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Comput Med Imaging Graph. 2005 Mar-Apr;29(2-3):223-33.

Designing high-quality interactive multimedia learning modules.

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Education and Multimedia Applications, Stanford University School of Medicine, SUMMIT @ Wallenberg Hall, 450 Serra Mall, Building 160, Stanford, CA 94305-2055, USA.


Modern research has broadened scientific knowledge and revealed the interdisciplinary nature of the sciences. For today's students, this advance translates to learning a more diverse range of concepts, usually in less time, and without supporting resources. Students can benefit from technology-enhanced learning supplements that unify concepts and are delivered on-demand over the Internet. Such supplements, like imaging informatics databases, serve as innovative references for biomedical information, but could improve their interaction interfaces to support learning. With information from these digital datasets, multimedia learning tools can be designed to transform learning into an active process where students can visualize relationships over time, interact with dynamic content, and immediately test their knowledge. This approach bridges knowledge gaps, fosters conceptual understanding, and builds problem-solving and critical thinking skills-all essential components to informatics training for science and medicine. Additional benefits include cost-free access and ease of dissemination over the Internet or CD-ROM. However, current methods for the design of multimedia learning modules are not standardized and lack strong instructional design. Pressure from administrators at the top and students from the bottom are pushing faculty to use modern technology to address the learning needs and expectations of contemporary students. Yet, faculty lack adequate support and training to adopt this new approach. So how can faculty learn to create educational multimedia materials for their students? This paper provides guidelines on best practices in educational multimedia design, derived from the Virtual Labs Project at Stanford University. The development of a multimedia module consists of five phases: (1) understand the learning problem and the users needs; (2) design the content to harness the enabling technologies; (3) build multimedia materials with web style standards and human factors principles; (4) user testing; (5) evaluate and improve design.

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