Hypermedia is a methodology that a program uses to provide a database of information and navigational tools that users can use to direct themselves throughout a program (
Alessi, 138). A hypermedia program supplies users with special educational features that facilitate learning. Hypermedia is an extension of the term hypertext. This text with links provide connections between different information. Hypermedia also uses text with audio, video, photographs, and other sensory media.

Hypermedia is the methodology that educators today believe facilitates learning. This idea stems from the rise of the constructivist philosophy in the education community. Constructivists believe that knowledge is constructed in the minds of learners. Learners are to be active participants in the learning process, instead of passive learners who are given knowledge by educators (Ormrod, 28). They should be exploring, researching, experimenting, asking questions, and attempting to find answers. Hypermedia complements the constructivist philosophy of education because its programs are designed with the learner in mind. These open-ended programs grant learners the ability to explore, research, experiment, ask questions, and search for answers. This is in the opposite spectrum of programs that consist of drills and tutorials that make the learner passive.


1. Structure of Hypermedia
2. Hypermedia Formats:
  • 2.1 General Reference
  • 2.2 Specific Subject Matter Reference
  • 2.3 Analysis of a Domain
  • 2.4 Case Study
  • 2.5 Construction Set
  • 2.6 Edutainment
  • 2.7 Museum
  • 2.8 Archive
3. Hypermedia Database:
  • 3.1 Media Types
    • 3.1.1 Text
    • 3.1.2 Still Pictorial Images
    • 3.1.3 Motion Images
    • 3.1.4 Aural Information
  • 3.2 Size and Organization of the Database
4. Navigation:
  • 4.1 Hyperlinks
  • 4.2 Other Navigation Methods
5. Support for Learning:
  • 5.1 Motivation
  • 5.2 Encoding and Retention
  • 5.3 Using Knowledge
6. Learning Strategies:
  • 6.1 Metacognition
  • 6.2 Learner Orientation
  • 6.3 Encoding, Recall, and Comprehension
7. Features and Techniques Facilitating Learning Strategies
  • 7.1 Self-tests
  • 7.2 Multiple Views and Role-Playing
  • 7.3 Giving Problems and Playing Games
  • 7.4 Cognitive Mapping
  • 7.5 Coaching
  • 7.6 Human Tutor
8. External Links
9. References

Structure of Hypermedia

To new users of hypermedia, these types of programs seem to have an absence of structure, however this is not the case. The structure of a hypermedia program is composed of many pages that hold many objects, such as images, sounds, and texts (
Alessi, 141). These objects are connected to other objects and pages, as a consequence, the pages are not always in a traditional sequential order. A user can observe or interact with a page and then proceed to another page by selecting a link. Any link in a page can place a user to another part of the program. There are multiple methods for a user to move around a program. The most general method of navigation is the hyperlink. Hyperlinks are words or images that transfer a user to another page. These links are usually altered visually in some way to indicate their purpose. Other methods of proceeding in a program are menus, buttons, indexes, and word searches.

Hypermedia Formats

General Reference
General reference is a type of hypermedia that contains large amounts of information that is listed and cataloged (Alessi, 143). This type of program consists of countless text, pictures, audio and movies. There are links that help users to move around related topics or information. Text keywords can be searched, topic lists can be viewed, and users can have access to different media.
Examples of general references are encyclopedias, dictionaries, thesauruses, and atlases. This type of hypermedia is used similarly to textbooks. There are very little interactive features that facilitate learning strategies. These resources are mainly used as research tools. They do not teach like tutorials do, but alternately provide large quantity of information that students can use to research different topics.

Encarta Reference Library
Encarta Reference Library

Specific Subject Matter Reference
Specific subject matter references are similar to general reference in that they contain large amounts of information that users can navigate through using hyperlinks, indexes, menus, and word searches (Alessi, 144). However, these programs’ information focuses on a specific subject matter. For example, How Your Body Works is a specific subject matter reference that only contains information on the body and how it functions.

