Review of Relevant
L I T E R A T U R E
- 1. Match current curricular emphases.
2. Match current teaching practice.
3. Match current instructional time restraints.
7. Design the product so that it helps learners develop their inquiry skills.
9. Design a “user-friendly” learning environment
14. Emphasize content, not just isolated facts. (Cates, 1992, p.6).
- 1. Creating a “feel” of the student being the center of knowledge generation and interactive participation with the history of the Holocaust, which will motivate the learner to explore issues relating to the Holocaust.
2. Deliver a concise history that invites the user to listen to the surviving voices of history and relate their experiences to the present.
3. Produce an interactive product based on stories that the user can move through freely, while at all times being able to access other stories and textual information.
4. Motivate the student to change the title of the CD-ROM by gathering clues hidden in 20 stories and lighting the final candle of the Menorah metaphor, Never Again. By creating an environment based on listening rather than movement, the affective domain focused on the need to communicate and explore the true stories of the survivors.
The following review of relevant literature examines the relationship between the medium of interactive multimedia, CD-ROMs, and the audience who uses them. Combining instructional design with the view of multimedia as another communication context to be explored, this project created a CD-ROM and researched the means to evaluate the social context of multimedia. By using the theatrical context as part of the development process, the project focused on dramatic theory and tradition as a guide and influence of the CD-ROM design.Before exploring multimedia, a brief review of factors concerning the Holocaust and learning was included. An entire thesis should be devoted to this subject alone, but given the limits of the project there were only a few important sources cited. The most important learning tools for the CD-ROM were the survivors’ stories and interviews with historians, but there are a number of books which could not be included here.
Examining the social context of multimedia required an exploration from theory to practical application. This review of literature first defines a theoretical base for studying the social context of interactive multimedia. From theory, the literature review then surveyed relevant examples of interactive multimedia in the classroom. Finally, research into students’ and teachers’ perspectives of multimedia were explored. The review concludes with an overview of interactive theater efforts and their possible value to the educational process. By starting with the theoretical base designed from the social perspective, a link between the technology and the students’ perception of the technology was forged through attention to the specific type of knowledge each offers.
The Holocaust and Learning
Learning about the Holocaust provides a variety of perspectives. Thousands of books have been written on the subject, from academic studies to survivors’ stories to historical judgments. What emerges is the difficulty of words to describe the events, yet words (and some artifacts and pictures) are all that is left.
Raul Hilberg’s Perpetrators Victims Bystanders is an important starting point for learning about the Holocaust. Hilberg took a unique perspective by sharing stories and categories, separated into three clearly defined sections. These roles were not as clearly defined during the Holocaust, but Hilberg works on this in the book. Within each category are a collection of stories; the reader can jump back and forth throughout the book to create her/his own perspective. As Hilberg relates about the Holocaust:
It was also an event that was experienced by a variety of perpetrators, a multitude of victims, and a host of bystanders. These three groups were distinct from one another and they did not dissolve in their lifetime. Each saw what had happened from its own, special perspective, and each harbored a separate set of attitudes and reactions. (Hilberg, 1992, p. ix)
His unique understanding of multiple perspectives is the basis of multimedia, of being able to look at an event through different eyes. Hilberg also created an interactive book, in that by jumping from story to story one could achieve the intended effect just as well as reading it straight through. The separations of Victim, Perpetrator, and Bystander work as boundaries to guide the reader through a complex subject broken down to three categories, three perspectives.
Hannah Arendt’s perspective in Eichmann in Jerusalem caused quite a controversy when it was released in 1963. Her comments and judgments arising from the trial of Adolf Eichmann, the manager of the Nazi Final Solution, questioned the role of the victims as well as attempting to report what happened at Eichmann’s trial. Yet she could not simply “report” her findings, as no one can avoid the emotional content underlying the attempted genocide of an entire race. The wounds were still present as the storm of controversy enveloped her writing. Arendt comments in her Postscript to the book, “Moreover-and this was perhaps even less expected-general moral questions, with all their intricacies and modern complexities, which I would never have suspected would haunt men’s minds today and weight heavily on their hearts, stood suddenly in the foreground of public concern.” (Arendt, 1977, p. 283 ) Her work stirred up what was already inside of the general public, a wound that cannot heal as long as the memory remains. And it must remain.
