Multimedia: Learner Preferences For Multimedia Learning

This is my latest publication. This was a really interesting study on multimedia and I am doing a follow up. Here is the abstract and link to full article:

ABSTRACT: Today’s learners are using multimedia on a daily basis. From computers to cell phones, it’s very difficult to get through a day without being exposed to multimedia. Prior research from Mayer and colleagues has revealed the multimedia principle, which communicates that two representations that explain for one another are better for learning than just one. While much of this research focused on cognitive load and learning, it did not focus on learner preference. As a result, a survey was presented to learners to discover their preferences for the multimedia, modality, redundancy, and coherence principles in a multimedia environment. Overall, participants agreed that they preferred multiple representations to a single one. However, the most surprising results were found when learners were presented redundant representations and irrelevant details. Learners indicated they preferred redundant text and sound with images to image and text or images and sound and that they preferred highly detailed and colored images to simple images. This indicates that while learners may learn better if we following the multimedia principles, they might decrease learner interest or motivation, which could have an impact on instruction


Pastore, R. (2014). Multimedia: Learner Preferences For Multimedia Learning. Journal of Multimedia Processing and Technologies, 5(4), 134-144.

Harvard and MIT sued over closed captions on videos and podcasts in online courses

This is something every online instructor needs to consider. Why? Because our materials need to be accessible to everyone. Thus we need to conform to standards, such as 508 when developing our materials. Obviously, its nearly impossible to make all videos and podcasts with closed captioning because it would take a significant amount of time and resources making these types of media worthless. One of things we have done at UNCW is to make sure that we provide an optional resource that covers similar material. Thus if my course has a podcast I can either type it up, which would take forever, or I can simply provide a reading that contains similar content. For all of my videos, I put them on youtube. Youtube does CC for all of their videos so all of my video sources are usually taken from there. This saves me time and everyone is happy. The only downfall is that my videos are then available to the public and on googles servers, which could be an issue for some people. There are many issues that this lawsuit will bring about such as…should online materials be accessible for everyone if there is a face to face course option? I say that because online courses are definitely not made for everyone (ie people who are not self motivated). Fortunately for me I am not a judge so I do not have make these decisions. I just try my best to make my materials available to everyone. And if you do have a disability or some other issue preventing you from viewing your instructors materials simply ask them for an alternative – I would hope they work with you on this.

You can check out the article here

The MOOC Hype Fades

I have been seeing this trend over the last two years and I predicted this trend when I first heard about moocs. My reason? I have stated it before but one of the comments from this article sums it up nicely so I will repost it. Here is the comment from the article by user hyptiotes

“Remember too that universities have been around since the middle ages. They are resilient institutions. The demise of universities were also claimed with the invention of books (who needs a teacher now!), invention of public libraries (free books to learn at your own pace!), invention of mail order courses, invention of closed television courses, and now the invention of online courses. You can at least understand why academics aren’t worried about their demise (again). Self-motivated learners obviously benefit from MOOCS, just as they did with the invention of public libraries. What keeps universities in business is essentially human laziness. Without a cattle prod and the pedagogical equivalent of a life coach standing over you and checking your work, most people would never finish a course. This is borne out by the abyssmal completion rates of MOOCS. Unless you can cure procrastination, laziness, and minimize cheats in the system for credentials, there will also be a place for credentialed brick-and-mortar universities…”

Instructional Design Hourly Rates

Many students (and former students) ask what they should be charging clients when they do contract work (and I have to figure this out when I am working on a proposal). Hourly rates in instructional design can vary widely (and they should). Rates should vary by task and client. First lets start with some of the  numbers then lets get into more specific reasons to choose an hourly rate.

First, the average instructional design salary is around $78,000 a year in the US. So if we were to calculate an hourly rate based on that it would be $36 and hour (which is 78k a year) but we would add 30% for benefits and retirement, which means that the average instructional design hourly rate should be around $47 an hour. However, given that contract work is not guaranteed and sometimes part time, this rate should be around $50-$60 an hour.

