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Why use multimedia?

A multimedia product is a combination of different components that gives the user a multi-sensory experience.Websites and computer games are just two examples. They make use of video, audio, images and animation as well as text. If you intend to use only text in a product, you should think about writing a book or a report instead!

Multimedia can allow you to reach a bigger audience and to engage with people in a different way from books or newspapers.

It can be entertaining and exciting. Compare a traditional board game with its computer version. Movies and animations add excitement to learning. Imagine this book without its on-screen activities. Simulations can develop high-level skills such as flying an aircraft. Multimedia provides accessibility for people with disabilities by providing information in a number of formats. Multimedia can allow communication with a wider audience even if they speak a different language.

An example of a board game that can be played online


How many examples of multimedia products can you think of? What is the purpose of each one? Is the multimedia necessary or would the product be just as good without it?

Multimedia products are used widely in:


education virtual reality entertainment and leisure.

Businesses and commercial organisations also use multimedia to promote their products and services.

Example of a company multimedia website


Banks, large stores, entertainment venues and airports are all good places to see multimedia in action. Discuss the different ways in which multimedia is used in each of these locations.

Figure 1.4

Investigating multimedia products

The multimedia experience

Multimedia in education

One of the editors of this book can remember using a slate and chalk at school! The authors only had pen and paper, but you have so much more. Multimedia makes learning easier and more fun, through interactive materials, digital narratives or stories, and movies.

This ActiveBook is an example of an e-learning product that makes full use of different types of multimedia.


List the different ways in which multimedia is changing the way people learn. For example, how do young children benefit from interactive stories and talking books?

Multimedia can be used to teach science online

  • Activity 1.1

An interactive storybook for young children

Look at some of the stories in the digital story section on the BBC website. Some are educational, whilst others are for leisure.

How effective are these stories in conveying a message? How do the storytellers use still images to get a message across even when it includes action?


Online encyclopaedias have many advantages compared with paper-based versions (or even CDs).Wikipedia is a good example. It has easy-to-follow hyperlinks that let you find out what you want to know and more besides. The pages are easy to read with lots of links and pictures. It can be updated on a daily basis to take account of things that are happening right now.

  • Activity 1.2 Visit Wikipedia or another online encyclopaedia and research a topic you are interested in. Keep notes about the way in which multimedia enhances your experience. Share your findings with the rest of your group.



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