Interactive multimedia is a dynamic technology that requires certain input from the user in order to deliver a set of information through words, graphics, images, or videos. Depending on whether a computer user types in certain text or clicks a certain button, many interactive multimedia applications are programmed to display a specific result and give immediate feedback. The underlying purpose to this technology is to convey information in more interesting formats that can grab the user's attention and create rich learning experiences. With the many different purposes for creating this kind of digital content, interactive multimedia design can also be a rewarding career field.
The term hypermedia is sometimes used interchangeably with multimedia, but the definitions are somewhat different. Hypermedia actually refers to the technology used to link different multimedia files and applications together across a network. This practice builds on the concept of linking different text documents together across the Web through the use of hyperlinks. Hypermedia takes this concept a step further and links related content that can be made up of images, text, animations, and video.
Several diverse fields such as education and entertainment have their own applications of interactive media. Specialists in learning theory have found different ways to use interactive media as an effective means of teaching lessons that are retained at a higher rate. This practice has been applied often in the development of programs meant to teach the use of specific software such as a word processing or a spreadsheet program. Some learning theorists believe that students who take self-paced lessons with interactive video perform better on exams and are more capable of applying learned skills.
The entertainment industry also has many uses for interactive multimedia. The special effects seen in video games and feature films rely heavily on the technology behind interactive media design. Some developments in video games allow the player to take on more of an active rather than a passive role thanks to intricate program design that uses the parameters of interactive multimedia.
Many colleges and universities offer interactive multimedia degrees, which can lead to career opportunities developing new uses for multimedia technology as well as expanding on existing ones. Knowledge of human-computer interaction, digital design principles, and interactive video principles provides a good foundation for working in this evolving field. Information technology graduates with a background in interactive media can often choose various career concentrations such as Web design and desktop publishing.