In the context of multimedia artefacts developed to support learning, interactivity can and should be more than allowing the user to choose his own path in an application, only by “point and click” through a bunch of buttons and menus (Cairncross & Mannion, 2001). If we aim to foster deeper learning, then the applications should actively engage the user, challenging him with tasks to accomplish – allowing for the application of the new knowledge being presented/introduced.

It is also important to stimulate the reflection about the experiences that are carried out. There are several ways for the user to interact with multimedia artefacts: manipulating virtual objects on a screen, or different variables when simulating experiences or industrial processes. This allows them to safely experiment and analyse the consequences of choosing either a correct or an incorrect path, promoting a deeper understanding of a given subject. Users may even have access to alternative paths that may have positive or negative consequences. Interactivity is also closely related to role-playing, allowing the user to take into account a variety of perspectives. There may also be immediate assessments, with immediate feedback: the results may be stored allowing developers and users to monitor progress. Interactivity can also be used in the context of synchronous and asynchronous communication between groups of learners’ through the use of email, discussion forums and videoconferencing. This stimulates the users to apply the new knowledge being introduced in the context of a discussion with others, while at the same time facing him with alternative interpretations, helping to clarify any misconceptions. For McKendree et al (1997), learning can be stimulated when the users/learners can have access to the discussions of previous groups who studied the same topics. Allowing the learner to stop and reflect about the material that he is visualizing is very important, and can be accomplished through the inclusion of self-assessment questions.

  • Cairncross, S. & Mannion, M. (2001). Interactive multimedia and learning: Realizing the benefits. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 38(2), 156-164.
  • McKendree, J., Reader, W. & Hammond, N. (1995). The homeophatic fallacy in learning from hypertext. Interactions, 2(3), 74-82.