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What Is Interactive Multimedia?

By Angela Farrer
Updated May 16, 2024
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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.

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Discussion Comments

By ddljohn — On Jul 13, 2011

My friend has software on her website that plays music automatically when you're on the site. This is not interactive multimedia right?

It would be if I could control the music, start it and stop it or select which song I want to listen to. But since it functions on its own without any interaction on my side, I think it is non-interactive.

Did I understand this right?

What are some examples of interactive multimedia on websites?

By serenesurface — On Jul 12, 2011

@burcinc-- I also remember that typing software we used in school. Schools have come a long way now though.

They now use touch screens and interactive boards in the classroom. We couldn't have even imagined such multimedia when we were in school. Now classes are even taught online, lessons are completely interactive. Doing computer simulations and even virtual reality programs are starting to become common. It's pretty amazing.

By burcinc — On Jul 12, 2011

I think my first experience with interactive multimedia was in middle school. We had computer programs for different purposes like learning to type and vocabulary software. We used these at least once a week and I think it made a big difference for me.

My generation's use of and knowledge of these interactive multimedia is probably what makes us so technology savvy. Every time a new technology, a new gadget comes out, I learn to use it almost immediately. During my parents' time, there was no such thing and they have a hard time learning to use new gadgets.

Even if you've learned to use a single type of interactive multimedia, I think that's a big advantage. Because more and more technologies are relying on this and they are all similar in many ways. So when you know to use one, you can learn to use others very quickly.

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