Chapter 6 examines the theory of Applying the Modality Principle which can be defined as the use of narrative words in short and concise audio form, rather than being portrayed on screen as text (Clark and Mayer, 2016, p. 114) thus resulting in positive learning (Clark and Mayer, 2016, p. 113). This serves as the primary purpose for this theory.
First, the Modality Principle, which Clark and Mayer begin in their outline, rationalizes how learners may experience an overload of visual graphics especially when written words run concurrently with the images. In developing a distance learning program, there is suggestion to minimize overstimulation of visual learning, but rather enhance auditory learning. Second, the limitations of the modality principle sometimes present technical demands (such as speakers, Wi-Fi, etc.) which can increase costs and intensify sounds not conducive to the learning environment; also, words may need to be used with the visual but used at the discretion of the instructor emphasizing certain elements in the learning process. Third, the psychological reasons suggest that the advantage of using narration is to transmit and process information between the auditory (hearing the words) and visual (seeing the pictures). Yet if both are used simultaneously, the visual channel will suppress the auditory channel. Thus, leading to cognitive conflicts for the learner. This has led to Clark and Mayer’s cognitive theory of multimedia learning wherein verbal material can be analyzed through the auditory channel, while visual material is dissected through visual channels, using both at the same time and strengthening these two senses.
Fourth, the evidence for using spoken rather than printed text states that students who viewed animation along with narration were able to produce twice as many solutions to a problem, compared to students who viewed the same imagery but with written text as on-screen captions (Clark and Mayer, 2016, p. 122). Also, studies revealed students with varying styles of learning retained the concurrent narrations with imagery (Clark and Mayer, 2016, p. 124). Fifth, the application of the modality principle is not warranted in all learning. It is another learning strategy to put forth as part of the educational process within the varying learning environments of both the traditional and virtual classrooms. Finally, there is still much to learn about the modality principle, but it is a bridge to lessen the overstimulation of the visual and enhance the learning process with the use of another dominant sensor, the auditory channel.
The importance of this point is a reminder on how present-day students have had greater access to a vast amount of visual imagery. The speed of information is in a state of constant motion and stimulating. This chapter provided insights on my teaching methods. For example, I would want to teach my students how to use both senses, separate of each other as well as together. One way would be to speak instruction by using few words as possible and build simple, cohesive sentences. As I finish speaking, I would again speak the instructions and have students repeat the direction. Finally, speak the instruction, have students repeat the direction, and reveal each image of what is to be accomplished.
Regarding the use of educational technology within distance learning or instructional design, I still would base my lessons on appeasing the learning differences of students. There are varying levels as to how a student will learn certain concepts (Clark and Mayer, 2016, p. 119). For example, I am a kinesthetic type of learner. I may hear the initial introduction of a concept, but when the visual is portrayed, then I begin the learning process. If instructions are placed on a visual, I often will not read the text, instead I begin to interpret the information based on the image, then go back to the text for any questions or suggestions. Unless I see how something is being done, I will often tune out the words and focus on something other than what is being spoken at the time. It is not until I am able to focus on a visual and work on it directly, then my learning takes place. This is not to say that I need all my learning done with visuals. If there is some form of illustration within a teaching, then I can comprehend what is being taught, much like listening to a sermon. If the message only focuses on the technical components, I will not acquire much in the way of knowledge. I use many illustrations when I teach my students or fellow co-workers. In distance learning, the same would apply—instruction, demonstration, application, and repeat until the concept has been learned. Christ used this technique much in the same when he was the teaching the disciples—the use of parables.
The ISD project has been unique to me. I have admitted to my peers that it has been difficult to merely read what to do rather than see how it is done. The great part about this is that my peers have unique qualities and strengths that enable me to understand and I hope I have done the same for them. I feel a bit more empowered trying to accomplish this project from basically knowing absolutely nothing. If I had seen varying examples, maybe I would have done something similar, maybe better, or maybe not. This project has been one to build my listening skills apart from my visual.
After graduation, I believe I would teach and build a distance program very much in the same manner that I have described above—read out the short instructions, have students read along again (ask questions), then demonstrate techniques. There is a stigma in thinking that all things should be created in similar fashion. Maybe it is a part of societal roles and their expectations for what should be done or not. But the great thing is that God created us all differently and his design for each of us is unique.
Clark, R.C., & Mayer, R. E. (2016). Applying the Modality Principle. In E-learning and the science of instruction: Proven guidelines for consumers and designers of multimedia learning [4th ed.] (pp. 113-129). Wiley & Sons. San Francisco, CA.