The importance of memory to the Holocaust is emphasized in the stories of the survivors. Tadeusz Borowski’s This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentleman is an example of a story so powerful, so surreal, that reading it is difficult. Those who survived can never recreate the events for others, but the simple sharing of stories is one of the most important learning resources. Borowski’s reports of Auschwitz involve human beings, but the stories read like an animal slaughterhouse. The inability of the reader to understand what it was like is echoed by Borowski’s own inability to shake off the shadows of the Holocaust in a chapter entitled “The World of Stone”:
At this point I must confess that, although since the end of the war I very rarely force myself to polish my shoes and almost never shake the mud off my trouser turn-ups, that although it is a great effort for me to shave my face, chin and neck twice weekly, and although I bite off my fingernails in order to save time, and never, never hunt after rare books or mistresses, thus relating the deliberate senselessness of my own fate to that of the Universe, I have recently begun to leave my house on hot summer afternoons to go for long, lonely strolls through the poorest districts of my city. (Borowski, 1959, pp. 177-78)
Borowski’s story ends with his suicide in the early 1950s. While those who never lived through the Holocaust cannot recreate the past, the need to remember and never let these events happen again rings through all of Holocaust literature.
Theory and the Social Context
Direct Engagement: Experience the Information
When considering multimedia design, the technology and means to deliver information is a primary consideration. Yet computers are limited to what they are told to do. Imagination and interest on the part of the audience should be a primary focus. May (1975), a psychologist, considered the social context as a set of limitations needed for creative activities:
Imagination is casting off mooring ropes, taking one’s chances that there will be new mooring posts in the vastness ahead…How far can we let our imagination loose?…Will we lose the boundaries that enable us to orient ourselves to what we call reality? This again is the problem of form, or stated differently, the awareness of limits. (May, 1975, p. 150)
Being aware of limits does not undermine the process; multimedia is a series of limitation challenges. Technology is not advanced enough to allow full interaction by voice or gesture; a mouse and/or keyboard are the means of communication. Many people are not familiar with computers and multimedia. They are beginning to learn the behaviors that go along with the medium. Brenda Laurel was one of the original pioneers at Apple to tackle this problem of interface, by understanding and enabling the audience to control the dialogue with a computer through the design of the trademark Apple intuitive interface.Laurel’s approach to multimedia is based on a background in theatre and philosophy. Her Masters in Theatre brought a viewpoint which related dramatic theory and practice to interactive media. In her book Computers as Theatre, she relates multimedia production to the Poetics of Aristotle. She lists the six qualitative elements of structure in drama and human-computer activity as: Action, Character, Thought, Language, Melody (Pattern), and Spectacle (Enactment) (Laurel, 1993, p. 50).
By involving real world representations to the burgeoning field of multimedia, she integrates her experience with theatre and live audiences to human-computer interaction. The premise of her argument is a theatrical one; actions create excitement, involvement, and emotion. Words only explain and define. Just as an actor must have intentions of each action clearly thought out before enacting a line, the developer should heed the theatrical tradition to begin with action and end with enactment. The discovery process is not based on limitations, but in engaging the audience with the computer experience.
