Design principles of multimedia learning (Mayer)

Based on 10 years of research in the 90’s, Richard E. Mayer provides the pedagogical world ‘Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning’. This theory places multimedia instruction at the center. There are several takes on multimedia. The initial take on multimedia concerns teaching materials using multiple channels. An example of this is the provision of graphics and written text. The second view does not emphasize on the processing channels, but on the senses which are used for receiving the information. An example is providing narration and animation, or giving a lecture with slides.

In general Mayer claims that multimedia instruction encourages verbal and visual mental imagery, which can be integrated with the available foreknowledge, as a result of which  new knowledge is constructed.

According to Mayer, you need to consider the following three basic assumptions when providing information:

1.The dual channel assumption which states that people learn through an auditory / verbal channel (information provided to us via the spoken word, and so we hear) and a pictorial/ visual channel (information that reaches us through images and we therefore see). Both channels interact during the acquisition of information

2.The limited capacity assumption states that only a fraction of what a person takes in through both acquisition channels can be retained in the working memory.

3. The active processing assumption which states that it is people’s innate tendency to base themselves on their previous experiences in selecting and processing new information.

Mayer suggests design principles for digital learning resources, based on these assumptions.