Dangers Inherent in Using Multimedia

1.0 Introduction

As the development of science and technology advances, computers, and other technological devices are continually complying with the new times development and are thus used in almost all fields. Computers and other multimedia devices are used in aiding businesses, teaching in schools, in public places for social affairs as well as at home. In the classroom, multimedia education technology has surpassed the traditional media as the best choice due to its scientifically advanced visual features (Roblyer, 2003).

However, multimedia may fail to achieve its desired effects due to the dangers that are inherent in its usage. These dangers make it hard for the multimedia to promote the positivity they are supposed to create in the field they are being used. For instance, in schools, multimedia may weaken the role of the teacher thus leading to information overmuch. It is thus important for businesses, schools, and the public to understand the dangers involved in using the multimedia to assist in building new structures that facilitate transformative learning and business transaction.

In organizations, such as healthcare facilities, video materials, and multimedia have gained prevalence in patient education and decision support. Multimedia is used to inform clients about living with certain diseases or treatment side effects to allow them to balance the benefits and risks of the procedures to arrive at preferred treatment alternatives. In schools, multimedia is a useful tool for improving the levels of learning and recall and improve motivation to act as opposed to text-based interventions (Vaughan, 2011)

1.1 Multimedia

Multimedia is defined as the combination of video, animation, sound, art, and text delivered to the receiver or viewer by computer or other digitally manipulated or electronic means (Mayer, 2009). Multimedia becomes appropriate once a user connects to electronic information. It entertains and enhances information retention through acquisition and holding attention. Multimedia is recorded for display or interaction and is accessed using information processing devices or multimedia devices. However, multimedia differs from mixed media in fine art by its broader scale.

Presentations made through multimedia are viewed by an audience on stage once they are projected or transmitted to the audience (Vaughan, 2011). The broadcasts may be live or recorded in digital or analog formats. In the public arena, multimedia may incorporate simulations and games which are accessed and played by multiple users in an online network. It may also be viewed offline using computers or simulators. Further, the digital and technological multimedia formats may be directed toward boosting the experience of the audience, such as conveying information in a faster and easier way.

By combining various forms of media content, users can increase the level of interactivity as well as end-user innovation and personalization. Technological advances have also led to the use of haptic technology to enable virtual objects to be felt. There are also technologies that involve smell and taste that are being used to augment the multimedia experience (Mayer, 2009). The multimedia content is stored in web pages, such as photo galleries and simulations with modifiable videos, animations, illustrations, events, and coefficients.

2.0 Literature Review

The use of multimedia methods to convey information and interact facilitates learning to students and decision support to business clients. However, it is prone to some dangers, for instance, in hospitals and schools it may trigger gender and racial bias by the appearance of actors or pictures of people of a certain race or gender in presentation. Studies have shown that gender and race affect people’s preferences on a great deal (Mayer & Moreno, 2003). Therefore, risks accompany the benefits of multimedia use in various decision support tools in the public, schools, and even in businesses (Baldry & Thibault, 2006). Auditory and visual aspects of multimedia may create unintentional stimuli thereby affecting the actions of the multimedia decision support tool users. The forms taken by the unintentional stimuli that influence the decision arrived at by the audience include the similarity of their gender and cultural background with that of the presentation actor in addition to the attractiveness and the socioeconomic status of the actor.

2.1 In Schools

2.1.1 Multimedia may Hinder Learning

Studies have shown that exposure to multimedia hinders learning from texts. For instance, the television can be used to educate learners through programs but at the same time make it difficult for the learners to concentrate in the classroom (Uribe, Klein & Sullivan, 2003). An instance is the television program “Sesame Street” which was found to create a psychological orientation in young viewers that caused inadequate reflectiveness and a shortened attention span. Additionally, the teaching process may involve a reprint of paper material, static images, and text, especially if the instructor lacks substantial computer technology. This escalates the dangers of lack of interest, memory and understanding on the part of the learners.

2.2.2 Inability to Highlight the Importance of Classroom Teaching

Although the use of multimedia in learning is informative, it may be hit with the danger of inability to highlight the importance of classroom teaching, especially in a practical teaching process. The importance may be ignored during the process of designing of the coursework thus providing too much information but leaving out on its importance (Steinmetz, 2012). Moreover, this problem arises when the instructor uses too much information relevant to the text but fails to refine the word thus causing student anxiety and confusion. The course instructor may also ignore the importance of student comprehension thereby leading to the inability to control the multimedia rhythm and making it hard for the learners to process the information (Uribe et al., 2003). The result is students’ inability to translate such large amounts of information and knowledge.

2.2.3 Input and Output Imbalance

This imbalance results due to instructor’s weak teaching concept leading to inadequate openness and interactive activities. Multimedia may make the instructor the master of the process while the students become the passive recipients of the external stimulation. Further, the students may be forced to memorize the material without having to understand the content (Baldry & Thibault, 2006).

2.2.4 Limitation to Student Thinking

In most teaching experiences, the teachers are unable to make extensions of the original course framework thus making it hard for learners to come up with their own ideas. The teachers, due to overreliance on multimedia, do not discuss and communicate problems or students’ ideas which leads to weakened student initiative (Mayer & Moreno, 2003). Students will tend to believe what they are shown and as a result develop scientific understanding from the observations. Problems arise if the phenomena under investigation are unobservable in the classrooms.

