Current and Future Impact of Hypermedia on Education
The current widespread educational use of hypermedia systems predicts an even heavier reliance on these products in classrooms of the future. Educators recognize and use these systems when they see the powerful capabilities they offer to enhance classroom learning.
- Increased motivation — Hypermedia programs offer such varied options that most people seem to enjoy using them. Students who usually struggle to complete a project or term paper often will tackle a hypermedia project enthusiastically. Many educators believe the most important characteristic of hypermedia is its ability to encourage students to be proactive learners.
- Flexible learning modes — Hypermedia programs can draw on such diverse tools that they truly offer something for students who excel in any of what Gardner calls "intelligences". For example a student who may not be good at written expression but has visual aptitude can document learning with sound or pictures.
- Development of creative and critical thinking skills — The tremendous access to hypertext and hypermedia tools opens up a multitude of creative avenues for both students and teachers. Creation of hypermedia products requires that the learner constantly make decisions and evaluate progress, thus encouraging students to apply higher order thinking skills. Brown (2007) suggests that multimedia design is a complex and generative activity for learners and supports the development of metacognitive skills, problem-solving strategies, creative freedom, and self-awareness of individual learning styles under demanding project-based conditions.
- Improved writing and process skills — Carlin-Menter and Shuell (2003) find that by engaging students in multimedia design during the writing process, two-dimensional linear thinking is replaced with multidimensional thinking with regard to story, characters, and context. Multimedia and hypermedia authoring tools can help students generate new and different perspectives on organizing and presenting information, ultimately formulating new insights into the writing process. Instead of viewing writing as one long stream of text, students now see it as chunks of information to be linked.
Hypermedia tools also permit sophisticated evaluations of learning through incorporation of databases to record and archive student use and progress. In the process of using hypermedia, people are said to "leave a track" (Simonson & Thompson, 1994), which may be useful for teachers in analyzing how students approach learning tasks and the various paths learners explore within an array of content. At present, Internet-based learning environments are being designed to apply pattern-recognition techniques from the field of artificial intelligence to help schools assess student mastery of higher order cognitive skills. Bagui (1998) says that multimedia "may have unique capabilities to facilitate learning because of the parallels between multimedia and the natural way people learn" (p. 4), that is, through visual information and imagery.
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