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Practice, practice, practice

Because the limited capacity of working memory is rapidly overwhelmed when lots of new information is presented, it's crucial to provide frequent opportunities to use or practice the information in working memory. That's no less important in multimedia than in any other kind of instructional medium, and it's the focus of the sixth method to keep in mind when teaching or training with multimedia:

Clear working memory by encouraging frequent rehearsal, which moves information into long-term memory.

It's important not only that learners have a lot of practice, but that the practice be provided frequently. A research study compared the effects of the same amount of practice on two groups. One group did all their practice in a single session; the other group practiced in several shorter sessions, spread out over time. The second group showed much better long-term retention of the information they had learned.

As a rule of thumb, it's important to provide practice opportunities after the presentation of each new idea or chunk of information. Because any given idea or chunk of information may require one screen or several screens to present, it wouldn't make sense to say that you should provide a question after "x" number of screens. Instead, consider the size of each new idea or chunk of information being presented. And take your audience into account. Like the chess masters in Herbert Simon's experiment, more experienced learners can handle more information between practice sessions because they can store larger chunks of information in working memory.

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