IMS 2020-2025 Resources



5 Distinct Media Types

Posted by Ken Zimmerman

Sun, Feb 1, 2015

mediaWhat media helps you learn best in or out of the classroom? In today’s world of teaching and learning, teachers and students have a variety of media to choose from to help maximize student learning. Depending on the media used, some students respond very positively or even negatively based off of their styles of learning. One thing that I have learned in my teaching is that students respond well to being exposed to a variety of media for each instructional learning outcome in the classroom. Because students respond to different media in different ways based off of their unique learning styles, it is important to understand what media is available and how it can be used for the desired learning outcomes.

Let’s take a quick look at five distinct media types according to Patrick Fahy in his 2004 article titled, “Media Characteristics and Online Learning Technology”.

Print and Text
This media by far has been the most popular in education throughout the last century and will continue to thrive, as it is a quick means of distributing informational text to students. Some students like this media for those visual learners who comprehend text complexities very well. Print and text continues to change its form… where most print media was via textbooks and printouts; the Internet has changed the playing field. We have noticed with certain students that they have had some trouble moving from reading printed text to online text because they are so used to scanning information online and not reading for comprehension. Sometimes accommodations and scaffolding needs to help guide students through online text.
- Examples: Textbooks, handouts, magazines, research articles, websites, etc.

Still Graphic and Static Displays
This media especially helps those students who have trouble with reading comprehension. Through displaying information via graphs, it helps students breakdown the information they are reading. In addition, graphics are a way to capture student attention so they do not become lost in all the text on the page. One increasingly popular form of graphics today is infographics. Infographics help capture student attention as well help break down text complexities.
- Examples: Infographics, charts, data charts, Images, comic clip art, etc.

Sound and Music
As a former world languages teacher, I discovered the power of sound and music very early on! Many students respond well to music particularly learning through music. Music gives us the ability to memorize patterns and sequences as well as vocabulary. Associating music with learning helps students make connections that they would not else think of making on their own.
- Examples: MP3 songs, Podcasts, Radio Broadcasts, Instrumental audio clips, sounds effects, etc.

Video and Animation
This media tracks a lot of attention in classrooms today in a variety of forms. Teachers have learned long ago how to capture student attention via video clips to help hone in on a particular learning objective. Increasing popularity has been the use of animation not only watching animated style clips, but actually creating animated clips used to assess their learning.
- Examples: YouTube, EdPuzzle, Discovery Education, GoAnimate, Animoto, etc.

Out of all the media types, I think that this one has the closest connections to 21st century learning. In my view, I consider multimedia to truly be a mash-up or combination of all the media. Students like the idea of having a variety of multi-media to enable learning and assessing. Multimedia helps bring the stage to life helping students make real world connections to the content they are learning. It’s connections to 21st century learning are through having students create and distribute content.
- Examples: Prezi, PPT, Emaze, Google Slides, VoiceThread, etc.

What Media do you use in your classroom and how do you use it to maximize student learning? Please post in the comments section below.
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Topics: Media