Saturday, January 19, 2008

Visual meaning readings: multimedia learning & marketing

Please make your reactions to these papers comments on this post.

Multimedia learning, and more of the marketing perspective:

Richard Mayer. (2003). The promise of multimedia learning: using the same instructional design methods across different media. Learning and Instruction, 13, 2, 125-139..

Linda Scott and Patrick Vargas. (2007). Writing with pictures: toward a unifying theory of consumer response to images. Journal of Consumer Research, 34, 3, 341-356.




Stuart Heinrich said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Multimedia Learning:
One thing I found interesting was the topic of coherence. The authors state that extraneous information makes deep learning harder. I'm sure this was a very short presentation because it was on how lightning works. What about a longer presentation that requires more attention from someone? I think there's a definite fatigue factor for the uptake of information; breaks, anecdotes, stories, etc. give some recovery time and allow better concentration for me. I'm sure there have been studies done on this, I'm curious as to what their results are.

Right after this they discuss contiguity, which seems straightforward to me. I point it out because I've already experienced this effect, and frequently: either latex or human editors have no concept of this because research papers often have horribly layouts with figures in all the wrong places. These authors, at least, were careful about this.

Writing with Pictures:
This paper, much like the last, often had the "this is done in practice already" feel but it is good to see some empirical results to enforce the ideas.

I thought the introduction's discussion on language forms to be quite interesting. It was merely to set up their ideas about multimedia later, but fascinating nonetheless. Another tangential thing mentioned is the way advertisers change the ad content but rarely change logos and slogans. These logos and slogans become infused with the myriad messages, associations, etc.

As for the meat of the paper, the most interesting thing I found was that there are many image properties that contribute to just one thought about an image. The authors point out that having a "colorful" image does not necessarily translate to a consumer thinking the product is colorful.

The test subjects also responded very heavily to the Colorful Cat being strongly associated with a product for children. Pastel or saturated colors and the hand-drawn look of the image obviously convey this. However, why is this so? Is it because children's books are like this? Will our sense of something being for children change as children's media changes? I ask this because it seems more and more cartoons are either 3D or use computers to make a 2D ones better (and thus less "by hand").

Stuart Heinrich said...

Writing with Pictures:

The authors spend a great deal of discussion on analyzing whether writing is based on speech or visual interpretation. The relevancy of this debate is lost to me, but it seems evident that the answer is not either one of the two, but both.

Primarily, they try to analyze the meaning inherent in images. The fact that images convey a wealth of information is pretty common knowledge -- evidenced by the phrase, "a picture tells a thousand words." And yes, those words may not always be what you expect, and it may tell different things to different people. One sees things in the image, and relates it back to their own personal life. If one sees a cat, it will be related to cats that look similar in their own life. If they have had good or bad associations with cats, these thoughts will be reflected upon their interpretation of the image. Expression, style, camera angle, cleanliness, colors, etc -- everything contains information, and all will be interpreted in a different way by the viewer.

Given a population with a certain amount in common, there is usually a certain amount of "guaranteed" communication that can be designed in an image. As an artist who loves imagery, I would like to think that I am pretty good at recognizing and encoding some of this basic information. However, it is not easily codified because it so context dependent -- and non static.

For example, the release of a popular movie or brand can easily change peoples emotional inerpretation of any related subject matter. Thus, one cannot define the meaning based on image content alone. One might say it is futile to even study this, but simply recognize that one must actually rely on their own intuition and feelings -- or better yet, that of a study group. It seems this is more or less the conclusion of the authors anyway.

Multimedia Learning

Mayer proposes that students can learn better from severlal different factors.
a) multimedia effect: visual + verbal
b) coherence effect: less extraneous information
c) contiguity effect: related information presented together
d) personalization effecT: explained in conversational rather than formal style.

Is it really necessary to publish a paper saying everything that is known obviously to everyone already?

Mayer talks about "the promise of multimedia learning" saying that "we will be better able to communicate if we use pictures" making me wonder what planet he was educated on, because here on Earth, in my experience, all the textbooks include diagrams and figures for just this reason. Instructional videos, powerpoint presentations, figures in papers, are all used extensively to communicate the so called multimedia effect already.

Mayer's premise is that by understanding how the mind works, he can teach better. Yet his diagram of the internal workings of the mind in Figure 2 is without reference, he has no proof of this diagram, it is completely made up!