Interactive Multimedia and Psychology

by Nancy Picard, M.S.


This column focuses on interactive multimedia and its applications to virtual psychology. Interactive multimedia incorporates sound, graphics and text in way to allow the user more control over the retrieval and use of information. When designing interactive multimedia software, developers keep in mind pedagogical, psychological, and technological issues rooted in basic principles about learning.

Researchers are currently studying the applications of this technology in the psychology field. From the stores of a huge, midwestern university's library, I've discovered the following tidbits that stimulate your thinking about how psychology and computers might interact in a virtual learning environment. Next time we will look at the actual programs and resources involved in creating such programs. The journal information is located after the snippet. Enjoy!

Children's Emotional & Behavior Disorders

Using authentic case studies developed in an interactive, multimedia environment, teachers have treated children with emotional and behavior disorders. Education and Treatment of Children, Vol. 18, Issue 3, 1995.

Children's Reading & Communication

A microcomputer program was employed to increase reading and communication skills in children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, Vol. 25, Issue 5, 1995.

Learning Methods Improved

Cognitive apprenticeship is a term used to describe the development of cognitive and meta-cognitive processes in learning. A multimedia program was written to teach six such cognitive methods: modeling, coaching, scaffolding, articulation, reflection and exploration. Instructional Science, Vo. 23, Issue 1-3, 1995.


The public learned about mental and addictive disorders using an interactive multimedia program focused on the biological basis of depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse at the St. Louis Science Center, St. Louis, MS. Behavior Research Methods, Vol. 27, Issue 2, 1995.


Interested in the neurophysiological considerations of multimedia? Researchers are investigating the effects of multimedia learning on long-term and short-term memory that may lead to recommendations for more multimedia teaching material development. Educational Technology Research and Development, Vol. 42, Issue 1, 1994.

Professional Development

Child welfare-workers in Manhattan used interactive multimedia materials to enhance and to specify their training needs regarding their own professional development. Child Welfare, Vol. 72, Issue 6, 1993.

Prenatal Education

Low-income women received prenatal education using interactive multimedia. Patient Education and Counseling, Vol. 21, Issue 1-2, 1993.

Self-paced Visual & Auditory Learning

Researchers have discovered that interactive multimedia's main educative effect may be felt best by those students who use visual and auditory channels, and who like to be in charge of the pace of their own learning. Educational Technology Research and Development, Vol. 39, Issue 3, 1991.



Nancy M. Picard, M.S. has background in journalism and communications, as well as cross cultural consulting for the US Peace Corps. She will complete her MS in Spring 1996, and begin doctoral studies in the summer. Her recent work has been in multimedia design and production toward developing interactive media for self-help purposes, as well as the design of instructional materials for the University of Wisconsin's Schools of Education and Nursing.

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