizes learning how to be a historian, learning to evaluate, corroborate, and synthesize multiple conflicting sources. Digital multimedia materials make the exploration of multiple sources more accessible to students with special needs. Find practical resources and strategies for incorporating digital materials into inquiry-based history instruction. To read the full article on this subject, click here .


Subtopic: Learning Mathematics with Virtual Manipulatives

Abstract concepts are essential to understanding and performing mathematics. Manipulatives represent concretely the abstract concepts and link these concepts to prior knowledge. Virtual manipulatives are basically digital “objects” that can be manipulated, usually with a computer mouse, much like the more familiar physical manipulatives. Discover the research support and practical suggestions for incorporating these powerful learning tools into mathematics instruction. See the extensive list of resources. To read the full article on this subject, click here .


Subtopic: Learning with Computer Games and Simulations

Games and simulations are highly interactive and engaging, with many user-controlled features. But how do educators harness their power to support learning? Find an overview of this research as well as guidance on choosing an educational game, and helpful resources. To read the full article on this subject, click here .


Subtopic: Learning to Read with Multimedia Materials

There is a steadily growing body of research showing that digital text and multimedia environments can play a significant supporting role in reading instruction. Explore the literature base and cutting-edge innovations while finding implementation strategies, guidance on choosing programs, and resources to power up your reading instruction. To read the full article on this subject, click here .


Subtopic: Learning a Second Language with Multimedia Materials

Multimedia materials and experiences can boost students’ language learning, whether it is English or a foreign language. Consider how multimedia can support students’ access to comprehensible input, output and interaction. Find resources and guidance on choosing an appropriate program or experience. To read the full article on this subject, click here .


Subtopic: Using Multimedia Tools to Help Students Learn Science

Scientists routinely use a number of technology tools in their daily practice. Students can use similar technologies and multimedia tools to work like scientists and build their reasoning and scientific inquiry skills. Review the research on and strategies to implement these powerful technology tools in the science classroom. See the extensive list of resources. To read the full article on this subject, click here . Or click to the section on modeling tools and multiple representations; tools that facilitate collaboration and discourse; or simulations and virtual labs.


Subtopic: Multimedia Instruction for Students Who Are Deaf

A wide range of emerging multimedia materials and tools can support the learning and communication needs of students who are deaf or hard of hearing. This article includes implementation strategies and resources that support deaf students and their teachers in regular classrooms. To read the full article on this subject, click here .


Subtopic: Multimedia Instruction of Social Skills

Many students with disabilities struggle with interpersonal and functional social skills. Multimedia environments offer students and their teachers an opportunity to practice new behaviors and reflect on interactions. This article includes implementation strategies and resources. To read the full article on this subject, click here .


Subtopic: Multimedia Geography Instruction

This article covers the many uses of multimedia materials to address the five themes of geography learning as endorsed by the National Geographic Society: location, place, human-environment interactions, movement, and regions. This article includes implementation strategies and resources to make learning geography more accessible to all students. To read the full article on this subject, click here .


Subtopic: Multi-User Virtual Environments for Education

Researchers and developers are bringing cognitive science to bear on developing online multi-user virtual environments and computer software games for educational purposes. This article includes research directions, implementation strategies, and resources to inform teachers and caregivers about the new generation of educational games. To read the full article on this subject, click here .


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