Laurel’s approach puts the value on engaging the social context of learning, through designing computer interaction that promotes enactment of actions. The audience looks at the screen, understands the thoughts and language, chooses a path (or melody), and makes a choice. The enactment is what puts multimedia into a social context, where the audience is participating with the computer. Yet it is not so simple as arranging buttons and glorified indexes on the screen; choice and movement are not inherently interactivity.The error in multimedia design often comes in forgetting the audience who will be using the product. The primary asset of multimedia is the information; if the audience can’t get to it, they will grow tired of the retrieval problem. Jim Dowe of Excalibur Technologies is an example of one who designs multimedia databases around the simplification of the search process. He finds the problem with many multimedia projects is the endless indexing, which undermines free-form searching. An indexer designs the categories of information, defines them, and redefines them. Unless the audience participates in the design of the index, their retrieval challenge will not be to find information, but to figure out the retrieval system.
Dowe approached this problem by mixing object oriented programming with simple pattern recognition. The patterns he programmed to be recognized where those of the user. Called an “adaptive pattern-recognition” process, his approach begins not with an index but with software in a “learn” mode: “a population of digital organisms examine all the bits in a data file, mutating, reproducing and dying until they evolve a pattern recognition scheme optimized for that particular data set” (Rothschild, 1994, p. 102). The software recognizes the patterns generated by the audience and creates objects which develop with each new choice. While the It Can Happen Again… project attempted to use objects to develop a similar orientation, the complexity of coding such behavior will not apply to the CD-ROM. But the lessons of using objects wisely as an orientation for action and enactment were a primary influence.
Finally, the social context of knowledge exhibits is best summed up by Alan Kay, who pioneered the use of icons instead of text to represent information at Xerox and then Apple in the early 1980s. Kay finds the future of interaction moving towards agents, ones that remember the actions taken by the audience. As he relates, “What a strange and interesting frontier to investigate. As always, the strongest weapon we have to explore this new world is the one between our ears-providing it’s loaded!” (Kay 1990, p. 207).
Ontogenic versus Exogenic Knowledge
Chen (1992) describes the differences between knowledge measured within the individual and that gathered and measured in society as a whole. His analysis of the interactions between knowledge, education, and technology focus on a move from the cognitive paradigm “based on an extended unit of analysis consisting of the social context pertinent to knowledge” (p. 163). Chen defines two separate constructs that represent the cognitive and social context paradigms. The cognitive paradigm represents Ontogenic knowledge, including both innate knowledge from biological growth and development as well as knowledge acquired by learning through the environment. Ontogenic knowledge is the sum of these two, with the unit of analysis being the individual (p. 164).
Exogenic knowledge is defined as public knowledge, external to the body. Chen includes all public knowledge accumulated since the beginning of civilization by social processes; “social institutions and information technologies are the major carriers of this knowledge” (p. 164). The unit of analysis here is the global social system and public knowledge. The separation between Exogenic and Ontogenic is the division this study takes; most studies focus on the cognitive aspects of multimedia, the inner processes or Ontogenic knowledge of the individual. This study will explore the external influence of information technologies in delivering this information in a social context. Chen’s outline of Exogenic and Ontogenic knowledge provided the basis for this study, drawing from an evolution of information exchange developed over time. Three historical events are involved in this evolution. Chen’s definition begins with writing systems, the first preservation and representations of knowledge; the second event was the 15th century invention of print technology, allowing replication and distribution; the third is represented by new electronic information technology. “Thus, it is very clear that the primary role of information technology was to provide Exogenous knowledge with an infrastructure analogous only to that provided by the body to Ontogenic knowledge” (Chen, 1992, p. 166). Interactive multimedia is part of the Exogenic infrastructure, an environment of accumulated knowledge that the learner must access. While Chen provides a framework for where multimedia begins, the relationship with the student must be considered as well.
By defining interactive multimedia as part of the development of information exchange in society, the nature of the technology and its relationship with the student comes into question. Barrett (1992) defines this nature with the term “sociomedia”, suggesting that computers exist for “social” purposes, “as a means to objectify, exchange and collaborate, invoke, comment upon, modify, and remember thoughts and ideas” (p.1). His idea of the computer as a social construct that interacts with the students does not rely on attributes of the machine or functions of a database.
