A Multimedia-Rich Platform to Enhance Student Engagement and Learning in an Online Environment

Award Winner: 
2013 Sloan-C Effective Practice Award
Author Information
T. Scott Bledsoe
Bruce D. Simmerok
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
Azusa Pacific University
Effective Practice Abstract/Summary
Abstract/Summary of Effective Practice: 

The current practice focuses on a multimedia-rich environment that approximates reality and stimulates student learning. Designed for an online Graduate Psychology Research Methodology course, a simulated counseling center setting was created in which actual room photos were used and linked in order to give students a “hands on” feel for learning. The initial “trial run” of the course took place in the Spring of 2013 and in course evaluations, students provided overwhelmingly positive feedback about their levels of engagement and satisfaction with the course.

Description of the Effective Practice
Description of the Effective Practice: 

The simulated counseling center contains virtual rooms filled with web-based links for student interaction with course material. The media-rich environment also promotes student learning by providing multiple rooms containing video and audio clips and helpful tips about research practices from former students of the course. Using the Sakai online platform, students utilize multimedia settings while simultaneously completing content-based tools inherent to the Sakai program. Tutorials are also provided to familiarize students with various aspects of the counseling center setting.

Supporting Information for this Effective Practice
Evidence of Effectiveness: 

In evaluations of the Spring, 2013 course, students provided qualitative feedback about their experience with the online simulated counseling center environment, including the following comments: “Compared to other online courses, I am surprised at how much I like the interactive setup of this course,” “There are lots of resources at my fingertips,” “All the information and assignments that I have navigated through was well thought out and developed,” “The ‘mock clinic’ has been a great visual for me as I navigate Sakai,” “It almost feels like an in-person class in some ways!” and “I love the office and the amount of effort that [the instructor] has put into this online course to make it a good experience.” Additionally, quantitative data from the online class was compared over a four year period as taught by the same instructor who utilized a similar format of course delivery. Noteworthy findings included a significant increase in student endorsement of their enjoyment of the course (79% as opposed to 65% the previous year) and reduced difficulty in understanding the online format of the course (12% vs. 42% the previous year).

How does this practice relate to pillars?: 

The current practice is most closely tied to both “Student Satisfaction” and “Learning Effectiveness.” The multimedia platform provides strong visual cues to supplement text-based learning of course content. Note also the student comments from the previous section ("Evidence of Effectiveness") about potential for learning and increased student satisfaction with the course.

Equipment necessary to implement Effective Practice: 

Aside from knowledge of the web-based online program used (in this case, Sakai), a web-design program such as Dreamweaver is needed to create meaningful links between photos and other multimedia-based content. Because high resolution photographs enhance the visual dynamics of the setting, a suitable camera is also needed.

Estimate the probable costs associated with this practice: 

Between $400 and $800 would be needed to purchase the Dreamweaver software program and a high-resolution camera.

References, supporting documents: 

The attached manuscript titled, A Multimedia-Rich Platform to Enhance Student Engagement and Learning in an Online Environment,” provides a thorough description of the multimedia practice, photographs from the project, and a dedicated Reference list.

Other Comments: 

Thank you for your consideration.

Contact(s) for this Effective Practice
Effective Practice Contact: 
Ted Scott Bledsoe
Email this contact: 
Effective Practice Contact 2: 
Bruce Simmerok
Email contact 2: 


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Joseph Burgo blogs for "Psychology Today" and is a regular contributor to "The Atlantic." He has practiced psychotherapy for more than 30 years, holding licenses as a marriage and family therapist and clinical psychologist. He earned his undergraduate degree at UCLA and his masters and doctorate at California Graduate Institute in Los Angeles. He is also a graduate psychoanalyst and has served as a board member, officer and instructor at a component society of the International Psychoanalytic Association. He currently writes the popular blog "After Psychotherapy - online therapy" where he discusses personal growth issues from a psychodynamic perspective.

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