2.2 In Business

2.2.1 Message distraction

In business, the message is the medium when selling, but may not be when one is trying to communicate on other topics because the audience may tend to concentrate more on the medium than the message. This leads to losses as a business executive spends valuable time, energy, and money on failed communication (Mayer, 2009). Although multimedia content assists a company’s site with search engines, if some content is not handled correctly can damage the rankings of the sites. If the sites lack automated programs they may be ignored by search thereby mitigating the overall traffic flow of clients to the company business.

2.2.2 Equipment Failure

Since multimedia requires more equipment than traditional mediums to deliver a message, there are chances that the equipment may breakdown thereby failing the whole process. This does not augur well with clients especially when trying to fix presentation equipment or search for a missing multimedia file to present to the client (Roblyer, 2003). The result is a waste of money and time with a risk of the client opting for a competitor’s services and products.

2.2.3 Lost Productivity

New and improved software has made it easier for businesspeople to develop multimedia and incorporate it into message, however, it takes time. Some of the message may take a lot of time to gather and incorporate to create a meaningful business presentation which translates into wasted time, productivity, and money. Productivity is also lost when trying to load multimedia content as opposed to static content. If a company’s site keeps on asking the users and clients to wait while content loads, the company is bound to lose valuable income as the clients will tend to click away to other web pages which may lead them to competitors’ sites.

2.2.4 Multimedia Quality

Another danger inherent in multimedia emanates from its quality, especially if the clips vary in quality. This may send undesirable message to clients since in professional communication, the multimedia quality speaks volumes about the company. Clients are easily annoyed by poorly presented messages which may be unrelated or poor in quality (Steinmetz, 2012). Conversely, it is expensive to purchase and create high-quality multimedia. 


2.2.5 Compatibility

The multimedia elements of different company products may fail to match what the users want, for instance, earlier versions of Apple mobile devices did not feature Flash multimedia thus inconveniencing users who wanted to access sites that depend upon Flash. Further, incompatibility of multimedia message and software may lead to loss of income as clients shift to competition for products that are compatible with their multimedia devices (Mayer & Moreno, 2003).

2.3 In Public Places

Multimedia sharing lacks the capacity for self-regulation thus presenting the dangers of peer pressure and the risk is magnified if the activity involves online use of multimedia. This may lead to sexual harassment, clique-forming, infringement of privacy, internet addiction, and bullying. Harassment and bullying result in depression, severe isolation as well as anxiety.

Multimedia is laden with risks, such as high expense which makes its software and hardware inaccessible to the public. The content portrayed by the multimedia devices may not be suitable for some cultures since most software is designed in America thereby resulting in linguistic and vocabulary barriers. It also becomes challenging for the public when technology advances to render obsolete the software and hardware they are using (Roblyer, 2003). The brevity of shelf-life inconveniences people once they discover that the devices they are using cannot run the latest multimedia releases. This adds to the users’ disorientation since information becomes virtually inaccessible. Poor designs lead to program crashes which is a danger that may affect the use of multimedia. 

3.0 Conclusion

Education instructors, researchers, and business leaders considering using multimedia platforms for decision support needs should first acquaint themselves with the risks such multimedia poses to influence the preferences for their products and decisions. The dangers of multimedia are present in all fields, whether in the public domain, at school, in the workplace, and even at home. These dangers include, expense involved especially when the multimedia platform is rendered obsolete due to changes in technology. It may lead to lost productivity since a failure in the multimedia equipment will ultimately lead to dissonance on the case of the clients.

Practically, multimedia lessons delivered via images and video requires the use of electronic devices, projectors, and computers depending on their subject and the original material created by the presenter. These equipment are quite expensive to purchase, especially if they have to be purchased by every student, which in turn may slow down the pace of content delivery if all the students access the information at the same time. Problems may arise if students try to access the multimedia content at home due to the varying quality of their electronic devices thus leading to presentation and project inequality (Vaughan, 2011).

The teacher’s role tends to shift from instructor to facilitator, whenever the teacher tries to design a multimedia learning experience. It also becomes difficult for students once they have to share computers to view multimedia sources (Uribe et al., 2003). Further, if a student is not proficient with the computer technology, they are forced to spend more time trying to learn the computer skills than learn the content of the presentations.

To prevent the dangers inherent in multimedia, the presentations should be interactive to challenge the viewers to think for themselves. Moreover, multimedia should be used in schools as a creative teaching medium that convinces and enlightens learners to produce life-changing experiences. This would enable learners to conduct reality checks as they advance their studies. Instructors should put into account the dangers of using multimedia to create a harmonious, democratic, and pleasant environment to ensure that learners think and innovate on their own as well as cultivate a team spirit. The teachers should also control the amount of information to foster learners understanding input. This assists in arousal of knowledge and experience in students thereby stimulating learning motivation.

4.0 Recommendations

As instructors use multimedia to present materials to students, they should constantly remember that the goal is to enhance students’ understanding and thus should use elaborate designs. Different colors to display or pointer option are appropriate in addition to a more open approach to teaching whereby questions are incorporated. Different media should be used to present different information with an emphasis on little information on each slide. Further, instructors should embrace new technologies to provide meaningful learning experiences for learners thus creating a relationship between education reform and technology to assist learners develop skills and perform effectively outside the classroom.

The multimedia companies should ensure that the multimedia they incorporate supports the message that they want to pass to the clients rather than being technology savvy. The creators of the multimedia content should keyword-optimize their content to avoid contradiction to the SEO work where there is non-multimedia content on the company site. The companies should

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