Now there are some other statistics. reports that instructional designers typically charge anywhere from $20-$90 an hour. And this will vary based on task, quality, and speed. They report that most of the foreign companies charging $20-$30 an hour purposely take longer on tasks and do not provide the quality that someone charging $50 and hour would do. Additionally given the role instructional designers play, outsourcing to a foreign country has not worked well for many that have tried it due to the language and time barriers – its very tough for a subject matter expert at your company to have meetings with someone who has a 12 hr time difference and doesn’t know how to put american culture into the training.

Finally, and most importantly elearn Magazine has created this image which shows some numbers by task. Keep in mind this is from 2007 but it does show how different tasks and clients should demand different rates.

So here is a list I have comprised based on stats and my own experience. These should vary based on the task at hand, the quality expected, experience of the contractor, location, and client:

1. Business strategy, proposals, needs analysis, needs assessment – $100-$250 an hour

2. Simple Design (articulate, captivate, PPT) – $60-$100 an hour

3. Advanced Design (simulations and games) – $75-$150 an hour

4. Development with Articulate, Captivate, or other authoring tools -$35-$70 an hour

5. Development that includes programming, Flash, HTML5 – $60-$125 an hour

6. Implementation – $50 an hour

7. Evaluation – $75-$250 an hour

Master’s of Instructional Technology Faculty Position at UNCW

Assistant Professor – Department of Instructional Technology, Foundations, and Secondary Education

Vacancy # 15F059
Position # 6020

Opportunity to join a 64-member faculty in a growing college of education recognized for quality and leadership at the local, state, regional, and national levels. The Watson College of Education (WCE) ( enjoys strong support from our Chancellor, Provost, Dean, and from our university/school partnership that includes 12 school districts in the region.

The University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) is a dynamic and growing campus of the 16-campus UNC system situated on 640 acres in the historic port of Wilmington, five miles from the Atlantic Ocean (Wrightsville Beach). The University is rated as one of the top six public universities in the south by US News and World Report. Current enrollment is 14,000 undergraduates and graduate students. UNCW and the Watson College value and reward undergraduate and graduate teaching, encourage and support faculty research and sustain a high level of service to public education and the profession. The school is accredited by NCATE and all programs are approved by the state of North Carolina. The WCE is housed in a new state-of-the-art education building. The Instructional Technology program offers a Master of Science degree in Instructional Technology. It also sponsors two certificate programs, one in Online Learning and Teaching and another in Instructional Technology Specialist, as well as the Instructional Technology Endorsement program for P-12 teachers.

The Watson College of Education seeks a Tenure Track Assistant Professor of Instructional Technology to join the Department of Instructional Technology, Foundations, and Secondary Education in Fall 2015 to:

  • Design, Develop and teach web and/or classroom-based courses in the Master of Science in Instructional Technology (MIT) department as well as teach undergraduate face to face and online courses in instructional design and instructional technology. Sample topics of courses could include multimedia design and development, human performance technology, program design and evaluation, interactive learning systems, and mobile/web design and development.
  • Maintain an active research agenda
  • Advise graduate students
  • Assist in ongoing program revision and assessment
  • Provide leadership and service to the department, WCE, UNCW, state and the profession (active participation in regional/state/national/international associations)
  • Provide service to area schools and businesses

Required Qualifications:

  • Doctorate in Instructional Technology or related field
  • Established or emerging research record in instructional technology or related field
  • Demonstrated expertise in areas such as online learning, interactive courseware, and instructional design and development
  • Experience teaching students with a range of occupational backgrounds including education and private business
  • Demonstrated  collaborative working skills and commitment to diversity
  • Experience with multiple authoring software technologies

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Experience in corporate, government, or consulting settings
  • Experience teaching online in both synchronous and asynchronous environments
  • Experience in K-12 settings

Priority consideration will be given to applications received by December 15, 2014 but applications will be accepted until the position is filled.

