New to multimedia? Here's a background to the field.
Multimedia in its simplest form is any form of communication that
uses more than one media type at a time. In modern times the advent
of musical accompaniment to silent films was an early form of multimedia.
Even the simplest ancient dance forms use multiple media types in the
form of sound and vision to convey additional meaning.
The currently accepted understanding of multimedia generally involves a variety of media, such as still images, video, sound, music and text, presented using a computer as the storage device, delivery controller and delivery medium. The various media types are usually stored as digital assets and their delivery to the viewer is facilitated by some sort of authoring language, for example HTML (in the case of web pages) or Macromedia's Lingo in the case of a CD-ROM based presentation.
Even nowadays, most media types are only designed to be perceived by two senses, vision and hearing. Still, incredibly powerful messages can be communicated using just these two senses.
A subset of multimedia is interactive multimedia. In this definition the delivery of the assets is dependent on decisions made by the viewer at the time of viewing. Some subject areas lend themselves to interactivity, such as self-paced learning and game play. Other areas are mostly not enhanced by interactivity: here we find the traditional film and storytelling genres, where we are expected to travel in a prescribed direction to perceive the message in a sequential fashion.
Good interactive multimedia programming exploits the potential which arises from more flexibility of choice. The viewer is able to enter the 'data cloud' and choose their path through it. The choices we make are significant and individual, and enhance our experience of the presentation, and hence enhance our ability to learn from that experience.