Rich multi-sensory media — designed for learning — has been with us for more than three decades. Interactive Laser Videodisc (IVD), CD-ROM, DVD, and even interactive videotape were the pioneering technologies. Today, it seems that we’ve centered on E-Learning as the multi-sensory delivery medium of choice.

And, yet, E-Learning is singularly failing to deliver on the promise so brilliantly achieved by these earlier multi-sensory technologies. The ultimate positive results of effective training — increased skills acquisition and longer retention rates (delivered so effectively by IVD and CD-ROM in the past) — have dramatically declined with the advent of E-Learning.

Why have the producers of most E-Learning courseware forgotten the lessons of multi-sensory media’s past successes? Instructional Design (so inherent in our past delivery media) has much too often been ignored by those producers who have turned over their E-Learning development to conversion technologists. The result is, far too often, converted PowerPoint presentations and repurposed written procedures — all rooted in words, phrases, sentences and paragraphs. Those may transmit limited information (but, only to the half of our population that effectively assimilates above a 4th Grade reading level). They fail to add much of anything to increased skills acquisition or longer retention rates.

Why then, should we continue to sit up and listen to the evolving promise of multi-sensory media instruction?

Because, like it or not, operatives in E-Learning creation have an important ethical responsibility. That responsibility relates to the large numbers to be educated and trained. And, because the instructional-media tools available for E-Learning today offer the best educational and training platforms-for-learning the world has ever known!

Multi-sensory media has always been a designers’ medium. In fact, the only applicable phrase for effective multi-sensory instruction — “instructional integrity” — does not belong to the new Merlins with their magic programming formulae. That phrase is the province of flesh and blood human beings, the instructional designers of yesterday, today, and (hopefully) tomorrow.

Multi-sensory media has never been an evolving electronic gadget world. It is rather one more step in a natural historical chain that has led us from Socrates and Plato to the E-Learning world of today — and, beyond.

Multi-sensory media is part of the informational and instructional evolutionary process that has taken us beyond storytelling, the printing press, and radio wave transmission. Multi-sensory media is a communication tool. It makes possible more efficient information transfer and more effective learning.

The promise of multi-sensory media will only be attained when the applications designer can effectively communicate with the users’ senses — be they sight, sound, or touch. The human animal remains a sense-taught creature. And, multi-sensory media provides the best artificial platform available for stimulating the senses of a leaner.

Get with it E-Learning! Our nation’s students and its workforce relies on you!

More on Tuesday – – –

— Bill Walton, Founder, ITC Learning
www.itclearning.com/blog/ (Tuesdays & Thursdays)
e-Mail: bwalton@itclearning.com