To apply, please complete the online application process available on the Web at A letter of application, curriculum vitae, and contact information for three professional references should be addressed to the Instructional Technology Search Committee and attached to the online applicationNo applications will be accepted by email, mail or fax. MS Word or Adobe PDF attachments are required. For questions regarding the online application process, contact Linda Register at 910-962-7539. Transcripts are not necessary for initial review; they will be required of candidates invited to participate in phone interviews. Please direct questions about the position to Ray Pastore, Chair, Instructional Technology Search Committee,

UNC Wilmington actively fosters a diverse and inclusive working and learning environment and is an equal-opportunity employer. Qualified men and women from all racial, ethnic or other minority groups are strongly encouraged to apply.

Ready Player One

I recently had the chance to read the book Ready Player One (to see what it is about please read the synopsis below). This is a great book for use in gaming and educational classrooms. I will more than likely be incorporating it into my Gaming and Simulation class. The books does a great job of predicting what our world might look like in years to come. While a fiction book the idea behind VR technology and its role in our lives and internet may not be far off. In fact, as the technology progresses I believe its pretty spot on. So I definitely recommend this text to anyone interested in gaming, instructional technology, or in need a fun book to read. I also love all of the 80s references as I grew up in the 80s and loved reading about games like Joust and Adventure – 2 of my favorites from Atari. You can read more about the book here:

Book synopsis:

It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place. 

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. 

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them.   

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved—that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt—among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life—and love—in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape. 

A world at stake.

A quest for the ultimate prize.

Are you ready?

Should you go to college?

Should you go to college?

This is an interesting question in a time where student debts are becoming outrageous and grads are struggling to find jobs. I am going to explain my thoughts on this question.

First – who shouldn’t go to college?

College is not for everyone. If you have other plans and already know what you want to do (and it doesn’t require a college degree) then maybe you do not need to go. No one forces anyone to go to college. It’s a choice. If that seems like the only choice given to students – blame their mentors, parents, themselves, etc. because it is a choice. Maybe you won’t need that degree to start up a business. However, keep in mind that even Donald Trump sent his kids to college and then on to an MBA before letting them help him run his business empire. Are you going into the military? Well you may not need college right away. Then there are other reasons too: Are you immature? Don’t know what you want to do? Are not motivated? Are better with a trade/skill then books? Then maybe you should reconsider and figure out what you should be doing before going into college – or even consider trade school or community college first. Also, sometimes taking a few years off from school after high school and working or something (such as volunteering) can help you decide if college is right for you and give you time to mature. And these are just some of the reasons students should not go. Please though, do not avoid college because ‘bill gates’ or marc zukerburg’ didn’t go. Remember both of them went to Harvard and then dropped out. They were not normal people. They each got nearly perfect on their SATs, had started companies while in high school, and eventually dropped out of Harvard when they got what they needed at Harvard (and without Harvard neither Microsoft or Facebook might be here today). Bill Gates was so smart he was exempt from Math in high school so he could program computers. So more than likely you should not be using them as examples.

Is college worth it?

The simple answer is Yes. The more complicated answer is that it depends because its no guarantee to success and please note that it never has been that or claimed to be that. The numbers definitely say it is. In fact, any way you look at the numbers it is definitely worth going to college. College is an investment in yourself. Are you worth investing in? That is up to you. I went to college for 12 years and it was definitely worth it. I learned how to think, critique, evaluate, problem solve, and how to work. I feel that I mostly made good decisions with my courses, schools, and majors. If you pick a major that you are not interested in and then do not use the degree then maybe it would not be worth it. I often hear people say there are worthless majors in college but I usually can disagree with their points because most majors are there because some job demanded them. Just because you are not familiar with a subject and the jobs it leads to does not make it wrong. Take art history for example (a major usually brought up in this type of discussion) when you do a simple google search you find that these majors are highly desired in museums, auctions, and so on – thus its actually a very needed and valuable major. Its when someone goes into art history and then decides that they want to do something else that the major could be seen as ‘not valuable’ to that person while in fact the degree is very highly valuable when used. Now for some numbers – a report just released by the Labor Department statistics by the Economic Policy Institute in Washington said that college graduates make on average – 98% more per hour than those without degrees. 98%! In fact, any way you look at the numbers college grads are significantly better off. Unemployment of college grads is less than half that of the overall population. The lifetime salaries are also significantly higher and that gap keeps growing. That doesn’t mean that someone without college will not make a lot of money, it just means on average, people do not.

