12. Image Principle

The Image Principle says that people do not necessarily learn better from a multimedia lesson when the speaker’s image is added to the screen.

This is definitely an area that needs more research.   So what are the pros and cons of adding the speaker’s image?

On one hand, we know how important teacher presence is.  Students need teacher presence to help develop the social partnership that enhances deep learning. Mel Aclaro, in the video below, makes a pretty compelling argument.

Screencasting Q&A – Why use “picture-in-picture”? (3:53)

On the other hand, adding the instructors face in the presentation, as a picture-in-picture image, could create a split attention issue, where the learner is actually trying to watch the presentation and the teacher at the same time.  In addition, having the instructor’s image, which does not contain any pedagogically relevant information, is extraneous to the presentation.  This means that working memory is taxed and deep learning might not occur.

In a series of studies the image principle was tested, not just with a picture of the person giving a presentation, but also with animated narrators.  The findings were inconclusive.

Instances where an image seems to promote learning would be when it is used to actually point to a relative portion of the graphic (signaling principle) while on the screen.  This reduces cognitive load by showing the learner where to look on the screen.

To finish up, when it comes to on-line agents, you may wonder (If you remember Microsoft Office 97), “What ever happened to Clippy?”  Here is a fun video showing the history of one of the most famous on-line agents.

Whatever Happened to Clippy?  (10:57)

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series of posts on Multimedia Principles.  Have a great weekend and I’ll see you next week!!

Aclaro, M. (2013, July 21). Screencasting Q&A – Why use “picture-in-picture”? Retrieved November 19, 2019, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmpQeBe7xJQ.

Mayer, R. (2014). The Cambridge Handbook of Multimedia Learning, Second Edition. New York City: Cambridge University Press.

Whatever Happened to Clippy? (2018, August 11). Retrieved November 19, 2019, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZnZ7AFiebys.