In the traditional education realm, the role of the teacher is to provide content and information to students. This can be done in the form of many instructional media, such as notes, diagrams, overhead transparencies, models and more. The information or content that is presented is based on the teacher's curriculum and other relevant information for the class. With technology, especially with multimedia authoring technology, the very same content can be converted into the electronic form and presented on the PC. The multimedia technologies used will transform the traditional materials into an interactive multimedia courseware.
With this transformation, multimedia is changing the way we communicate with each other. The way we send and receive messages is more effectively done and better comprehended. The inclusion of media elements reinforces the message and the delivery, which leads to a better learning and teaching environment. The power of multimedia lies in the fact that it is multi-sensory, stimulating the many senses of the audience, which consequently leads to better attention and retention rates. In other words, multimedia provides "an individual or a small group using a computer to interact with information that is represented in several media, by repeatedly selecting what to see and hear next" (Agnew, Kellerman and Meyer, 1996).
As such, many are turning to multimedia as a means to better communicate their message and to foster better feedback on the information exchanged. For many years, multimedia and multimedia developers were housed in selected industries such as advertising, entertainment and edutainment, games and corporate computer-based training (CBT) systems. However, multimedia is now penetrating the education field and changing the way teachers teach and students learn. With the advent of multimedia and technology in the classrooms, teachers can equip themselves with these technological skills and become better communicators of their content materials, and thus enabling the students to learn in a more productive way.
As stated by Lindstrom (1994), "Multimedia provides a means to supplement a presenter's efforts to garner attention, increase retention, improve comprehension, and to bring an audience into agreement." In light of this, educators can thus take advantage of the multi-sensory environment created by the multiple digital media elements to create multimedia education materials that would not only stimulate a variety of senses from the audience, but also elicit high attention and retention rates from them. This is especially feasible with the advent of the Multimedia PC (MPC). The MPC is specifically designed for multimedia creation and development with the inclusion and support of sound cards and digital video capture boards coupled with the increased computer processing power. This alliance of sophisticated computing hardware and software technologies provides educators with a powerful toolset for creating multimedia courseware content.
Tway (1995) posited that "Multimedia offers an excellent alternative to traditional teaching. By allowing the students to explore and learn at different paces, every student has the opportunity to learn at his or her full potential." Thus, with the combination of multimedia technology and educational content materials, the final interactive content can be delivered in various ways and made available for the different teaching and learning modes such as teacher-centric, student-centric and mixed modes (Neo & Neo, 2000).