Some numbers:

How much someone earns over their lifetime:

Median annual earnings of full-time year-round wage and salary workers ages 25–34, by educational attainment: 1995–2012 from

earning by age:

Is college too expensive?

Yes and no. Most students leave college owing about 25k, which in my opinion is not bad considering that is how much an average car costs (something most people pay off in 5 years). In fact you can check out the average student debt here:

You can get a very good college education for 25-50k at a community or public university. “According to the College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2013–2014 school year was $30,094 at private colleges, $8,893 for state residents at public colleges, and $22,203 for out-of-state residents attending public universities.” ( Thus 8-9k per year for a public university = 32k total. If you were to work and go to one of these schools you would probably graduate with zero debt – I did and I went to college for 12 years. In fact, I had a savings. Now of course if you go to a college that costs 250k for a bachelors degree and go into a profession that makes 50k a year you are going to have trouble paying that off. This is no different than buying a house or car you cannot afford. If you cannot afford it, don’t do it. So do not blame the college for costing so much, blame the student for choosing a college they could not afford. Just remember, college prices are similar to car prices – there are cars that cost 10k-20k new and cars that are 250k new. You cant say cars are expensive and only be referring to that 250k car while ignoring all of the 10k ones. Additionally, while there may be a quality difference in cars there is much less of a quality difference in colleges. In fact, many colleges have very similar quality (to an extent) – whether public, private, or ivy league. What differs? Well the connections you make while attending but overall education will not be too much different (it will be different I just want to stress its not as significant as the car example I used). Its really about what you put into it. Professors are guides, guiding students. They cannot force you to do well or be successful. One last thing to point out here – if you are concerned that public universities are increasing their tuition too much each year, please look at how much funding is being cut from them by the state before jumping to other conclusions (although keep in mind other factors are always at play but the biggest cause for an increase right now is state funding being cut). Remember that while in state students might only pay 5k a semester to go to school, the state is paying the rest of their tuition – it actually costs about the same as a private school when its all said and done (because you pay tuition and the state pays the rest of your tuition). So when the state cuts funding by 10%, there might need to be a 10% increase in tuition to make up for that the money the state was paying for your tuition. While those numbers I just presented are not exact by any means, it is how it works. So take that into consideration when you wonder why tuition is going up. See here for more information on that.

When should you consider college?

1. When you want to learn. College is great for this. Its not the only way but if you are interested in engineering, its very difficult to learn it on your own for a million different reasons (motivation being the biggest). If people could learn everything on their own there would be no such thing as classes – people would just go to the library or internet and figure it out. This does not work though – people are not motivated to do that and cannot know if they have or have not fulfilled competencies that someone in the field they are studying should know.

2. You want to enter a career that requires a college education. So you want to be a doctor, lawyer, teacher, architect, museum curator, etc – well they all require degrees.

Lastly I will leave you with this: My kids will be going to college. Most of my colleagues kids will be going to college. Most doctors, lawyers, politicians, etc. kids will be going to college. There is a reason: Education is valuable and it can really pay off.

College Tuition

Complaining that college tuition is too high and going to a school that is 60k a year is like owning a ferrari and complaining that cars cost too much. Just as there are new cars for under 10k, there are colleges that cost around 40-50k for the entire 4 year degree.