What is media rich content?

A pretty strong case has been made for the use of visuals as learning and teaching tools, and even more so for the use of media rich content. In this chapter, we will explain to you what media rich content is and how you can use it in creating learning programs.

Lesson goals and objectives

In this lesson you will learn:

  • what media rich content is
  • how the use of media rich content evolved over the years
  • what the SAMR model is about
  • how technological support influences education
  • about the 6 learning phases
  • how media rich content can be used in every learning phase

What is media rich content

In advertising rich media is a digital advertising term for an ad that includes advanced features like video, audio, or other elements that encourage viewers to interact and engage with the content. While text ads sell with words, and display ads sell with pictures, rich media ads offer more ways to involve an audience with an ad. The same principle can be applied to learning materials. Not only learning material that takes place in the classroom within frontal classroom teaching, but (especially) in online teaching situations.

A text in a book consists of words. At most there are footnotes and explanatory text boxes that give extra information, but it remains text. Rich media gives the possibility to convert the text into images. With the help of those images the reader could form a better picture of what was explained in the text. Due to the highly developed technology the possibilities of using rich media are endless. Moving images in the form of video, drawn animations, interactive question and answer options, yes even a pop-up chatbot asking if he can help you. Rich media is thus a wide range of possibilities to better understand, remember and apply what needs to be learned.

Standard creative versus media creative content

We all know the textbook. It is used for centuries in education. In addition to the textbook there always has been the blackboard and wall plates with images. These education tools served for centuries. Unfortunately, they weren’t very flexible. Once you filled the blackboard, you had to erase everything and write again everything in the next class. And then came the internet. And the digital blackboard. And the e-books. Although the first e-books merely were traditional books transformed to pdf’s gradually e-books added functionalities that really brought new possibilities. Media rich content has all the flexibility like the internet. You can enrich text with moving images, videos and read-aloud possibilities. Furthermore it is possible to explain difficult concepts and definitions by hoover texts, videos and even chat functionalities with teachers.

The possibility of interaction is very important because students are used to just in time solutions. So, media rich content combines text, images, audio and video to attract attention and engage the user with an activity.

In the classroom the introduction of the digital blackboard almost seemed unstoppable. The digital blackboard offered the possibility of interactive games meant to activate pre-knowledge or to rehearse knowledge offered in earlier classes. This had a considerable success because all students looking at the blackboard mentally made the exercise the student in front of the class was making. Eventually suppliers of digital blackboards like Smart Technologies offered online interactive exercise for student to make on their own pace and level.

More digital programs to support interactivity in the classroom emerged with the arrival of apps like Mentimeter (digital poll to quickly obtain an opinion from the learning group or an answer to a question intended to test pre knowledge), Kahoot (a test packaged in the form of a quiz), Socrative and Tricider (to organize an structured online discussion). Nowadays there are many more. The next step was apps on mobile phones. Teachers can offer knowledge and learning exercises by way of apps like Kahoot and Drillster and student choose where and when they practice the subject matter. Mobile learning was born.


When developing media rich content, it is good to ask yourself to what extent education changes as a result. Is it merely substitution, for example replacing a book with a PDF (not a good idea) or does it fundamentally change the way in which education is offered and experienced and in which the educational task is redefined? Not every technology in education is equally far-reaching.

The SAMR model provides a good insight into the extent to which technological support is changing education. It is good to realize that this model is not a value judgement in the sense that redefinition is better than substitution. It is more a classification of what the technology affects.

Types of Media rich content

The most well-known possibilities of media rich content are video and podcast. But there are other options, like apps installed on the mobile phone of the student and diagnostic tests and adaptive tests. In the next chapter we offer a long list of possibilities and suggestions for tools.

