Essay: Multimedia Learning Systems

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  • Subject area(s): Education
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  • Published on: 14th June 2012
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Multimedia Learning Systems

Nowadays, traditional teaching methods are not enough to teach efficiently. The continuous inventions and evolutions in all information technology fields open new channels and opportunities to enhance teaching and educational methods. Multimedia means the use of computers to present text, graphics, video, animation, and sound in a concerted way. Multimedia refers to computer-mediated information that is presented concurrently in more than one medium. It consists not necessarily all of the following elements, such as text; still graphic images; motion graphics; animations; hypermedia; photographs; video; and audio, i.e., sounds, music, and narration (Sawsan, Izzat, Mohammed Al-Kabi & Fatima, 2012). Multimedia can support multiple representations of the same piece of information in a variety of formats.
Multimedia courseware is the use of different communications mediums within a single computer program to present information. It has contributed a lot to higher teaching and learning in English language. Multimedia courseware is one of the solutions in dealing with students differences in learning styles and knowledge background since it integrates media elements that can engage human information retrieval methods which are visual, auditory, reading and kinaesthetic (Syazwan, Wan Fatimah & Yew, 2011).
Multimedia learning systems offer a potentially venue for improving student understanding about language. Originally multimedia was used for computer games. But now, multimedia has been extended into dozens of different applications including the field of computer-aided language learning (Yadav, 2006). The benefits of incorporating multimedia elements into a computer program include the ability to better explain concepts and support the learning experience with the use of senses other than just sight. Learners can create more cognitive paths allowing quicker retrieval of information. Hence, teachers should fully utilize the modern education technology so that the student can acquire effectively.
Keywords: Multimedia courseware, English language, teaching and learning

