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Use of Multimedia as a New Educational Technology

The use of multimedia technology in social work education predates the web. Innovative social work educators have incorporated images, audio, and video into the curriculum to enrich and enliven teaching ever since it was possible to do so. This paper reviews the literature on multimedia applications in social work education, and places this work in the context of the broader theoretical and empirical literature on learning with multimedia. The debate about the impact of media on learning is discussed; the concept of ‘affordances’ for learning is introduced; and research informed principles for effective multimedia design are identified.

The paper concludes that the robustness of social work studies of multimedia learning would be improved if they were more obviously connected with concepts, frameworks and findings from the wider learning technology literature; if the instructional methods they embodied were more explicitly described and more directly founded on principles of effective multimedia design; and if evaluations consistently included appropriate measures of learning gains as well as learners’ perceptions.