Digital communication is now more complex than just good writing or a preparing a brief “explainer” with attractive graphics. The processes of engagement and meaningful comprehension of content also require an understanding of: (1) how, when and why users interact with different technologies, (2) cognitive psychology of learning from different types of media (3) plus more detailed testing of just how much information the user understands. Without that empirical evidence, the determination of what is or is not “good” communication or explanation is based on the judgement of the person observing it. The goals of the research on this site are to: (1) understand user engagement with different technologies, (2) apply and further develop the psychological processes of learning from technology, and (3) accurately measure users’ “situational understanding” of the content (that is, more than what is just recalled from the content).
We consider any message that effectively communicates on several of the digital platforms in the menu above as a transmedia (as opposed to a multimedia) message. Specifically, a message with multimedia might present content with text, audio, graphics, and animation, but that doesn’t mean the same multimedia message is equally effective for those encountering the message on a computer screen, a small iPad and an even smaller mobile phone.
Our research focuses on the cognitive psychology of transmedia messages that communication, inform and educate. Independent of platform, messages that simultaneously address four key concepts of our P-I-C-K model for digital information help to maximize user engagement (“situational interest”) and comprehension (“situational understanding”) of the content.
- Although messages often contain one or more of the four P-I-C-K concepts, research of the model demonstrates the importance of
- Personalized content. What are the best ways to provide it?
- Interactivity with the content. How much and where in the message should it occur?
- Contiguity (coherence) in the multimedia. Combining multiple media to tell ONE story.
- Kick-outs (or distraction). Minimizing kick-outs and maximizing attention.
The following research details the fundamentals of good explanation in both text and multimedia.