As digital communication continues to increase in complexity, the way in which text is combined with multiple media – especially on mobile screens – is increasingly important. Research of the processes of user engagement and understanding of content includes: (1) How, when and why users interact with different technologies, (2) The cognitive psychology of learning from different types of media, plus (3) Precise and generalizable testing of just how much information the user understands. Without that evidence, the determination of what is or is not effective communication would be based on only the preferences of the producer. Therefore, the goals of this lab’s research are to: (1) Measure user engagement with different technologies, and (2) Understand the psychological processes of how people learn from different content on different technologies.
We consider any message that effectively communicates information on several digital platforms as a transmedia message instead of a multimedia message. A multimedia message can present text with audio, graphics, and animation, but that combination doesn’t guarantee that the same multimedia message is equally effective on a computer screen, a tablet and an even smaller phone.
Our research focuses on the cognitive psychology of transmedia messages that communicate, 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.
The P-I-C-K structure represents:
- Personalized content and the best ways to provide it
- Interactivity including how much and where it is best in a message
- Contiguity (or coherence) of ALL media to tell ONE story.
- Kick-outs (or distractions) that are minimized so attention is maximized
This previous research details the fundamentals of good explanations of complexity in text and multimedia to maximize the P-I-C-K concepts.