Analysis of a Domain
Analysis of a domain is hypermedia format that also provides a database of information of a specific subject that students can navigate through (Alessi, 145). However, instead of only presenting information, this type of format analyzes the topics, intricacies, debates, and multiple perspectives of a subject area. An example of this type of format is a program that focused on the themes of the movie Citizen Kane. This program provided in depth analysis of the different themes found in the movie.

Case Study
The case study format is similar to analysis of a domain because it also contains in depth analysis of a topic (Alessi, 146). However, it differs due to the more precise and clear subject. This subject can be a specific person, historical event, or a work by a person. This record of research provides great detail in the development, issues, and complexities of the subject.

Edutainment format is a program that simultaneously provides education and entertainment to the user (Alessi, 147). The hyperlinks in this program are not always bold, underlined or in another color. They can be cartoon icons or visually friendly pictures of different objects or people.

Construction Set
For the construction set format, learners can develop their own hypermedia creations on the Web (Alessi, 147). An example of this is The Visual Almanac. This CD-ROM software contains a videodisc and a HyperCard. The videodisc holds numerous pictures, photos, movies, and sounds for different topics. The HyperCard allows learners to create their own works, such as presentations and reports, with text and pictures that are created by the user. The objects in the videodisc can be used by the learner for their own compositions.

Your local museum functions similarly to a hypermedia program. A museum provides information by displaying different exhibits that visitors can observe. These visitors can navigate through the museum and view the different exhibits in whatever sequence they wish. A museum hypermedia program provides recordings of a museum's exhibits (Alessi, 148). This can be presented through interactive exhibits and images containing descriptive information. Some of the museum program are designed as virtual reality. A user can walk through a virtual museum looking at the different exhibits.

Virtual Museum
Virtual Museum

The archive hypermedia program is a storage of extensive data that contains historical documents, images, and records, such as newspaper articles and photographs (Alessi, 149). This type of program allows users to view original material in its original audio, video, pictorial, or textual form.

Hypermedia Database

A hypermedia educational program consists of a database of information. There are factors that characterize a hypermedia database: media types, size and organization of the database, and modifiability.

Media Types

There are many advantages for using text in hypermedia programs (Alessi, 151). Text provides information about a topic and especially benefits good readers. Text can be easily searched and its appearance can also be modified by altering color, size, font, or style. Complex concepts can be explained through text and can be displayed on almost every computer. Text allows learners to process the information at their own comfortable pace. The disadvantages are that poor readers could have trouble with reading complex text and it does not draw the attention of users.
Additionally, text can be accessed through scrolling or paging. Through the use of a scroll bar, any length of text can fit and be viewed on a page. For paging, text is placed in one single screen and provides buttons that allow useres to move from page to page. A research study conducted by Filiz Eyuboglu and Feza Orhan showed that learners with any cognitive style can learn and be satisfied to the same degree using both scrolling or paging (Eyuboglu, 50).


Still Pictorial Images
Still pictorial images draw the attention of users because of their visual representation of informational text (Alessi, 151). This is an advantage if the topic is a complex or abstract idea. Learners can encode information easily into their long-term memory if visual imagery of the information is stored (Ormrod, 195). Still pictorial images can provide learners with the visual imagery. Images also help pages appear more attractive and polished, and they do not require reading, which would benefit poor-ability readers.

Cell Pictorial Image
Cell Pictorial Image
Flower Pictorial Image
Flower Pictorial Image
Motion Images
Motion images can be videos or animations that attract the attention of users through their energy and active quality that is conveyed (Alessi, 151). With these qualities, attitudes and motivation from the learners increase, which make them easier to remember. However, motion images do not allow the learners to process information at their own pace. They would need to play back or rewind the visual clips. Important information could be missed if the learner's information processing ability is slower than the speed of the information provided. Additionally, videos and animations can be costly to develop, and they do not work very well with text.

Aural Information
Aural information can consist of voice, music, and sound effects (Alessi, 151). Since this type of information is aural, learners do not have to be looking at the screen to obtain information. When aural information is used simultaneously with motion images, still pictorial images, or text, enhances learning more because of the use of two informational forms. This idea is consistent with Pavio's Dual Coding Theory that states there are different channels in the human mind, which have their own limitations (
Alty, 3). Providing two informational forms fills in the gaps that each channel lacks.

