Multimedia Enhanced/Hybrid Classrooms

person teaching at a classroom and a person on a computer

  • This instructional approach is similar to both flipped classrooms and Just in Time Teaching (almost a combination of the two).
  • Most students in current science classes are very comfortable using technology and have grown up being surrounded by various devices (they are also sometimes referred to as the millennial generation).
  • Therefore, researchers have investigated how to use multimedia to enhance student learning by developing computer simulations and multimedia learning programs that deliver science content in a manner much more aligned with the typical students’ familiarity with technology (compared to reading the textbook).
  • Studies have found (see references below) that students who use Multimedia Learning Modules outperform students who read the textbook, and, in addition, perceive the course as less difficult by being more prepared to learn material during class.
  • The Multimedia Learning Modules are designed to deliver content and are based on discipline-based education research of common student difficulties and misconceptions.
  • They can be used to enhance the learning done in lecture by being assigned as pre-homework (i.e., before formal presentation of concepts in class) which, similar to Just-in-Time Teaching, can provide information about students prior knowledge and ideas. This information can be integrated into the lecture and used as a starting point to scaffold students’ learning by providing learning opportunities to extend and repair their knowledge.
    • Alternatively, well-designed Multimedia Learning Modules can be used to replace traditional lecturing (similar to the flipped classroom model) and lecture time can be used for various instructional activities, typically performed as group work.
  • In the hybrid model, some of the learning activities typically performed in class (i.e., lecture) are moved online, but lecturing is not completely removed from instruction (like in the flipped classroom model).
    • This is sometimes a good starting point for someone who wishes to try the flipped classroom model, and can start by using Multimedia Learning Modules for certain parts of a course, but not for all.
  • Interactive computer simulations can be used to enhance learning by providing students with opportunities to work with newly learned concepts in multiple representations in a highly visual environment. This can augment their learning by helping them develop productive mental models of the concepts learned.

More information:

  • Blended and online learning guide at Vanderbilt Center for Teaching
  • Blended learning at EDUtopia
  • Richard E. Mayer, Multimedia Learning (2001)
  • Principles of multimedia learning (from Multimedia Learning by Mayer)
  • Powerpoint presentation by Richard E. Mayer (UCSB) on multimedia learning
  • H. Sadaghiani, “Using multimedia learning modules in a hybrid-online course in electricity and magnetism”, Physical Review Letter Special Topics – Physics Education Research 7, 010102 (2012).
  • Z. Chen, T. Stelzer, and G. Gladding, “Using multimedia modules to better prepare students for introductory physics lecture”, Physical Review Letter Special Topics – Physics Education Research 6, 010108 (2010).
  • C. E. Wieman, K. K. Perkins, and W. K. Adams, “Oersted Medal Lecture 2007: Interactive simulations for teaching physics: What works, what doesn’t, and why”, Am. J. Phys. 76, 393-399 (2008).


  • Pitt will be using LabArchives Electronic Notebook (soon). See the University Times article about "Ditching Paper for Digital" and the advantages of Electronic Lab Notebooks for your students.
  • Researchers at University of Colorado Boulder have created a website which contains many interactive simulations of physical phenomena which can be used as great teaching tools in physics, chemistry and sometimes biology classes.
  • NetLogo is a free multi-agent programmable modeling environment which contains a large library of sample models (simulations) from many disciplines, including but not limited to: Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Earth Science, and Computer Science.
  • has many materials developed by teachers for teachers, some of which are multimedia based.
 More information and resources coming soon.