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Dec302013

Multisensory Learning and Perceptual Immersion in the 21st Century 

Karina Saravia
December, 2013 

Image Source: "Searching for the Mind", Dr. Jon Lieff's BlogIn a world inundated with excess stimuli, appealing to the senses can affectively, and therefore, effectively recruit attention. It is the essence of communication. In order to learn what we learn we must first pay attention to the stimuli that provides the said stimulation. 

Media, design and aesthetics are nearly as important as the actual information being transmitted. Learning environments (e.g., schools, universities, conferences, workshops) draw in multiple senses and facilitate the learning process by using images, audio clips, videos, and interactive learning software and web applications to supplement text. Instructive video games, activate the visual, auditory, and tactile senses and have been linked to higher rates of learning and neuroplasticity. This stimulating perceptual environment engages the audience and immerses them in the subject matter. In the words of Diana Slattery, "…immersion is primarily a quality of consciousness that has to do with the capture and control of attention, a necessary condition for any interpersonal persuasion, education, or entertainment to occur." Immersion is powerful.  

Modern tools and dynamic multimedia avenues are being used to yield public interest and understanding within academic settings and beyond. By way of social media and mobile devices, memes and viral videos are undeniably seducing the senses by making information more salient. Pintrest and Instagram use images to guide people through D.I.Y. projects and food recipes. With Youtube, people can learn dance and exercise routines, how to solve math problems, and even how to play instruments. The amount of “likes” and “shares” attest to the influence of these mediums. They must be used constructively to bring forth a more conscientious society. 

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