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Yes, interesting post. Thank you for the reference. I'd need to know more about what you meant by "media-rich learning materials" before I could discuss whether or not they should be used and if so with how much care. If by media-rich you mean a poorly edited hotch-potch of kitchen sinks hoping people will find something for everyone, of course, that is to be avoided. The use of multi-modal approaches needs to be set in a context that has (among others things) a temporal dimension, people, institutions and goals. Appropriate media combinations need to be tailored to the context. The quantitative approach will be appropriate to improving some learning situations, the qualitative to others. But some learning modes are not about the provision of information at all.

The way I look at it, learners are faced with a "media rich world" of which learning materials and systems form a tiny component.

Of course if a learner is in a really immersive environment (like a flight simulator) then the "learning materials and system" are a dominant part of the learner's world, and in such circumstances skilled designers put an enormous amount of effort (and resource) into making their art imitate life enough for the environment to be a good subsitute for real life.

In many other circumstances neither the context nor the funding permit this: I think that what Itiel Dror and Tor Nørretranders have to say supports the idea that the course designer's job is to give learners things to do that are authentic and rich, rather than to give them things to look at that are authentic and rich. The distinction may seem quite obscure, but you see "multimedia" materials that have expensive, extensive, and ultimately distracting graphics (sometimes made with little if any understanding of effective interface design), alongside prosaic, simple, and unchallenging tasks for learners to do.

Often, also, materials are designed as if the learner's device (PC or whatever) is itself the world the learner is in, rather than getting the learner to do things in the real world away from their PC, as the main part of their learning.

Glad to see we have similar reading habits. Although somewhat long-winded, from chapter 6 onwards Tor Norretranders 'The User Illusion' is outstanding.

No other profession I know suffers from the same degree of anti-intellectualism as education and training. Or should I say, suffers from non-empirical and faddish intellectualism.

As long as we languish in the fog of sociology, Vygotsky and other 50 year thories, we will continue to produce courses that suffer from chronic cognitive overload, poor encoding techniques and short-term assessment.

The four diagrams on pages 145, 146, 148, and 150 in Chapter 6 of the Penguin edition are pretty stunning, and I've been meaning for ages to scan them and write something about them. Maybe I now will. And until I do this comment will have been 100% obscure to any reader without their own copy of Nørretranders's book. 14/3/2007. Here are two of the diagrams.

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