Interactivity in teaching and learning

The Intergrated Model of Multimedia Interactivity (INTERACT). Source:

The Intergrated Model of Multimedia Interactivity (INTERACT). Source:

I ran into this online course on interactivity while surfing the Net and was pleasantly surprised that parts of it are accessible for visitors. I’m taking the liberty of reprinting here the course’s basic definition of interactivity and interactive multimedia (IMM):

Interactivity (non-computer based): Interaction; reciprocal action; action or influence of persons or things on each other. (Oxford English Dictionary)

Mutual and simultaneous activity on the part of both participants, usually working towards some goal, but not necessarily. (Andy Lippman of the MIT Media Lab, quoted by Stewart Brand in The Media Lab, Viking Penguin, 1987.)

Interactivity in learning is a necessary and fundamental mechanism for knowledge acquisition and the development of both cognitive and physical skills. (Barker P., quoted by Roderick C. Sims in “Engagement, Control and the Learner: A Theoretical Appraisal of Interactivity”,, 1996)

Interactivity implies “doing” as opposed to “being”, action and reaction with another whether it be a computer, a person, or the surrounding environment. In a non-interactive lecture the lecturer will talk and the students will listen. In an interactive lecture the lecturer invites questions and comments from the students and a discussion ensues. In an everyday sense when you drive you are responding interactively with the surrounding environment and traffic. Interaction is an accepted part of our everyday life.

What is IMM?

“The term “interactive multimedia” is a catch-all phrase to describe the new wave of computer software that primarily deals with the provision of information. The “multimedia” component is characterized by the presence of text, pictures, sound, animation and video; some or all of which are organized into some coherent program. The “interactive” component refers to the process of empowering the user to control the environment usually by a computer. IMM is sometimes abbreviated to simply “multimedia”, but this is not strictly accurate – any television advertisement has all of the aspects of multimedia, but does not utilize a computer and is not yet interactive.” (Rod Phillips)

The term “interactive multimedia” covers a lot of territory. “Interactive” means that this new tool offers multiple choices or scenarios, and as the program unfolds, the viewer chooses which sequences or subjects to explore. The presentation “interacts” with the viewer by responding to these choices. “Multimedia” means graphics, music, sound effects, voice, video, and animation, in any combination, in the same program or presentation. These various media are the building blocks of a multimedia product or presentation, but the cornerstone is the student’s ability to interact spontaneously with the information or images by using the computer.


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