Barrett finds the social context of knowledge as the starting point for interactive multimedia and most information technologies. “In essence, then, “sociomedia” signifies that when we design computer media we are hardwiring a mechanism for the social construction of knowledge” (p. 1). Clearly, interactive multimedia is a social construct indicated by the term “sociomedia”, not only in this study but in research by other scholars (Winograd and Flores, 1986). The mixture of technology and social interaction is a relatively new viewpoint in theory, drawing on the interaction between the human mind and the machine’s ability to process knowledge outside the human brain. The interaction between the two is the social context to be explored in this study.
Diane Gayeski’s (1992) review of multimedia efforts and rules reinforces the nature of interactive multimedia as a social construct. She finds that educational institutions are directing their efforts towards developing students’ thinking skills and value development rather than memorization of facts and figures. Interactive multimedia would seem to be a natural evolution in instruction following this model.
Gayeski warns against assuming that multimedia will solve all of the problems that existed before. In fact, she points out where many of the solutions are driven not by problems, but by theorizing of how to better communicate information without specifically pinpointing a problem. Gayeski finds such solution offering without definition of a problem one of the primary barriers to successful multimedia development.. “However, careful examination of the diffusion of innovation research points out that people do not resist change; rather they resist the social and political consequences of change” (Gayeski, 1992, p. 13). The separation of Exogenic and Ontogenic knowledge, combined with the concept of interactive multimedia as a social construct, provide a social consequence of change that Gayeski urges educators to be aware of.
Multimedia Design Theory
Understanding CD-ROMs and theatre as social constructs requires more than producing a commodity and evaluating whether or not students enjoy it. The challenge is to recognize that what they do with that commodity, the interaction and the self-directed learning, are not goals that can be planned. Fiske’s definition of popular culture (1989) outlines the boundaries for this project:
Popular culture is made by the people, not produced by the culture industry. All the culture industries can do is produce a repertoire of texts or cultural resources for the various formations of the people to use or reject in the ongoing process of producing their popular culture. (Fiske, 1989, p. 24)
Fiske argues that the ways people use and apply meanings to the products of a culture determine their value, not the actual physical construction of the products themselves. Interactive multimedia is created along the same lines, aimed to be adapted and designed by the person who uses them. In order to accomplish this, the instructional design must address the needs of the user, not the attempts to define every interaction possible. The balance between needs and the constraints of a sole designer creating an instructional product will be a primary consideration.
Everett Rogers (1986) argues that the problem is in the designer’s approach, stuck in basic epistemological assumptions about the nature of information. He writes, “The assumptions that information is only a physical substance and that individual minds are contextless, led to biases in past communication theory and research” (p. 98). He urges that the “field of communication must change from its overwhelming focus on the study of communication effects with linear models of communication, to defining communication as convergence” (p. 214). In his view, communication is the process of creating and sharing information; convergence is the tendency of two or more individuals to unite in a common interest or focus. The goal of this project was not just to promote self-directed, individualized learning, but to promote ways for this learning to promote social interactions, i.e. communication, about the Holocaust.
Frischer’s (1988) article on multimedia design touches on this issue by exploring whether or not users should be able to move freely, making whatever connections and links they want, or if they should be led along a predetermined path. His answer is both, based on the concept of “individualization” and how the instructional designer can best address the pros and cons of giving people free reign in CAI (Computer Assisted Instruction):
Assuming that a choice must be made between self-directed and structured learning on the computer, then good instructional design ought to begin with a profiling of the student to see which approach is appropriate for that student at that time for that subject. The absence of such profiling is a major factor, I think, contributing to the otherwise puzzling failure of most CAI to show statistically significant results. By imposing “one right way” on all students, most CAI measures up as a wash because it turns students on or off in about the same percentage of cases. (Frischer, 1988, p. 301)
The lack of basic instructional design, beginning with a needs assessment of the projected users of learning materials, is a fundamental weakness in the interactive multimedia design process. Cates (1992) outlined fifteen principles for designing more effective multimedia products. The article outlined a variety of media to be used, but the approach centered on the integration of technology with the needs of instruction. Cates listed the 15 principles of development, including the following:
By focusing on content, creating a CD-ROM, and using interactive theater as a learning environment that can be used both alone and within the curriculums of prospective classrooms, this project was based on evaluation-driven design, a systematic approach that was taken by the researcher using a model (Dick & Carey, 1990) of system design that first examines what the learner is to know or perform after the instruction is over. Having the end in mind, the means to achieve that end are compared to the present state of knowledge or skill. The result is a defined need, which this project will aim to fill. The evaluation of this research will assist in both definition of need and evaluation-driven design of interactive multimedia learning materials.
