Multimedia learning in games, simulations, and microworlds
The Cambridge handbook of multimedia learning (2005)

This chapter reviews and critiques the scientific evidence and research methods studying the use of games, simulations, and microworlds as multimedia learning tools. This chapter focuses on interactive educational multimedia, which is distinguished from scripted forms of educational multimedia by the degree to which users participate in and control the multimedia software. This chapter also uses the distinction between explanation and experience to understand the unique design opportunities of interactive educational multimedia. The strongest empirical evidence comes from the simulation literature, especially that related to questions about how to design a simulation’s interface to provide feedback and questions about students engaged in discovery learning activities. Microworld research is less empirically rigorous with evidence continuing to remain largely anecdotal based on implementation reports. Research on gaming is the most transitory, ranging from early research on learning from playing games to learning from designing games. Current debates among educational researchers about what constitutes scientific research are particularly relevant to anyone interested in research about interactive multimedia due to the increased use of qualitative research methodologies and the newly emerging trend toward design experiments.
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