From: Najjar, L. J. (1996). Multimedia information and learning. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 5, 129-150. Available: ftp://ftp.cc.gatech.edu/pub/gvu/tr/1995/95-28.pdf
In Multimedia Information and Learning, Najjar cites that the purpose of the paper is to "try to cut through the hype and enthusiasm to determine whether there is empirical support for the assumptions that multimedia information presentation improves learning." Two things come to mind when I read this. Number one, I have a tendency to get "hyped" up about a concept, tool, or idea and can easily jump on the "tech tool" bandwagon, so I read this statement and think to myself. Wow, could it be that multimedia doesn't really positively impact learning? I begin looking forward to hearing the other side as I take it for granted that multimedia improves both instruction and learning! The second thing that comes to mind is that I cannot imagine I can be persuaded to think otherwise, even if research suggests it!
Learning is higher and takes less time. Well, it seems that in the beginning paragraphs, Najjar is telling us that studies do indicate that learning is "higher" and it took less time when comparting Multimedia Instruction to Classroom Lecture. That works for me and supports what I have observed and believe from my experience in the classrooms.
"Computer cased instruction may force the instructional designer to better organize and structure the learning materials as opposed to a traditional classroom lecture..." So what! That's great! That is ok if that is what contributes to making the multimedia more effective in the classroom! Class time is limited and if the material is prepared for a cleaner and more effective delivery than so be it! Najjar also points out that the "interactivity" of the multimedia can be a contribution to the positive impact as well. Again, I say that is ok, as well. He then goes on to point out another "advantage of" the multimedia instruction which is the ability to control the learning pace. I feel with these associations Najjar is not "cutting through the hype" but justifying the use of multimedia in the classroom.
The only area I feel that could discredit some of the "effect" from multimedia is the reference to "novelty." Sure, after a person is exposed to the same thing over and over again they become less stimulated by it. So I could believe the repetitive use of the same type of multimedia could slow the rate and amount of learning that takes place.
All of this aside, I think that we always need to recognize that one tool or methodology will not work all the time for all learners. We need to "mix it up" and use the best tools and aids to deliver the message.