Multimedia, modalities and middle ages...

In the medieval society the church saw as her task to disseminate the bible to as much people as possible. However reading was the privilege of a small group . To serve the illiterates, bibles with pictures were constructed, almost similar to cartoon books.

When building churches the principles of pictures were practiced by using paintings, statues and stained glass. Music was used to arouse the emotions of people and let them participate more actively in the celebrations. For that reason organs were used, already from the early middle ages.
Using smells, like incense, completed a holistic approach to store the cognitions and emotions aroused by the celebrations. This approach was also called biblia pauperum: the bible for the poor people.

From recent neuropsychological research we know that the use of pictures, sound and smell is an enormous powerful tool to store learning events successfully. Everybody knows to recall a specific smell that reminds him/her suddenly to a lot of detailed events and emotions. When hearing favourite music, our brains produce dopamine, that makes us feel comfortable. The use of these multimodal aspects in the middle ages was, although intuitive, so powerful that modern multimedia developers still can learn a lot from it. Recent findings regarding (new)literacy confirms this.

During a visit to Braga (Portugal), guest lecturing at the Universidade do Minho, we discussed this phenomenon with Prof. Maria José Machado. She arranged a visit to the famous organs of the cathedral (Sé de Braga). Sitting high above the people, immersed in the technology of a three hundred years old instrument, knowing the neuropsychological impact of music on the learning of people, we felt humble and looked with relativism to our modern technological inventions regarding multimedia. Once again it demonstrated that our brains did not change significantly for 40.000 years….. enabling us to learn either open and free by ourselves (mathetic learning) or learn in a well prepared learning environment guided by teachers (as offered by the churches).

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31 reacties:

Anonymous Anoniem zei...

Have been reading the book "Musicophilia:Tales of Music and the Brain." By Oliver Sachs, Vintage Books, 2008.

Your idea of the biblia pauperum as a multi modal tool to empower illiterate people and teach them the basics of a religion is very strong, and supported by the book.

Ken O'Reilly, UCLA, California

11:28 a.m.  
Anonymous Anoniem zei...

Music also activates the structures for arousal and attention (Thalamus and anterior Gyrus cinguli) and could have positive effects on welbeing and achievemens.
Music stimulates our physical reward system, like sex and drugs also do (Sachs points to that).

Anna Maria Parese, Italy Ph.D. student

5:26 p.m.  
Anonymous Anoniem zei...

Almost all religions use music in the way you described. All kinds of instruments are used, from the human voice to drums, flutes and stringed instruments. Working often in a Buddhist area i am interested in the organ as a typical christian instrument to guide the human emotions.

Dr. Gopinathan, Singapore

6:09 p.m.  
Anonymous Anoniem zei...

Hi John!
Thanks for your insights in this topic. Dieter told me a lot about you. I stumbled upon your blog searching for some deeper; practical insights about Mathetics.

Concerning multimodal aspects in ICT (E-learning), how would that be properly implemented? By what I've researched so far, everyone has her/his own main (strong) modal aspect and some (weaker) ones. To incorporate this variety of aspects into a learning enviroment is a challange.

Best regards Hauke, Universität Osnabrück

11:05 a.m.  
Anonymous Anoniem zei...

Hi Hauke!
Thanks for your reaction to this blog item. Your question regarding the incorporation of all the multimodal aspects in a learning environment is indeed of great importance. Part of the answer can perhaps be found in a new publication, being released end of August 2009 : Unterrichtsentwicklung via eLearning.
In this publication grounding theories are presented, useful for constructing multi modal learning environments.
Best regards, John

9:53 p.m.  
Anonymous Anoniem zei...

Thanks John!

Looking forward to it. It comes right on time. It is just such an interesting topic.

Maybe we meet sooner or later, since I work together with Dieter. I think that may happen during the coming month.
All the best - Hauke

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