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Case 2 - Mayerizing a Presentation

Original Presentation:

Our task was to improve upon an existing, imperfect presentation from Slideshare.   To do so, we modified the original slides while focusing on Mayer's principles of redundancy, coherence, signaling, and spatial and temporal contiguity.   In this review, we will summarize the types of changes that we made in each of the five areas and provide examples of some of those changes. 

With regards to redundancy, we looked for areas in which we could eliminate extraneous on screen text from the presentation.  Mayer (2009) states that people learn better from graphics and narration than they do from graphics, narration, and text (p. 118).  He also states that to avoid redundancy, a presenter should avoid on screen text that duplicates the narration.  For that reason, we chose to primarily use narration and graphics in our presentation rather than the narration, graphics, and text utilized in the original presentation.  We did allow ourselves to use short captions or bullets as permitted by the boundary described by Mayer (p. 134).  Here is an example that compares an original slide with the new slide that we improved using Mayer's principle of redundancy.  First the slide from the Slideshare presentation:


Now, let's take a look at the improved version that applies Mayer's principle of redundancy:

In the new and improved version, we removed the redundant text from the bottom of the slide and replaced it with narration, a short bullet, and a highlighting of the relevant portion of the screen.  This type of highlighting is also an example of the signaling principle.

Mayer (2009) states that people learn more deeply when extraneous, words pictures, sounds, music, and symbols are eliminated in online (p. 108).  Therefore, to apply this principle of coherence, we looked to remove extraneous words and pictures from our slides.   Here is a very good example that compares an original slide full of extraneous information with an improved version of the same slide which applies Mayer's principle of coherence.  First let's look at the original slide:

Now let's view the new and improved slide:

As you can see, the new slide removed the two images from the original slide.  These images served no real purpose and did not bring any new, meaningful content or context to the presentation.  We also chose to remove the second and third bullets from the original slide.  The second bullet, while providing some context, seemed more like an advertisement for the presenter's upcoming book.  It did nothing to provide the audience a better understanding of Web 2.0.  The third bullet on the original slide linked to an earlier version of the same presentation.   It goes without saying that the current presentation should be updated with the latest and greatest information.  Anything relevant from the old presentation should have made it into the current presentation.  This makes the old presentation obsolete and insignificant. 

The signaling principle states that people learn better when they are provided cues that highlight the organization of the essential material (Mayer, 2009, p. 108).  To apply this principle, we included a brief outline at the start of the presentation that chunked our content into four distinct parts.  As we progressed through the presentation, we highlighted the chunk that we were going to cover next.  This slide demonstrates one example of our application of the signaling principle:

Spatial contiguity refers to the fact that students learn better when corresponding words and graphics are presented closer together on the page or screen (Mayer, 2009, p. 135). Below are two illustrations of our application of the spatial contiguity principle.  In the original presentation, this content was provided by text and narration alone.


Research shows that students learn better when corresponding words and pictures are presented simultaneously rather than successively (Mayer, 2009, p. 153).  This is known as the principle of temporal contiguity.  In looking through the original presentation, there was one section in which it was apparent the principle of temporal contiguity was not followed.  In that section, the presenter listed a variety of virtual worlds and then provided two screen shots as examples.  Here is how the original presentation looked:

Now, here is our improved version of the same content:

In the end, you can see how our application of Mayer's five principles greatly improves the delivery of the original presentation.  However, we freely admit that our revised presentation is not perfect either.   For one thing we were unable to apply, or we applied them rather poorly as you see with some of the audio stops in our slides, some of Mayer's principles due to the limitations of PowerPoint.  Since PowerPoint does not have a timeline feature, synching the audio and visuals in the ways that Myer describes (p. 131) is nearly impossible.  Still, by reducing extraneous cognitive processing, we drastically improve the audience's chances of learning the content presented. 


Mayer, R. E. (2009). Multimedia learning. New York: Cambridge University Press.