Digital media is usually considered as a category in contrast to analog media or print media. It refers to electronic media, including audio, video, and other content, that can be stored on a computer. Interactive digital media refers to digital media that invites or accepts feedback from the viewer or listener, such that he or she is not simply a passive audience. Analog media and print media can both be converted to digital media, and either analog or print media can be interactive as well.
Interactive digital media can be delivered in a variety of formats. It can be accessed through web browsers on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter and on sites with user-generated content such as YouTube, Vimeo and Flickr®. It can be accessed on mp3 players through the enormous array of apps available, as well as podcasts.
Interactivity can be built into the larger structure of the website, or into settings such as Adobe® Flash® games, Microsoft® PowerPoint® presentations, and Adobe® Acrobat® pdf files. In each of these products, it is possible to access sound, video, text, and images. In some websites, it is possible to create, or even co-create digital media through the site.
Interactive digital media have an important role in education. They are used in courses for e-learning, as well as in other situations in which the student does not have constant teacher attention and feedback, which is supplied instead through the interactive product. The material may be accessed through a CD-ROM, DVD, download, or online. Interactive educational products also allow a single product to offer differentiated instruction to students at a variety of levels. For example, one student might use hyperlinks to look up vocabulary or background material that another student has already grasped. By providing built-in support that is accessed only if needed, the product can seem "just right" to students of different abilities.
Interactive digital media are not restricted to access through a computer keyboard. The Nintendo® Wii™ and similar devices allow users to interact with provided material in what seems like a 3D environment. The users may hold computer mice, game controllers, remote controls, proprietary devices and/or other controllers that enable them to point and move in order to choose, navigate, or otherwise act in the environment. For the Wii™, the balance board senses motion and weight, allowing additional kinds of interaction with the environment.