This book was inspired by a desire to discover methods and models for doing research related to multimedia design, development and evaluation. Such research is inherently multi-disciplinary and inherently messy. The use of multimedia to visually represent knowledge, information, and processes, and to support computer-based and networked environments is now standard practice. The models and frameworks used to guide multimedia design thinking are rooted in relatively obsolete communications and software design approaches. The emergence of dynamic, networked web-centric environments has created new opportunities for theory-building and has opened new avenues of research into long-standing questions about the effect of multimedia on learning. Unfortunately, empirical evidence describing best practices and models for applying multimedia in various settings is relatively scant. It was for this reason that the first Interactive Convergence conference was conceived.
The conference, held in Prague during the summer of 2003, was devoted to dialogue about multimedia research across a wide variety of disciplines. Papers were presented by a diverse group of individuals representing more than 10 countries and many forms of multimedia research. Subjects covered were impressive in their range from theorybuilding and conceptualizing to controlled studies examining multimedia effects, and almost everything in between! Much of the focus of this collection is on teaching and learning in school settings since these learning environments offer excellent opportunities to do research related to practice. Some chapters also focus on the design of multimedia environments and offer models for improving or radically altering the design process.