Size and Organization of the Database

The size of the content of a hypermedia program can range from small amount of content, like a short textbook, to a large and extensive amount of content, like an encyclopedia hypermedia (Alessi, 152). The size of the content of a hypermedia program is determined by the amount of words, pictures, and other media elements, and the amount of memory or storage space a database would need. However, for small size databases it would be preferable to use another form of methodology, for example tutorials or drill practice programs. Additionally, larger the database, there needs to be an increase in navigational features and provide more features that facilitate learning.
There are numerous ways of organizing the data in a hypermedia program. Data can be organized alphabetically, temporally, or hierarchically. However, hypermedia programs should provide a database with multiple methods of organization since the database can be divided into numerous domains. For example, a specific subject matter reference hypermedia reference for world history would need to organize its database into country, year, and the concept since each piece of information can be in these different fields.



Hyperlinks help connect you to different parts of a hypermedia program. They come in many different forms, such as movies, pictures, icons, words, phrases, and any object that can be clicked on. These hyperlinks should only be connected to crucial information (Alessi, 156). For objects that are words, they can be a distraction when a user is trying to read the text. It would be more effective if the words were put in a vocabulary list at the bottom or the side of the page.
Visibility is also crucial for the effectiveness of hyperlinks. These objects need to be distinct and easily seen. However, making the links too apparent and striking will affect the aesthetics of your page. Additionally there should be a reasonable amount of density of hyperlinks in each page. Too many links would create a chaotic atmosphere to your hypermedia program.
Marking is beneficial to users and is a behavior that many Web browsers provide. This behavior is when hyperlink words or phrases alter in color to alert a user that the link has already been selected.

Hyperlinks that connect users to different areas
Hyperlinks that connect users to different areas

Other Navigation Methods
There are other navigation methods that can be used along with hyperlinks (Alessi, 160). These methods include menus (nonlinear features that informs you where you are going), indexes (help you to search for words and phrases and browse for words that the author of the program indexed), table of contents, maps (navigational device), timelines (visually reveal different eras of history), picture collections, searching, bookmarking (learner can mark pages) and histories (learners can go back to any recent pages).

Fram menu always let's users see their options
Fram menu always let's users see their options
Support for Learning

Keller's ARCS Motivation Theory states that there should be four aspects that should be taken to account for instruction: attention, relevance, confidence, and satisfaction. Malone's Motivation Theory provided four factors that influenced motivation: challenge, curiosity, control, and fantasy. For the purpose of hypermedia, three of these factors can be applied into these programs (Alessi, 25-26). For attention, hypermedia designers need to provide an attractive display with different media to capture the attention throughout the use of the hypermedia program. Designers also need to provide support in briefing learners on the use of the program and navigation (confidence), and provide navigational methods that are straight forward and easily operated (control).

Keller's ARCS Motivation Theory
Keller's ARCS Motivation Theory
Encoding and Retention
Encoding and retention can be assisted through organization and logical sequencing. Through the use of the principle of organization, the program designer must provide organizers, such as advance organizers and diagrams, since information that is organized is better remembered (Alessi, 22). Logical sequencing, such as providing concluding summaries, will additionally help learners retain information more effectively.

Learning Strategies

Metacognition is the process of thinking about one's own cognitive process. Metacognition consists of reflection, assessment, planning, and initiating cognitive activities. Hypermedia programs are great for demanding metacognition from learners since this type of program requires more learner control and self-direction. According to researchers Roger Azevedo and Daniel Moo, prior domain knowledge is related to metacognition (2009). Learners use their prior knowledge when using monitoring processes. The researchers concluded that learners who have higher domain knowledge can make better decisions during the process of learning than learners who have low prior domain knowledge.

Learner Orientation
Hypermedia programs must also provide learner orientation so that learners can spend majority of their time learning, instead of being lost and trying to figure out how to get a specific place in a program (Alessi, 168).