It is very important to realize in advance what the function of rich media content is in the learning process. In other words, what is the didactic goal you are trying to achieve. We distinguish 6 phases in the learning process:

1. Activating prior knowledgeMind map
Students make a short video about the subject
Word cloud
2. Selecting informationSocial media (e.g. Linkedin, Twitter, Instagram)
Search strategies tailored to the student’s prior knowledge
3. LearningVideo and vlog
Interactive methods
Adaptive tests
Discussion forums
4. PresentingPowerPoint, Prezi
Vlogs and podcast
5. ValidationSocial media with peer review possibilities
Blogs, wikis
6. ReflectionQuestionnaires like offered by Microsoft, Google or Survey Monkey (and many others)

1. Activating prior knowledge
Why activate prior information? Within 30 days, people forget 90% of what they were told in class. And most of it disappears within hours. Repetition makes things better remembered, that same effect has learning at intervals by the way. The new knowledge has to be more or less schematically stored from the short term memory (the working memory) into the long term memory. There, not all facts are stored separately from each other, but in meaningful correlations.

A good lesson or series of lessons is in line with the knowledge already present in the student. Information is stored better and faster in the brain if it is linked to information that is already present. Therefore: for a successful lesson, make an inventory of which prior knowledge is present and activate that prior knowledge! Students who are encouraged to think about what they already know about the subject can better absorb, understand and remember new information. This is how our brains work.

There are several strategies to activate prior knowledge: problem analysis, perspective acquisition, brainstorming and concept mapping. You can activate prior knowledge by means of verbal instructions, pictures or animations. Which form depends on the target group. Research shows that students who already know something about the subject activate their prior knowledge better with static images, while students who don’t know anything are activated better with moving images. Students with prior knowledge are able to activate static images through their prior knowledge. They combine these static images in their brains to make a film.

The essence of activating prior knowledge is that students themselves think about: what do I know about it, what do I think about it, what can I do with it and what don’t I know yet? In this way the student realizes what there is still to learn and learns to make choices based on present knowledge, learning experiences and missing knowledge.

As a teacher you stimulate this investigative attitude by asking a suitable learning question in a challenging assignment. How do you do this? For example, by using a video, a mind map, a word cloud or a quiz.

Rich media to use:
Mind map.
Students make a short video about the subject.
Word cloud.

2. Selecting information
Looking for information on the Internet. It seems so simple: just google. But in order to learn effectively during a learning process it is necessary that the correct information is selected, that information is reliable and thrust worthy.

Is Google the only source of information? And is the information Google provides actually correct?

Gathering new information only makes sense if it is in line with existing information. Compare it to reading a textbook on a subject you don’t know anything about yet. Then you do not take an in-depth dissertation on the subject, but an introductory handbook. This is also true for information selected on the internet. The knowledge the students find must fit within the phase of the learning process where the students are at that particular moment. As an instructor, you must therefore ensure that the search is structured in such a way that it fits the phase in which the student finds himself. For students who are introduced to a subject for the first time, this can mean that the information search is strongly structured, almost in a question-and-answer model. And for students who already know a lot about a subject, it is much more useful to let the gathering of information result in an argument, essay or proposal for a solution to a problem.

There is no doubt that the collection of information on a subject by the student himself is more instructive than the transmission of the same information by an instructor. It is better for the instructor to focus on making connections between the facts and on the application of that information.

Knowledge construction provides more connections in the student’s long-term mind, because more effort simply has to be put into it. The brain is activated and stimulated to make new connections. The clever use of social media can provide students with an incredible amount of information, without having to put a lot of effort into it. By following the right Twitter accounts, the information just comes to you! And a closed Facebook group can be an efficient way for an education team or class to communicate and share information at the same time.

Rich media to use:
Social media (e.g. Linkedin, Twitter, Instagram)
Search strategies tailored to the student’s prior knowledge

3. Learning.
What is learning? Is learning an individual process or do you do it in interaction with others? Opinions about learning vary widely. Historically there has been a development of learning at school through a teacher towards informal learning. You don’t just learn at school, you learn from everyone and everywhere.

The number of studies on the effectiveness of ways of learning (and teaching) is also increasing. If we look at the different didactic models used in learning we can distinguish 3 different basic models:

– Behaviourism
– Cognitivism
– Constructivism

Learning through interaction is given to man by nature, because we are social beings. The old adage: “explain it to someone else and you will understand it even better” is the basis for collaborative learning.