Interactive Multimedia in the Classroom
The Nature of the Interaction
Interactive multimedia in the classroom has been implemented under headings such as CAI (Computer Assisted Instruction), or CBT (Computer Based Training). Whatever it is called, the means of delivery has been the computer; detailed studies do not exist of specifically using interactive multimedia CD-ROMs. Yet research into the nature of the interaction and students’ response to the new media opportunities provide valuable guidance for the instructional design of this project. Many of the relevant classroom examples have to do with reading and writing.
The connection between reading and writing skills, and multimedia, provides a metaphor for instructional design aimed at a learner interacting by writing, not passively watching the pictures on the computer. Gilder (1993, October 25, p.139) argues, “The ultimate reason that the newspapers will prevail in the Information Age is that they are better than anyone else at collecting, editing, filtering and presenting real information, and they are allying with the computer juggernaut to do it.” Gilder argues that the print metaphor has more to do with successful multimedia than television; he points out that magazines are far more interactive than linear based film and television, yet many developers are drawn to the glamour and quality of these visual mediums. Reading and writing are not replaced by interactive multimedia in this project, but are enhanced by the access to a variety of learning materials.
Using Vygotsky (1978) as a model, Salomon, Globerson and Guterman (1989) developed a learning system around a computerized Reading Partner, with four reading principles and metacognitive questions during the reading. Vygotsky’s theory that social interaction gradually came to serve a cognitive function for self-regulation and mental representation of information became their basis for exploring current students’ interactions with the computer. Calling it “the zone of proximal development” (Vygotsky, 1978), Vygotsky determined that the difference between what a learner can do alone and with the appropriate guidance is this zone.
Some researchers have shown that guided social interaction, in the form of reciprocal teaching among students within the zone, resulted in improvements in skills that far exceeded improvements from instruction or modeling (Brown, Campione, Reeves, and Ferrara, 1989). Salomon, et al. (1989) took the Vygotsky proximal zone of development one step further by insisting that growth of competencies is divided into two elements; the progress of an individual while being given guidance, and progress that came as a result of the guidance.
Technology and access alone are not the primary motivating factors for using interactive multimedia in the classroom. Vygotsky’s (1978) sociodevelopmental theory addressed student’s reading-related metacognitions before computers were used. Computers have been used to assist as cognitive tools in the learning process (Pea, 1987), but metacognitions are viewed as “the monitoring and redirection of one’s activities during the course of reading to reach the desired goals” (Cross and Paris, 1988). Self-motivation is the primary element of the Cross and Paris (1988) study, as well as the study by Salomon, Globerson and Guterman (1989) where computers are set up as tools to serve the learner’s zone of proximal development.
By combining the social interaction with CD-ROMs, using multimedia as a motivating element, the researcher in this study emulated Salomon, et al.’s (1989) approach, using formative evaluation to measure the progress. Reciprocal teaching was situated between the learner and the CD-ROM, as well as between the audience and the interactive theater presentation, with evaluation of whether the supplied guidance was sufficient and if the student enjoys interacted with the multimedia lessons. The results of the Salomon, et al. (1989) study showed that an intensive reading program with computers improved the competency of the readers. A need to properly evaluate competence about the Holocaust would be essential to a useful measurement for this project. However, given the scope of this project, the measurable effects were limited to the immediate response of the student to the medium. The technology factor limited accurate measures of competence at this time.
