2: Multimedia Principles

Richard Mayer has studied and researched extensively to derive principles that increase learning in multimedia modules.  We explicitly use them to guide our modules.  We will go through the principles, then show screen shots to illustrate.

What material to include

  1. Multimedia Principle – People learn better from words and pictures (than words alone).
  2. Modality Principle – Learning is better from graphics and narrations (than animation and on-screen text).
  3. Redundancy Principle – Minimize on-screen text if already discussed in graphics and narration.
  4. Coherence Principle – Exclude extraneous words, pictures and sounds.

Therefore we include graphics, narration, minimal text and eliminate distracting image.


(Screen shots from abdo pain module, showing location of pain, pain character and general exam)


Arranging the material

  1. Signaling Principle – Use cues that highlight the organization of the essential material.
  2. Pre-training Principle – Introduce the names and characteristics of the main concepts.
  3. Spatial Contiguity Principle – Put corresponding words and pictures near to each other on the screen.
  4. Temporal Contiguity Principle – Present corresponding words and pictures simultaneously rather than successively.
  5. Segmenting Principle – Present in user-paced segments rather than as a continuous unit.

Therefore, we highlight, frame and introduce the concepts in the beginning.  We also use in-time narration and graphics in segmented videos. (Most videos are less than 15 minutes long.)


(Screen shots from abdo pain module, showing overall organization, paced discussion with in-time narration and graphics)


Presenting the material

  1. Personalization Principle – Use words in conversational style rather than formal.
  2. Voice Principle – Narrate in a friendly human voice rather than a machine/computer voice.
  3. Image Principle – People do not necessarily learn better when the speaker’s image is added to the screen.

Therefore, we narrate in person in a conversational tone.  We also chose not to display speaker image.


Video describing a few of the above principles:

Theory behind Multimedia Principles + Examples


Clark RC and Mayer R (2008), e-Learning and the science of instruction: Proven Guidelines for Consumers and Designers of Multimedia Learning (2nd ed.), San Francisco, CA, John Wiley and Sons

Tip 3

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