Whatever theory you adhere to as a teacher, it is always good to realise that digital forms of work can support learning to a great extent. It is then only a question of which digital work format best achieves the intended didactic goal. Fortunately, there are an endless number of digital methods and a wide range of choices.

Rich media to use in Learning:
Video and vlog
Interactive methods
Adaptive tests
Discussion forums

4. Presenting
There comes a time when students have to show the results of their learning process to others. Of course to the teacher, but it is also very useful to present it to fellow students.

In the digital world, there are many different forms of presentation. What used to be presented on paper, for example pieces of work, collages, drawings, and models, is now presented digitally. The advantage is that this allows the information to be shared with many more people. Crucial difference with the past is also that many more people can comment online. That is exactly what social media is all about: sharing and exchanging.

What digital forms of presentation are there?
For example, a piece of work can be presented via a blog or a website. Posters can be made online. You can also think of PowerPoint presentations, videos, Prezi’s. There are many possibilities for variation. That variaty is good to keep curiosity sharp and prevent boredom.

An important question is which form of presentation best serves the purpose. This is one of the aspects of Media Wisdom. Another major advantage of digital presentation forms is that (moving) image and sound go hand in hand, giving a learning product more dimensions than was possible in the analogue world. And from research we know that stimulating more senses at the same time improves the learning process.
Stimulate more senses at the same time is a key factor for successful presentations. Sensory processes in the brain tend to work together. Multimedia (multi-sensorial) provision of the learning material increases the chance of memory.

You can use 5 rules:

  1. the learning process goes better through the combination image + text than through text alone
  2. present image and text at the same time, not one after the other
  3. put matching images and words (in a text, book or on a screen) close together, so not far from each other.
  4. show only essential information. An image can also give too much information, so make high demands on your image.
  5. don’t combine three elements, but a maximum of 2. So don’t add music to a film in which texts run through the image.

The combination animation/spoken word works better than the combination animation/text on screen.  Moving image with spoken word works best, i.e.: film.

During a presentation you do not only constantly repeat the content, but you also vary your presentation forms. For example, in the first round you communicate information with spoken text, then repeat this with an image. Or let the students do something (kinetic). We see with our brains. Sight dominates the observations we make. With the latter in mind, endless PowerPoint presentations with rags of text don’t really make much sense.

Rich media to use in presenting:
PowerPoint, Prezi
Vlogs and podcast

5. Validation
Validating means endorsing, approving, legalising, valuing. The essence is that in this phase the value of learning is determined. The student finds out what is already mastered and what still needs to be learned. You could also say: “see where you stand in the development towards the final goal”.

Validation enables an instructor to give feedback on the learning product: how can the learning product be made even better (instead of using a red pen to indicate what is not good). Fellow students can also validate a learning product, the so-called peer review. In this way, students learn to evaluate together and develop their quality awareness. In other words, they can think critically about their own work and that of others.

Online tools to assess/value a learning product are widely available. Think of reactions via social media, online forums or responding to a blog or a wiki. In a digital environment like Google Drive, you can not only criticize or express your appreciation, but you can also write together on the same document in order to create a stronger whole.

Rich media to use in validation:
Social media with peer review possibilities
Blogs, wikis

6. Reflection
Learning without reflection is useless. You learn with a purpose. In secondary vocational education, that goal is: to learn a profession. It is of great importance that a student looks back on both the learning process and the learning objective.

– Has the goal been achieved?
– Have I learned in the most efficient and effective way?
– Why did I learn what I learned, how does it fit into the professional picture?

This is how students find out that for some professions factual knowledge is important to be able to apply in the context of a professional act. And also that possessing that knowledge as such does not automatically mean that you are suitable for that profession.

Reflection therefore leads to a better integration of knowledge, skills and tenacity. In the reflection phase a student gets to know himself a little better. What do I still have to work on? Reflection is therefore both the end point of a learning process and the starting point for a new learning process.

For the teacher, the reflection phase of the student is also important. By questioning the students, for example using an online tool such as a survey in Google Drive, the instructor is given the opportunity to find out what can be improved on the assignments.

Rich media to use in Reflection:
Questionnaires like offered by Microsoft, Google or Survey Monkey (and many others)