September 20, 2005
Hypermedia Position Paper
What is hypermedia?
Hypermedia systems are an increasingly popular format for conveying
information. These hypermedia systems contain rich information that is highly connected
(Chen, 2002, p.450). Another characteristic that identifies hypermedia is that it includes
links to the World Wide Web which allow users access to millions of pages of
information (Wang and Yang, 2002). Often hypermedia is associated with distance
education and may include the use of interactive video. Computer networks allow both
asynchronous and synchronous communication. This communication may be learner-to-
content, learner-to-learner, or learner-to-facilitator (Grabinger and Dunlap, 2002).
Hypermedia is often confused with multimedia. While hypermedia has
multimedia features (including digital videos, sounds, graphics and other text
enhancements) embedded in it, there are major differences. Multimedia is basically
linear; whereas hypermedia is non-linear. When using hypermedia technology, one may
“branch out” easily to access other computer-based resources to enhance or supplement
learning. (Maccin, Calvin and Hughes, 2002, p. 251). Chen (2002) refers to this non-
linear feature as “freedom of navigation” and describes users as making their own way
through a self-directed resource (p. 449). This non-linear feature seems to be the defining
characteristic of hypermedia.
A final distinguishing mark of hypermedia environments is that they are open-
ended allowing more control to shift to the user. They provide user-directed, interactive
learning. The learner becomes responsible for accessing, selecting, organizing and
analyzing information according to his or her unique needs (Iiyoshi and Hannafin, 2002).
How Can Hypermedia Be Used in a Learning Environment?
I see hypermedia as a tool to provide exposure to content, but more importantly to
under gird the cognitive process. Grabinger and Dunlop (2002) talk about hypermedia
having the benefit of teaching synthesis, thinking skills, and problem solving skills (p. 2).
Azevedo and Cromley (2003) noted that undergraduate students using hypermedia had to
plan time and decide where to invest effort (p.2). Ability to reflect and make decisions is
imperative to success in a hypermedia environment. Students must make metacognitive
judgments continually as they are navigating, evaluating, making associations with
personal experiences and connecting to other content resources available (Iiyoshi and
Hannafin, 2002, p.2).
Another reason to include hypermedia in a learning environment is the increased
motivation it provides. Since consumers clamor for more flexibility of time and space,
hypermedia may motivate adults to be life-long learners. Students of all ages are
motivated by being able to set their own goals, reflect and ask questions so easily
(Grabinger and Dunlap, 2002, p.2). Specifically, in a high school science classroom,
hypermedia was shown to sustain motivation as determined through interviews and
observations of student behavior. Interviewed participants stated that several factors led
to this increase in motivation including the element of curiosity, control and the “fantasy”
environment (Wang and Yang, 2002, p. 3).
Examples of the use of hypermedia in the classroom open up a broad range of
opportunities. Iiyoshi and Hannafin (2002) describe an anatomy course based on the TV
series The Universe Within: Human Body. They explain that this hypermedia
environment “contains approximately 1,000 individual multi-media enhanced screens”
that can be bookmarked for reference by the students (p. 4). Another study describes
high school social students with disabilities. They noted that retention increased for those
teens using hypermedia (Maccin, Calvin and Hughes, 2002, p. 254). Researchers have
documented the use of “adaptive hypermedia” in which XML technologies alter the
content presentation based on a “dynamic understanding of individual users” (Baek,
Wang and Lee, 2002, p. 2). The possibilities and benefits of using hypermedia in
education seem endless!
What are some Critical Issues to Consider when Using Hypermedia?
For hypermedia to be successfully used, educators must be especially sensitive to
the learning styles and personalities of their students. Since hypermedia is a complex,
non-linear environment, some students have difficulty. Increased flexibility may cause
some students to be disoriented and actually may disrupt the learning. Though many
thrive when allowed the control of setting personal goals, some may need external cues
and prompting. Without this guidance, they may waste time and feel confused (Chen,
2002, p. 449-457). Some users’ “cognitive resources may be overtaxed.” They may
experience distraction due to sensory overload (Wang and Yang, 2002, p. 3).
Hypermedia may increase rather than diminish the demands on some learners.
A trend I noticed in the research I did was stated clearly by Grabinger and Dunlap
(2002) who feel that the use of technology does not diminish the importance of good
pedagogy (p. 5). Some best practice tips for implementing hypermedia are as follows:
Firstly, substantial consideration should be given to goals, outcomes, and pedagogical
soundness. The skills of learner and the level of difficulty of the activity must match
(Wang and Yang, 2002). Next, facilitators should include a collaborative element to the
hypermedia instruction. Students benefit from the establishment of interdependence and
communication in any virtual learning community (Grabinger and Dunlap, 2002).
Finally, instructors must be conscious of how time-consuming an activity may be and
attempt to predict the level of frustration that may be present with each task (de Boer and
Fisser, 2002). None of these critical issues seem insurmountable and should certainly not
discourage would-be users from delving into the world of hypermedia.
Azevedo, Roger; Cromley, Jennifer G. (2003). The Role of Self Regulated Learning in
Fostering Students’ Understanding of Complex Systems with Hypermedia. Paper
presented at Annual meeting of American Educational Research Association.
Retrieved September 13, 2005, from ERIC database.
Baek, Yeongtae; Wang, Changjong; Lee, Sehoon (2002). Adaptive Hypermedia
Educational System Based on XML Technologies. Available from Association
for the Advancement of Computing in Education. Retrieved September 13, 2005,
from ERIC database.
Chen, Sherry. (2002). A Cognitive Model for Non-linear Learning in Hypermedia
Programs. British Journal of Educational Technology, 33, 449-460. Retrieved
September 13, 2005, from ERIC database.
De Boer, W.F.; Fisser, P.H.G. (2002). Best Practices Experiences: Successful Use of
Electronic Learning Environments. Available from Association for the
Advancement of Computing in Education. Retrieved September 13, 2004, from
Grabinger, Scott; Dunlap, Joanna. (2002). Applying the REAL Model to Web-based
Instruction: An overview. Available from Association for the advancement of
computing in Education. Retrieved from ERIC database.
Iiyoshi, Toru; Hannafin, Michael J. (2002). Cognitive Tools and User Centered Learning
Environments: Rethinking Tools Functions and Applications. Available from
Association for the advancement of computing in Education.
Retrieved from ERIC database.
Maccini, Paula; Gagnon, Joseph Calvin; Hughes, Charles A. (2002). Technology-based
Practices for Secondary Students with Learning Disabilities. Learning Disability
Quarterly, 25, 247-261. Retrieved September 13, 2005, from ERIC database.
Wang, Shiang-Kwei; Yang, Chia-chi. (2002). An Investigation of a Web-Based Learning
Environment Designed to Enhance the Motivation and Achievement of Students
in High School Science. Available from Association for the advancement of
computing in Education. Retrieved from ERIC database.