Instructional design/Reducing cognitive load in multimedia instruction/What’s Going On In There?: How the mind works in multimedia instruction

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Understanding how the leaner's mind works is paramount in designing multimedia instruction that will provide opportunities for meaningful learning. Cognitive science has made 3 basic assumptions about the learning process:

Dual Channel

Under this assumption, humans are thought to process information through two “channels.” There is the auditory/verbal channel for processing auditory input and verbal representations and a visual/pictorial channel for processing visual input and pictorial representations.

Limited Capacity

Now the issue of Limited Capacity comes into play because even with two channels operating, cognitive processing is limited in both channels. Keep in mind that working memory can only hold between 5-9 pieces or “chunks” of information at a time.

Active Processing

In order for meaningful learning to take place, Active Processing must be enabled and that means heavy duty cognition in both the verbal and visual channels. In multimedia learning, there are five cognitive processes that need to be engaged in order for active processing to “kick in”

  • Selecting words from the presented material
  • Selecting pictures from the presented material
  • Organizing words selected
  • Organizing pictures selected
  • Integrating not only the words and pictures but also matching them up with what the leaner already knows.

But how does that look? Enter the Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning.

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