Fitting Multimedia with the Needs of the Classroom
Multimedia as a motivational component should not be confused with the fitting of the new media into current classrooms. Some teachers have attempted to employ strategies which circumvent the current strategy by replacing it with computers. Using technology to fill a perceived learning deficiency has been a lazy method applied throughout the history of public education in the United States, from Edison’s phonograph to the present-day demand for audio tape and instructional television (Callister & Dunne, 1992). The theme has been that technology highlights a deficiency and replaces it, a medium-centered approach to education that disregards the needs expressed by the students.
Callister and Dunne found that such attitudes were merely validations for bad teaching (p. 326). Interactive multimedia cannot be used to compensate for a deficiency in presenting lessons; it must be adapted to fit the needs of the students along with the efforts of the teacher. By creating viable uses for technology, teachers do not depend on it to compensate for their own lack of interest or involvement. Such an approach would be doomed to failure because the faulty premise of technology as the answer to all problems is unfounded. When the technology is tailored to the needs of the student, the value can be found in the scores and the motivation of both students and teachers.
The promise of technology is in understanding and addressing individual differences. Ginsburg and Zelman (1988) identified three individual differences that are central to understanding computer learning: computer activities, students, and teachers. Computer activities are a difference in learning materials, with a variety of uses that may be employed through the technology. Physical and mental barriers may be overcome by adjustment in the educational delivery system.
The second difference cited is the student working with the computer; some students may benefit from graphic-oriented computer learning, while others may thrive better under the old system of lectures. The goal will be to discover the best delivery system through the observable reactions of the students as well as the computer-monitored data. Finally, the teacher is involved in the social environment of teaching in which computer activities take place. By adapting the social construct, interactive multimedia, to the needs of the classroom, the goal of this project will be to fit the learning situation by defining needs first (Ginsburg & Zelman, 1988).
Perspectives on Multimedia: Teachers and Students
Research into interactive multimedia began just 15 years ago. With such a new field, much of the research is descriptive, attempting to link the means of delivering information with proof that interactive multimedia is an effective medium. “Many new applications go hand in hand with constructivist learning theory, which holds that in today’s fast-changing world the ability to analyze and solve a variety of problems quickly is more important than applying memorized information” (Stansberry, 1993, p.30).
Some teachers remain skeptical about multimedia, such as David Hammond, lead consultant for California’s Science Education Unit: “We ask a lot of technology, but the truth is not all kids like computers. Some of them really take to it, but a lot more just walk away” (Stansberry, 1993, p. 30). Technology in the classroom will not be automatically accepted; for this project, the motivational components were essential in discovering whether multimedia was useful or just a misguided attempt in assisting education. For multimedia to be an asset, its value as a significant social context of knowledge can only be determined by the students’ desire to use it.
Experiences with CAI in the classroom have yielded positive results, however. Project CHILD (Computers Helping Instruction and Learning Development) is another example of integrating technology into the classroom. The goal of Project CHILD was to accommodate and embrace technology by merging the strengths of the teachers with the delivery medium (Butzin, 1992). Teachers in this project have been trained to use the technology and hands-on techniques of CAI.
Project CHILD transformed classrooms into learning resource rooms, where for three hours a day the students used CAI to learn math and other skills. Twenty-five schools from Grades K-5 participated in the study using a constructivist approach, where students construct their own meaning and demonstrated knowledge through portfolios and projects. Traditional teaching approaches were also used, a combination found to be effective (Butzin, 1992).The lessons of Project CHILD can be found in the role of the teacher, the role of the student, and the role of technology. The efforts outlined were not out of the ordinary, but simply maximized the available resources to progress. The design was a synthesis of the educational roles in the classroom, where the teacher was freed to teach by experimenting with learning styles. One student may have performed better under CAI, while another favored the traditional methods. The logic behind this was to use the adaptability of the system to fit the needs of the student. By transforming the visionary aspects of CAI into a working model adapting to performance, the program was a first step in integrating CAI into the curriculum (Butzin, 1992).
