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​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Whether you realize it or not, multimedia is a pervasive element of our learning environments. Narrated PowerPoint presentations, YouTube, and various other combinations of images, text, and audio all illustrate the ubiquity of multimedia in contemporary learning and teaching. While multimedia can promote student engagement, support diverse ways of learning, and help students develop relevant contemporary communication skills, it can also contribute to cognitive overload and hinder learning. To leverage the benefits of multimedia while mitigating these potential drawbacks, it's important to consider both:

  • the design of the multimedia itself, and 

  • how the multimedia fits into your larger course design

This page offers practical resources to help you create multimedia instructional materials effectively through a design perspective.​

​​Key Design Pri​​nciples​

Graphics + Text + Narratio​n = Cognitive Overload.

Ways to avoid cognitiv​e overload in slide presentations, videos, documents, and other multimedia:sparkly purple toy horse on a yellow background

  • Omit extraneous material (such as images that are merely decorative and do not convey or reinforce core concepts). For example, the horse is a major distraction (unless I have explained how the horse itself relates to co​​gnitive overload).

  • ​Combine a well-chosen graphic with a compelling oral narrative, but omit text. Consider a story-telling approach in which you convey a concept through a memorable, specific example, rather than elaborating abstract definitions.

  • Combine a well-chosen g​​raphic plus clear and concise text, but omit narration. For example, a graphic can effectively convey a process or model. SmartArt in Office is often a quick way to create such graphics.

  • ​​Consider ​that your own image doesn't necessarily help someone learn the content. Instead of using your webcam continuously in the bottom corner of the screen, try using your image full-size as you narrate a welcoming intro and supportive conclusion. But omit your image from the middle of the recording.

​​Print this conc​ise version of Mayer's 12 Principles of Multimedia Learning​​ as a guide when designing, creating, and curating multimedia instructional materials. Contact CAFÉ​ for more information about the research basis and effective use of these multimedia principles. ​

Design Materials to Be Accessible for All Learners 

Know th​at some learners may have hearing, visual, or other issues. You want them to be able to access the same information in a timely manner. To do this, use the following guide to learn more about how to make information in images, narration, tables, and videos accessible to all learners:

Mobile Friendly and Concise Designs

Consider how you can provide materials that can be used on a variety of mobile devices. Chunk material into short segments focused on discrete topics. This is consistent with Mayer's research-based principles of multimedia learning and supports diverse learners, including working students, caregivers, and other busy learners. 

Te​chnology an​d Tutorials to Get Started​

Commonly Used Apps​​


You may have over​​​looked robust tools available ​within PowerPoint itself for ​​recording instructional materials. Webcam recordin​​g can be incl​uded, as well as screen recordings, and it is easy ​to redo your narration or ​independently update the content of individual slides.​ Additionally, information you place in the notes field can be shown as you record and can foster accessibility when you share the .pptx file with others. 

​Sharing Your File--Including OneDrive or Stream

You can share your recorded presentation as a .pptx file, or export it as a video file

Flipgrid Shorts

Flipgrid is best known as a mobile-friendly, asynchronous video discussion platform. However, Flipgrid Shorts let you create standalone videos up to 10 minutes in length, edit the content, and autogenerate captions. This means you can go to one platform for both standalone content and discussion. Videos can be shared in the LMS by URL or embed code. A Short can include webcam recording, screen-recording (in some browsers), narrating an image, and/or adding text to a white or blackboard. When recording, click Pause to move, remove, or add items, then resume. Edit by selecting the portion you want to keep. Then "Add more" to your recording. If needed, reorder segments before finalizing. Learn more at:

​RingCentral Meetings

You can record videoconference sessions, your screen, and/or webcam. You can even share your screen in a meeting room by yourself and record it. Upload your video to Stream to autogenerate captions and an interactive transcript​, and insert interactive knowledge checks.


Available in both free and low-cost subscription versions​. Recording is available in t​he free version. Editing is available through the low-cost subscription version. 

Videos can be shared by URL or embed code.​


Available to faculty through the Digital Studio or a perpetual license can be purchased​. Offers advanced editing, multilayered audio and video tracks, and interactive quizzes. 

​Recording Devices

R​​ecording devices for unique situations are also available for faculty to check out from CAFÉ​ or use in the Digital Studio. These include a lightboard, Swivl, and 360 degree immersive camera​. More complex authoring software, Articulate Storyline, is also available. Contact CAFÉ​ for more information​

Templates for Designin​g Multimedia Instructional Materials 

The more complex your content is, the more important it is to plan it out first. Commonly used templates include:


Laura Lohman

Laura Lohman, PhD, SHRM-SCP, PMP

Director, Center for the Advancement of Faculty Excellence

Professor of Music

(704) 337-2547