Multimedia instruction - American EducationThe simultaneous use of more than one medium to produce a complete learning unit. There are many approaches to multimedia instruction, the most current being the so-called wired classroom, which permits students, individually or simultaneously, to use their personal computers to access all but limitless textual and audiovisual instructional and reference materials from sites anywhere on Earth. Wired classrooms link student computers by cable or telephone wires to data resources anywhere in the world—live, taped or printed. Live hook-ups permit interactive question-and-answer segments, and, at the touch of a button, teachers can obtain any of a variety of materials specifically designed for the day’s lesson. The first wired classrooms were equipped to receive only taped television newscasts, but, by 2000, most American classrooms were either equipped or in the throes of being equipped with access to the Internet and the World Wide Web.
Prior to the development of the wired classroom, multimedia instruction depended largely on tape recorders, slide and film projectors and classroom displays of graphics, art and other exhibits. Commercially prepared multimedia software kits—usually on CD-ROMs— are available to encourage self-instruction in a variety of fields—basic reading and arithmetic for elementary school children, for example, and foreign languages for secondary school students.
(See also computers; distance learning; Internet; TELELECTURE; VIRTUAL CLASSROOM.)