Encoding, Recall, and Comprehension
For encoding, a process of altering the format of new information for storage in memory, hypermedia programs can provide activities that facilitate these processes (Alessi, 168). Examples of these activities can be note-taking, discussions, reviews, and mental models. Recall, a process of retrieving information from long-term memory, can be facilitated through activities that are based on the principles of organization and repetition. Learners can download lectures or audio clips to listen to them repeatedly and download text documents that they can look over at any time. Activities that include creating diagrams can also assist in facilitating organization. Comprehension can be assisted through similar activities in hypermedia programs.

Features and Techniques Facilitating Learning Strategies

A self-test is a part of a hypermedia program that learners can use to assess their knowledge and skills of the content they encountered in the program (Alessi, 170). These tests can include quizzes, practice tests, check-ups, and final test. These tests should be accessible through the menu of the program. The main focus for these tests should be feedback and not about achievement scores. Providing explanations for their misunderstandings can help learners with their metacognition strategies.

Multiple Views, and Role-Playing
A learner can experience multiple views of a concept that a hypermedia program presents using menus or other navigational methods (Alessi, 171). Providing multiple perspectives assists in metacognition, comprehension, and application. Role-playing also provides a way for students to experience different perspectives. Edutainment programs can have learners take on roles that require specific skills, such as a pioneer traveling through the Oregon Trail, or take on role as a learner like a customer taking a tour.

Oregon Trail role-playing game
Oregon Trail role-playing game

Giving Problems and Playing Games
Hypermedia programs can provide problems that require learners to use the knowledge and skills that they have learned through the use of the programs (Alessi, 171). These problems require comprehension and metacognition. Learners can also practice the knowledge and skills that they gain from a program by playing games. These games present specific rules and an entertaining way for learners to solve problems that are content specific.

Playing games using relevant knowledge and skills
Playing games using relevant knowledge and skills

Cognitive Mapping
Cognitive mapping provides learners a way to visually see the relationships between concepts through the use of arrows (Alessi, 171). This feature assists in recall, comprehension, encoding, and orientation.

Cognitive map for parts of speech
Cognitive map for parts of speech
Coaching is a feature that appears when learners have questions and need help when they find themselves in trouble. A coach can provide audio, text, or a video message to provide answers to any questions. Since learners are thinking about whether or not they understand the content, this feature benefits metacognition (Alessi, 169).

Microsoft Word 97's Clippy coaching a user
Microsoft Word 97's Clippy coaching a user

Human Tutor
Human tutoring is a resource learners can benefit from when using hypermedia for difficult subject matter. According to researchers Roger Azevedo and Daniel Moos, hypermedia can be used to increase learners' understanding of difficult science topics by using human tutors (2008). The main purpose of a human tutor is to facilitate the use of self-regulation for adolescent learners that can ultimately increase understanding and even higher academic achievement. The researchers found that externally-facilitated regulated learning is more effective than self-regulated learning because of the learning gains on declarative knowledge measures.


Alessi, Stephen M., and Trollip, Stanley R., “Multimedia for Learning,” Methods and Development, 3rd ed.

Alty, James L., "Dual Coding Theory and Computer Education: Some Media Experiments To Examine the Effects of Different Media on Learning," Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education, published June 2002

Azevedo, Roger., and Moos, Daniel C., “Self-efficacy and prior domain knowledge: to what extent does monitoring mediate their relationship with hypermedia learning?,” Metacognition Learning, published 22 April 2009, Vol. 4, No. 3, 2009

Azevedo, Roger., Moos, Daniel C., and etc., “Why is externally-facilitated regulated learning more effective than self-regulated learning with hypermedia,” Education Tech Research Dev, published 29 September 2007, Vol. 56, No. 1, 2008

Eyuboglu, Filiz., and Orhan, Feza., “Paging and scrolling: Cognitive style in learning from hypermedia,” British Journal of Educational Technology, published Vol. 42, No. 1, 2011, pp. 50-65

Ormrod, Jeanne E., “Educational Psychology,” Developing Learners, 7th ed.

"Scrolling vs. Paging Websites," Interactive Media Associates [online], Vol. 1, No. 5, 2003, http://www.imakenews.com/imediainc/e_article000171670.cfm [retrieved 11 April 2011]

External Links

Hypertext and Hypermedia

What is Hypermedia?

Most Recent Articles from Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia

What is a Hypermedia?