“University and Industry Partnerships: Creating Multimedia Solutions to Solve Unique Industry Problems” by Mohler

  • ©James L. Mohler




    University and Industry Partnerships: Creating Multimedia Solutions to Solve Unique Industry Problems



    The goal of communication is for a message to be conveyed, comprehended, and either applied or acted upon. The ramifications of this sequence include not only the communication process (information – sender – channel – receiver), but also retention and application of information in various situations, which signifies that a transfer of knowledge has successfully occurred. Information presentation without cognitive incorporation, comprehension, or application is meaningless.

    Planned interactions are known to have a very positive effect on learning and retention. Learning theorists proclaim that to reach an objective it must be practiced to help the learner cognitively incorporate it. The interaction, or “doing the objective,” helps the learner reach the objective and recall the information, skill, or behavior that was practiced. Similarly, retention increases when receivers of information are able to interact with the information, particularly when the information is presented visually. Interactive multimedia requires internal user processing and focuses on the needs of the user, thereby requiring the user to actively think about the information being presented, make predetermined decisions, and presumably acquire the information or skills being presented.

    Information becomes powerful, becomes knowledge, when it gains personal interpretation, comprehension, meaning, retention, and use. The purpose of interactive multimedia is to personally transfer a meaning or message from one individual to another. Traditional information distribution has been insufficient in this area – transferring the real message behind the abstract letters and data through interaction. It is through interaction that information is internalized and becomes knowledge that is alive and useful within the individual. This makes interactive multimedia a powerful medium for education and training. It is also a very adaptive tool in marketing situations, where persuasive flair helps change an attitude or belief.

    Educators and presenters alike have known for a long time that information is much more readily comprehended and assimilated when it is tailored to the audience. In traditional media, a linear progression from simple to complex normally used to accomplish this purpose. However, traditional communication media cannot be everything to everyone. Writers and educators alike must cognitively organize and structure information according to their own constructs, leading the reader from what they deem “simple” to what they deem “complex.” Therefore, books or other devices may be too difficult or too base for certain individuals.

    Interactive multimedia, on the other hand, provides an avenue for creation of materials that may reduce the author’s need to assume certain characteristics of the audience. Multiple levels of depth can be provided to satisfy various skill levels of students. If the student has no background knowledge, the lowest level of entry may be used as the starting point. If some requisite knowledge already exists, the student may begin at an intermediate or advanced level as appropriate. Interactive multimedia improves the possibility of matching the needs of the user with the available content, allowing the communication tool to be several things to several people.

    Using this paradigm, over the past two years the Department of Technical Graphics at Purdue University has been developing interactive materials for several national and international companies with relative success. Products have ranged from educational and training products to marketing CDROMs. Many companies are requesting the department’s assistance in developing multimedia- and hypermedia-based solutions that emphasize interaction.


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