Interactive multimedia

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There seem to be three kinds of definitions:

Weak definitions

Interactive multimedia is multimedia which gives the user some navigational controls. A good example is the Internet.

Interactive multimedia “allows two-way interaction with multimedia course material, another computer, or another user with direct response to the input, as opposed to one-way communication from TV, video, and other non-responsive media. Interactive attributes commonly include data or text entry, mouse input, touch screens, voice commands, video capture, and real-time interaction.” Cyber Media Creations e-learning Glossary


Englobing definition

Interactive multimedia can also be interpreted as large subset of educational technology, in particular CBT and CBL. Alessi and Trollop (2001:10) start from a general definition of “the process of instruction [that] includes the presentation of of information to learners; guidance of leaners' first interaction with the material; learners preacticing the material to enhance fluency and retention; and, finally, assessment of learns to determine how well they have learned the material and what they should do next.”. Computers can be used for all these four phases (e.g. as combination of different tools and face to face interactions), but all four phases do need to implemented in either way. Based on this stance, the authors define eitht methodologies of Interactive Multimedia (IMM) in their textbook:

Strong definitions

Interactive multimedia is a multimedia system that lets the user do things.


A note on interactivity

From Alessi and Trollop's (2001:10-12) "methodologies for facilitating learning", we can make up the following table that shows which educational technology is best suited for which instructional component. We also showed in the table that interactivity is most demanded in the "guiding the learner" and "practising phase".

You also should be aware that the authors define "Guiding the learner" as functional requirement that the learner should interactivitly interact with the material. E.g. in a textbook reading context through review questions, or in classroom interaction through teacher's questions.

MultimediaType Information Presentation Guiding the learner Practicing Learner Assessment
Required Interactivitylow medium highdepends
Use of technology types ....
Tutorial muchmuch (if well done) littlelittle
Hypermediamuchlearner driven littlelittle
Drilllittlemedium muchdepends
Simulationdepends dependsmuchrarely Simulations usually are conducted over a longer period and enage other tools
Game littledependsmuch

Tools and open endedlittledepends (e.g. calculators) muchrarelyDistinguish between simple tools and [[cognitive tools] like microworlds
Testslittlelittle littlemuch
WBTdependsdepends dependsdependsThe web is just a delivery medium

According to this figure, required Interactivity varies with different stages of learning (of course there are also differences according to pedagogic strategy). What's more important in the context of this definition of interactive multimedia, is that at some point in the instructional process there must be Interactivity. At least, when learners practise. If the computer program doesn't allow for interactivity, then off-computer activities must be organized.

See also interactivity, first principles of instruction and instructional design model.


  • Alessi, Stephen. M. & Trollop, Stanley. R., (2001) Multimedia for Learning (3rd Edition), Pearson Allyn & Bacon, ISBN 0-205-27691-1.
  • Herrington, Jan And R. Olivere (1999), Using Situated Learning and Multimedia to Investigate Higher-Order Thinking, Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 8 (4), 401-422.
  • Sampaio, P. N. and Courtiat, J. P. 2000. A formal approach for the presentation of interactive multimedia documents. In Proceedings of the Eighth ACM international Conference on Multimedia (Marina del Rey, California, United States). MULTIMEDIA '00. ACM Press, New York, NY, 435-438. Abstract/PDF
  • Park, Innwoo, Michael J. Hannafin, Empirically-based guidelines for the design of interactive multimedia, Educational Technology Research and Development, Volume 41, Issue 3, Sep 1993, Pages 63 - 85, DOI 10.1007/BF02297358 - PDF