Diane Gayeski and David Williams (1985) wrote a book, Interactive Media, which found the key to the evolution of learner-directed education was the human interface. The authors describe a meeting with a hypothetical interactive media computer. The computer meets the user by addressing s/he by name; the programming of the computer provides access for the human interfacing with the technology. The answers of the human being have as much power to determine the direction as the computer, since the questions have been programmed with the human audience in mind (Gayeski and Williams, 1985, p. 121).
A second level is included in this program, a pause to allow students to pursue other forms of media or to ponder the direction the lesson addresses. Gayeski and Williams see the value in the branches of knowledge offered; instead of limiting the audience to a yes or no response, the computer has levels of knowledge that must be pursued actively (Gayeski and Williams, 1985, p. 120). As educators, the authors find that the active component of multimedia must invite students to leave a passive approach in favor of interacting. To do this, they must be able to communicate as human beings, with as little computer-based direction as possible. This hypothetical model was useful when designing the CD-ROM, for the less the student notices the computer, the more s/he can address the learning instead of the technology.
Goal of the Project
The goal of this project was to create a learning experience within this new medium and examine the learners’ reactions to the CD-ROM. While the results might only describe individual experiences, the question of whether students were motivated to learn about the survivors’ stories and the Holocaust through CD-ROM could be explored. This preliminary investigation may lead to later studies where such learning materials are made part of the teaching program, but for this study the primary goal was to observe the reactions of students using CD-ROM based learning materials and gain feedback on such efforts.
Given a selection of survivors’ stories and educational experiences to choose from on a CD-ROM, the student will be motivated to explore the cultural, historical, and conceptual elements of the Holocaust, resulting in the final creation of a unique historical view of the Holocaust based on listening and imagination. The final goal is for a student to listen to 20 stories and light the Never Again candle, signifying a change in perspective that completes the lighting of the Menorah and changes the title of the CD-ROM to Never Again/Stories of Children, Survival, and the Holocaust. This project is intended as an augmentation of current teaching of the Holocaust, strictly directed to motivating students to explore survivors’ stories using CD-ROM.
The promise of interactive multimedia is the connection between people and information. CD-ROMs are a stepping stone towards the eventual information superhighway that is predicted for the 21st century. Being an interim medium, CD-ROMs may suffer from the slowness and inadequacy of addressing the human-computer interface. Many writers use the analogy of film in the 1920s to describe interactive multimedia; the technology is not only new to the public, it is new to those designing it. However, films did not require a change in audience behavior; like a play, people sat down and watched the pretty pictures. Multimedia requires design considerations and the teaching of new behaviors, of how to operate in a multimedia system. One cannot pick up a how-to book and create an interactive multimedia CD-ROM. The only proof is in the experience and learning from doing, the same kind of education that is the promise of multimedia.
Theatre is an important link between the experience of learning and the creation of educational materials. By mixing presentation with product, the nature of the research will be publicized and offer the audience a chance to participate. Bridging the gaps between the way an individual thinks and the learning situation requires more than an aesthetic, outside looking in viewpoint of multimedia. Interactive learning materials should be defined as a social construct and in doing so, explored from the vantage point of their assistance to education. Measuring change in short term periods benefits researchers who want to prove that their efforts were merited, but the true test lies in longevity and the reactions of students to the learning materials. While such goals are beyond the scope of this project, it is hoped that the challenge to work with the audience to define the message is heeded. To create interactivity, the development must be interactive. The process begins with development, not only in the reaction to the final product.