Hypermedia in Curriculum and Instruction

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    Anna Alvarez

    The current widespread educational uses of multimedia and hypermedia systems promises an
    even heavier reliance on these products in curriculum and instruction. Educators recognize and use these systems when they see the powerful capabilities they offer to enhance classroom learning:

    Motivation. Hypermedia programs offer such varied options that most people seem to enjoy using them. Students who usually struggle to complete a project or term paper often will tackle a hypermedia project enthusiastically. McCarthy (1989) is among those who believe the most important characteristic of hypermedia is its ability to encourage students to be proactive learners.

    Flexibility. Hypermedia programs can draw on such diverse tools that they truly offer
    something for students who excel in any of what Gardner calls “intelligences” (see Chapter 3). For example, a student who may not be good at written expression but has visual aptitude can document learning with sound or pictures.

    Development of creative and critical thinking skills. The tremendous access to hypertext and hypermedia tools opens up a multitude of creative avenues for both students and teachers. Marchionini (1988) refers to hypermedia as a fluid environment that constantly requires the learner to make decisions and evaluate progress. He asserts that this process forces students to apply higher order thinking skills. Turner and Dipinto (1992) report that the hypermedia environment encourages students to think in terms of metaphors, to be introspective, and to give free rein to their imaginations.

    Improved writing and process skills. Turner and Dipinto (1992) also find that exposure to hypermedia authoring tools helps students by giving them a new and different perspective on how to organize and present information and a new insight into writing. Instead of viewing their writing as one long stream of text, students now see it as chunks of information to be linked. Our society’s heavy reliance on hypertext/hypermedia to communicate information seems likely to expand in the future. The accelerating number of World Wide Web pages on the Internet is evidence that linking data with hypertext and hypermedia is an effective way to present and add value to large bodies of information.

    Millions of people have published hypermedia documents on the Information Superhighway in the hope of attracting viewers, readers, and listeners.

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