Examining a Flow-Usage Model to Understand Multimedia-Based Learning

Article excerpt

Introduction

In essence, multimedia is the use of a number of different content formats to convey information. Text, animation, video, audio, and graphics are examples of common types of content format used (Hwang & Yi, 2003; Lin, 2004; Saade & Galloway, 2005). A multimedia learning information system would use two or more content formats in a cohesive way, such that it would relate a message from the sender to the receiver (that is from the teacher to the student). The combination of content types creates the learning effect with a medium that is able to yield specific beneficial learning results (Mayer & Moreno, 2002).

Web-technologies over the last five years have made the use of web-based multimedia systems easier to build, integrate, and deliver. There are three technological factors that have eased the adoption of multimedia use:

1. The increase in demand for e-learning,

2. The shared open knowledge initiatives at the academic levels and,

3. The open source and standards for e-learning systems.

Recent work has attempted to draw a line between research and practice. The question on whether multimedia has positive effects on learning and in what instances does multimedia affects learning (Graff, 2003) has not been clearly answered yet. Other research has also questioned the interface design as it would influence user's feeling of boredom (Lindh & Soames, 2004; Tait, 1998), and. although it has not considered the interactivity between the multimedia tool for learning and the student, this still remains unanswered.

From a beliefs perspective, the intention to use an information system has been researched extensively (Saade, Nebebe, & Mak, 2011). Many different cognitive models of learning have been suggested, studied, and reengineered to yield the greatest explanation. Often these models have been based on social psychology or sociology and then formatted specifically for information system study use (Saade, 2010; Venkatesh, Morris, Davis, & Davis, 2003). This assimilates the benefits of the years of study performed by social scientists to information science study. However, usage in this group of research is scarce.

In the past 20 years, there has been a multitude of studies that were based on the assumption that exposure to the content of a subject is sufficient to induce learning (Gupta, Quaddus, & Wachter, 2000; Saade & Huang, 2008). As a result to this assumption, research has considered a measurement of 'intention to use' as a valid justification for the use of multimedia (or any online type of content for that matter) in the e-learning phenomenon. This assumption is flawed in so many ways due to the complex psychological state of intentions leading to action (actual usage in the present context). Nevertheless, there were some (all be it, few) studies on usage, and although these studies have analyzed usage of information systems, none to our knowledge have applied it in the e-learning multi-media context and have decomposed usage into three dimensions: time spent using the system (TS), frequency of use (FREQ), and interruptions while using the system (INT).

This is the purpose of our paper: to explore learner's usage of a multimedia system through the lens of a flow-usability-belief paradigm. This study was performed by proposing a motivational model integrated with cognitive absorption and usage dimensions.

Research Model

When the subject matter involves technology and behavior, the technology acceptance model (TAM) comes first to mind. The TAM is a well-developed and well-documented model for testing the determinants of users' intention to use a specific technology. Davis, the creator of the TAM, posited that Perceived Ease of Use (PEU) and Perceived Usefulness (PU) are antecedents of a users' intention to use (Davis 1989). The TAM is based partially of the Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA) (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975). …