The development of multimedia technology has changed the way people learn, obtain various information as well as in interpreting information. By using the Internet, students have access to information from various resources quickly and easily. The use of information technology has also influenced the educational system in Malaysia (Azidah & Muhammad Faizal, 2013). The exposure to the Internet has brought significant challenges to the English teaching and learning. English language is an important medium of communication and has been accepted as the official language all around the world. Computers can enrich teaching techniques and provide the capability to control and manage a lot of teaching materials. Traditional learning patterns mostly utilize face to face methods to deliver educational materials during the use of classrooms to students. The ability to use computers to interact with students allows teachers to apply it in teaching and learning process to enable easier and attractive classroom teaching. Technology also helps to stimulate students senses, especially the audio and visual sense in which the effect is higher in the senses of learning compare to others.
Computer-assisted instruction such as multimedia or interactive software programs provides information in sequential modes to increase students' knowledge. Therefore, multimedia supports the transferring of knowledge sufficiently and offers good environments for students to avoid feeling bored in the classroom. The most significant impact of multimedia is the ability to transform tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge so that it is easier to transfer (Omar, Daw & Qais, 2013). Students are satisfied with multimedia and it increases their motivation whereas participation allows them to maintain the process of learning for a long period of time compared with traditional classroom methods.
Based on analysis done by Shyamlee & Phil. (2012), there are seven necessity of apply multimedia technology to teaching. This include to cultivate students' interest in study, to promote students' communication capacity, to widen students' knowledge to gain an insightful understanding to western culture, to improve teaching effect, to improve interaction between teacher and student, to creates a context for language teaching and to provide flexibility for course content. Gilakjani (2012) also agrees that the potential pedagogical value and rationale for using classroom media are to raise interest level, to enhance understanding and to increase memorability.
Besides that, according to AiniArifah & Norizan (2008), students respond to information differently. Thus, teacher can take this advantage by using many different formats and modes to teach, such as combination of lecture, text and hands-on laboratory to convey information. With advance of information evolutions, students are familiar with cell phones, laptops with wireless internet and may be some other high tech gadgets. Student may feel boring and uninteresting to present to them the course material on a board or direct rehearsal. The educational system may need to utilize and compete with the new Information and communication technologies and benefit from them (Sawsan et al, 2012). There are lots of possibilities of such utilization such as using simulation and animation to present some of the complex boring problems in a more appealing format.
With the development of technology, multimedia is increasingly accepted as a means of English language instruction. More English teachers state that teaching English with multimedia makes the English class more active than the teacher-centered model. In traditional English classrooms, instructors have to spend time on writing the vital language points and important information on the chalkboard. In the multimedia classrooms, the teacher can use the button and keyboard to show significant content in a few seconds as long as he or she is familiar with the operation of the multimedia.
Grammar is usually taught by using traditional method before the availability of computer in the classroom teaching. Traditional method emphasizes the teachers' responsibility of conveying the knowledge and correcting the errors. As a result, students are only to receive and store information taught in the class. They were less thinking and analyzing. Over the years, more students tire of this teacher-centered model of English learning and complain that the English class is very boring and monotonous and they want something new and different. Grammar lesson is always seemed complex to students, and teaching grammar is challenging (AiniArifah & Norizan, 2008). Multimedia learning systems offer a potentially venue for improving student understanding about English language. Teachers search for the most effective way to create a better foreign language teaching and learning environment through multimedia technologies.
With the advance of technologies, coursewares with multimedia elements and interactive contents have emerged to assist English language teaching. Multimedia learning promotes student understanding by mixing words and pictures. For example, animations are processed in the visual or pictorial channel and English spoken words such as narrations are processed in the auditory or verbal channel. Students will be engaged in the language learning effectively via the attractive pictures, animation or sound. According to Faizah & Nazeri (2009), students can use courseware to study grammar and with the guidance from a skilled teacher, grammar can be learned effectively and interestingly. The courseware to teach grammar can be strengthened with other multimedia elements like video and animations and these will help students to understand complex concept in grammar.
According to AiniArifah & Norizan (2008), multimedia technology enhance learning by its ability to combine pictures, diagrams, sound, texts, image and graphics with appropriate animation and simulation that can stimulate learners mind and encourage learning motivation. The researchers also found that an enriched-lecture multimedia format by using HTML and Web browsers makes the tutorials flexible learning tools. With the advent of Internet, Web allows the incorporation of animation, moving pictures, and sound into lessons, which extends their abilities to present materials that encourage student interaction with the subject matter. Multimedia conveys information quickly and effectively to all students and keeps them interested in learning.
Based on a study done by Azidah & Muhammad Faizal (2013), the results of their study show positive user acceptance of learning via the web simulations, namely on the design and content of education. Interactive websites with simulation and multimedia elements also has the potential in delivering and support of the constructivist learning theory which focuses on student centered learning. It is also suggested that by using web-based simulation as a teaching and learning strategy has the potential to increase individual learning experiences, particularly in the era of information technology. By using the web-based virtual simulation, the teaching and learning process is no longer teacher centered but is a student-centered. In this simulation process they are required to think, analyze situations and think critically on how to resolve the problem. In addition students can master skills such as question and answer, the acquisition and use of resource base learning.
Multimedia is not the substitute for teachers (Gilakjani, 2012). Students can learn on their own according to their plans or purposes and teachers can act more as a guide rather than a knowledge-giver. Teachers are always the facilitator of the whole class, whether in the multimedia classroom or in the traditional classroom. A quality teacher would do more than press the button on the multimedia computer technology. They would apply teaching methodologies accumulated from the many years of teaching experience from language teachers and experts while adding the use of multimedia in the teaching of English.
In spite of advantages of application of multimedia technology to English class teaching has to improve teaching effect, there are many problems existing in practical teaching. Multimedia is a high-end computer systems. Sound, images, animation, and video constitute large amounts of data. The prerequisites for using multimedia include access to computers with related software. The user must possess a minimum level of computer literacy in order to exploit the capabilities of this medium for learning. Those who are unfamiliar with the production and design of multimedia courseware or packages can be equally complicating. To make teaching of grammar more effective, it should be supported with suitable teaching method with teacher themselves skilled in computer. The training of teacher in teaching using computer should be done on a regular basis (Faizah & Nazeri, 2009). The school administration must come up with systematic training courses to prepare the teachers for teaching by using computer and confidently plan the integration of computer in grammar teaching. The schools must equip with computer facilities to make sure that every teacher and student has the opportunity to have technological-based teaching and learning environment.
A study done by Jayakaran & Vahid (2011) to determine the efficacy of courseware from the perspective of learning-teaching indicated that the courseware had a domineering role throughout the lesson, instructing, modeling and providing feedback. According to their study, teacher's role was reduced to that of a computer operator while the learners followed the instructions of the courseware and were seldom prompted to initiate any communication activity without the stimulus provided by the teaching courseware. An analysis done by Shyamlee & Phil. (2012) also point out that the introduction of multimedia technology featuring audio, visual, textual effect has results in lack of communication between teachers and students. In reality, not all multimedia courseware in the market are suitable and usable for the users (Syazwan et al, 2011). Hence, the users must be sure that the courseware has been tested and verified by the developer in terms of its effectiveness for delivering the subject to the learners which is the main criteria of accepting a new courseware.
According to Faizah & Nazeri (2009), introduction of computer in language teaching will make it effective is not true. There are many other factors attributed to the effectiveness of using computer in teaching grammar including the subjects and the particular grammatical items taught. Using computer without considering the pedagogical aspects associated with teaching of language or any other subjects will make the practice ineffective. The introduction of computer in teaching should also come with appropriate teaching strategy. It needs a complete rethinking of how effective teaching can be carried out in classroom. A study done by Chen & Liu (2012) also pointed out a few problems among the application of multimedia technology to the teaching and learning. Teachers may become excessive dependent on the teaching courseware that they neglect their teacher role as an evaluator, facilitator, constructor, and consultant.
In conclusion, a broad-based application of various types of technology is likely to be positively received as a useful learning resource by students. The application of technology also has the potential to increase interest and improve motivation to study English. Multimedia provides a complex multi-sensory experience in exploring our world through the presentation of information through text, graphics, images, audio and video (Vaughan, 2006). Multimedia also provides all kinds of information, creates abundant learning scenario, and combines existing technology, making language learning to have more assisted resources. Students who are being taught in the traditional method are less excited and motivated during the process of learning. Furthermore, they are unable to repeat the same sector more than once. Due to traditional methods text materials and black and white board, which does not contain audio, images or videos, students find it hard to motivate their learning process.
Multimedia has been widely used in educational technologies. It is also expected that future will see more of the utilization of such tools in education. However, multimedia is not the substitute for teachers. Multimedia and e-learning tools are only the supplement to traditional classes and not as a replacement. Teachers are always the facilitator of the whole class, whether in the multimedia classroom or in the traditional classroom. Students are not supposed to teach the subject only to score in examination but they also need to practice what they learn in their daily life. Teachers should also be mindful of how to best use multimedia in a lecture format to enhance student learning outcomes.
Result from the usability testing on the multimedia courseware indicate positive acceptance from the students. More efforts are needed to create new programs using multimedia elements and multimedia authoring tools to fulfill a content-rich learning software and courseware to different students. Multimedia doesn't mean only animation, or image and video related products. Those maybe incorporated with programming and other methods to provide a portal or an application. However, there are still rooms for improvement before gaining maximum acceptance from the students. Further research is needed to more fully understand the specific learning processes by which the technologies used in the present study benefited student learning.

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