Academic journal article International Journal of Instructional Media

Designing the Hypermedia-Based Learning Environment

Academic journal article International Journal of Instructional Media

Designing the Hypermedia-Based Learning Environment

Article excerpt


Computer software design for educational purposes has fundamentally altered education in recent times. Hypermedia is one of the newest tools for education and other related fields. However, understanding the advantages and limitations of hypermedia for educational applications is a crucial event in instructional technology before applying hypermedia to education. The paper will discuss the necessary learning environment for such educational application.

Although it can be described variously, the current popular notion about hypermedia is formed and hybridized by two different fields: multimedia and hypertext (Burton, Moore, & Holmes, 1995). Hypermedia can be defined as a classification of software programs which consist of networks of related text, graphics, audio files, and video clips through users navigated by browser (Gayeski, 1993). Moreover, other researchers note that hypermedia and interactive multimedia are much alike. Schwier and Misanchuk (1993) described interactive multimedia as "an instructional program which includes a variety, of integrated sources in the instruction. The program is intentionally designed in segments, size, content, and shape of the program" (p. 324). These two media all consist of two fundamental concepts: multiple representations of information and interactive between users and the information (Liao, 1998).

Since the Internet and the World Wide Web (WWW or web) are widely popular, the use of hypermedia as a teaching and learning tool that is based on the web system is now rapidly expanding into education. Researchers and educators have already noted the potential of hypermedia in education. Moore (1994) pointed out that the potential advantages of hypermedia include interactive opportunities for the learners, the ability to structure the learner's learning approach, the ability of the system to "remember", the ability to pursue cross-reference, and the increase of the learner's control over the subject matters. In other words, hypermedia is a powerful medium and can re-shape the format of conventional instruction, such as textbooks and lecture.


In the behavioral conception, reinforcing opportunities of an environment serve to strengthen or reduce behaviors. Cooney, Cross, and Trunk (1993) stated "The concept of Computer programmed instruction has continued to be an effective and enjoyable method to motivate and reinforce student for learning" (p. 220). Programmed instruction usually involves breaking content down into many small pieces of information. Skinner noted that programmed instruction was more effective than traditional teaching methods for three reasons: first, immediate knowledge of results; second, individualized learning; and third, expert instruction (Maddux, Johnson, & Willis, 1997, p.75). But typically, behavioral models of computer programmed instruction have several weaknesses: first, isolating factual information; second, learning in isolation; third, a linear structure that can not match some learning activities; and fourth, lack of flexibility and user-friendliness (Maddux et al., 1997, p.76-77).

Bruner pointed out (1996) "A well-programmed computer is especially useful for taking over tasks that, at last, can be unfit for human production" (p. 2). The human mind is unlike some particular computer that needs to be programmed in a particular way in order to operate systematically or efficiently. Information systems can not cover the messy, ambiguous, and context-sensitive processes of meaning making. Therefore, even well programmed instruction can not process human learning appropriately.

Based on human cognition, the innovative educational computer programs, like hypermedia, are developed on constructivist learning theory. Constructivist models of computer programs have emerged from the work of such developmental theorists as Jerome Bruner, Jean Piaget, and Lev Vygotsky. …

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