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>Learner Characteristics
Learner Aptitude
Learner Motivation
Children's Abilities
Performance Tests
Sissel Guttormsen Schär
Samuel Schluep
Updated: 2004-05-05
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Learner Characteristics: Elaborate learner characteristics before choosing media.

Characteristics of the learner have impact on learning. Characteristics of the learner include the learner's current skills, knowledge, and attitudes. The following principles describe learner characteristics that are associated with learning from educational multimedia. Although only a handful of studies examined this principle, the results of these studies suggest that multimedia is most effective for people with low prior knowledge or aptitude in the domain being learned. This may be because experts have prior knowledge that can be used to understand and integrate the new information, but novices lack this advantage. Also, novices may not know which information is important and on which information they should focus their attention. Learners with high aptitude appear to be able to learn from relatively non-elaborate media such as text, but low-aptitude learners benefit most from the elaborate and explanatory advantages offered by multimedia. High-aptitude learners may be good learners, regardless of the media used to present the information. [Najjar01]

Learner capacity: Design presentations to support the learner's capacity.

This is a general guideline reminding you to focus on the goal group of your design. Capacity aspects include various features as: computer experience, educational level, experience in the topic. Different authors also regard individual aspects as intelligence, spatial ability, aptitude, creativity etc.

Information Overflow: Do not cause information overflow.

Learners who are new to a field of knowledge may simply view a supplementary animation without trying to understand the information it shows. Animation or video does not seem to be helpful when the information to be learned is difficult for learners to understand, the information does not need visual support, or the learners do not practice with an interactive animation. [Guttormsen_ip]

No Distraction: Do not distract the learner.

Humour does not improve motivation because it can distract the learner from the instructional goals and interfere with comprehension. Irrelevant media, such as unrelated pictures or motion may distract learners and actually decrease learning performance. [Najjar01]

Dynamic Media for Attention: Dynamic media can be useful as an attention guide.

Motion can serve as a special stimulus to guide the student's attention. [Park93]

Learner Aptitude: Design presentations to fit the learner aptitude.

Aptitude refers to people's ability to learn easily and quickly: In everyday language it means that someone has talent for a subject, e.g. mathematics.

Learner Motivation: Design presentations to increase learner motivation.
Children's Abilities: Design presentations to fit children's abilities.
Younger Children: Use auditory rather than visual information for younger children.

The ability to process auditory information seems to develop earlier than the ability to process visual information. [Najjar01]


Guttormsen Schär, S., Zimmermann, P., Zuberbühler, H.J., Widmer, R.M., Krueger, H. (in preparation). Presentation of process oriented information content with multimedia: empirical studies with a differential approach. Available at the author.


Najjar, L.J. (2001). Principles of educational multimedia user interface design. In Andrews, R.W.S.D.H (ed.). Readings in training and simulation. Santa Monica, CA, pp. 146-158.


Park, O.-C., Hopkins, R. (1993). Instructional conditions for using visual displays. A review. Instructions Science, vol. 21, pp. 427-449.