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Evaluating Multimodal Texts

blendedlearning's picture

Facing declining retention rates and dropping grades, many universities are looking for new ways to increase student engagement and, as a result, educational outcomes. Ball State University's Institute for Digital Education and Entertainment, in an attempt to develop tools that would engage students and teachers in a way that took advantage of web-based technology, turned to multimodal learning strategies.

Ball State came up with a resource called Vizi, an online-based platform that uses multiple forms of media, integrated into targeted courseware that is flexible and engaging. While Vizi is an interesting platform in and of itself, Ball State's research and analysis of Vizi's results are what's really interesting: the designers behind Vizi wanted to use multiple channels to simultaneously engage many parts of the learner's brain. Part of their design was to create sections and sub-sections whose objectives students had to meet to move on, and to assess their understanding. They also attempted to integrate both linear and nonlinear paths.

The results, both qualitative and quantitative, were impressive.

According to their findings, "students who used Vizi's multimodal texts outperformed those who used the traditional texts — in most cases by significant margins (as much as two full grades)." They found that students not only found the multimodal platforms more engaging and user-friendly, but also that their measurable outcomes were significantly improved. While Vizi itself may not be for you, if the results it received are any indication than there may be a lot of untapped potential in multimodal educational platforms.