Multimedia Design for Learning


Check out my last blog post in which I explained what multimedia learning is and briefly touched on how to incorporate it into the classroom. Today, I will delve a little deeper into how to effectively use multimedia design as an educator!

Effective Use of Multimedia Learning & Where to Start

There are many principles of multimedia learning that when used correctly, can produce an effective learning method. In Dr. Ray Pastore’s video “What is Multimedia Learning? What is Multimedia?”, he outlines 6 different multimedia learning principles to watch out for when designing a learning activity for your students. They are…

  1. Split Attention
  2. Redundancy
  3. Coherence
  4. Spatial & Temporal Contiguity
  5. Signalling
  6. Interactivity Effect

The Principles in Detail

The Split Attention Principle states that it is more effective for learning if educators use words and pictures that are “physically and temporally integrated” (Mayer, 2014, p.8). This way your students don’t have to split their attention between multiple things.

The Redundancy Principle states that presenting information twice (as it is named) is REDUNDANT! Educators don’t need to use text on the screen that repeats what they are saying out loud.

The Coherence Principle states that irrelevant information can actually hurt learning, so educators should strive to keep their content to the point.

The Spatial and Temporal Contiguity Principle states that when corresponding texts and icons are closer together, people learn better,

The Signalling Principle states that if educators “signal” what’s important for learners to understand, they are more likely to remember that piece of information.

Finally, the Interactivity Principle states that students learn best when they are able to go at their own pace. An example would be incorporating “next” and “back” buttons into an online presentation for students to use.

If these principles aren’t incorporated into your lesson plan, you can drastically increase the cognitive load of what you are trying to teach!

Cognitive load is what you can store in your brain before you start forgetting things.

Image retrieved from

Examples of Principles of Multimedia Learning

When educators “signal” what’s important for learners to understand by putting a star beside the information or by underlining it, they are more likely to remember that piece of information.

Image retrieved from

Still lost on how to incorporate the Principles of Multimedia Learning into your classroom? Watch the video below for more information! Pay attention and see if the creator is following the Principles of Multimedia Learning or not…


Mayer, R. E. (2014). The cambridge handbook of multimedia learning: 2nd edition. Santa Barbara, CA: Cambridge University Press.

Ray Pastore, Ph.D.. (2018, August 16). What is multimedia learning? What is multimedia? [Video file]. Retrieved from

UNMC E-Learning. (2015, August 10). 2 minute teacher multimedia principle. [Video file]. Retrieved from

Multimedia Learning

What is it?

Multimedia learning is as simple as it sounds. All it means is that students use words and pictures (or multiple forms of media) to learn new content! Educators are most likely already using multimedia instruction in their lesson plans without even realizing it. For example, whenever you use a video, an application, or a diagram, you are giving your students a multimedia learning experience.

A diagram is a perfect example of multimedia learning since students can use both the pictures & the text to build comprehension. Retrieved from

Research on multimedia learning has primarily been conducted by Richard E. Mayer and published in The Cambridge Handbook of Multimedia Learning. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the first of 34 chapters in the second edition of his handbook. I especially liked the analogy that Mayer used to describe the importance of multimedia learning. First, Mayer explained how a bicycle tire pump works with just words. When asked a retention question, one could easily remember words from the definition they just heard, but they would most likely struggle to comprehend or apply the information they just learned. However, once pictures are added to the verbal explanation, one would find it much easier to comprehend exactly how a bicycle tire pump functions.

As well, Mayer perfectly explains why multimedia learning is effective since “presenting both [text and pictures] is like presenting the material twice – giving the learner twice as much exposure to the explanation” (2014). When I just read text, I find it difficult to fully understand a concept. Likewise, when I see a picture, if I don’t know the correct words to describe it I need a verbal explanation to help me understand. Presenting students with multiple ways to understand a topic just gives them more of a chance to succeed- and isn’t that all educators want?

Ways to Use Multimedia Learning in the Classroom

There are many ways to easily incorporate multimedia learning into your classroom. For example, one of my favourite methods is to use sketchnote! Sketchnoting is a form of note taking where students use words, sketches and other visuals to condense the information they are trying to retain. As explained on, adding sketches to your notes “taps into parts of your brain that would lie dormant if you only use words to explore ideas” (Neill, 2017). I found sketchnoting very helpful when teaching a second language, such as French! Students could write out the vocabulary word in French, and then sketch a quick drawing of the word to understand its meaning in English.

For more information on sketch-noting, check out my blog post about it.


Mayer, R. E. (2014). The cambridge handbook of multimedia learning: 2nd edition. Santa Barbara, CA: Cambridge University Press.

Neill, D. (2017, August 21) What is sketchnoting? Verbal to Visual.