By increasingly complementing traditional classes with innovative computer-based tools, institutions encourage students to foster the active assimilation of additional knowledge in order for meaningful learning to occur. Yet, despite an increase in examining the effectiveness of computer-based learning tools and traditional methods both individually or comparing one another, research has not fully addressed which factors determine the assimilation of additional contents when traditional and innovative methods are complementarily used. In this study, we analyze the effect of three variables in the learning process: the prior knowledge gained from lectures, the students’ attitude toward using an innovative tool, and the effective use of this tool. The study of the effects of these factors on the assimilation of complementary knowledge is particularly relevant in the multimedia environment. Specifically, video podcasts, which are defined as video files that are distributed in a digital format through the Internet using personal computers or mobile devices, are evolving rapidly in higher education due to their pedagogical possibilities such as providing supplementary materials to improve learning. The aim of this study is to provide useful insights about the complementarity between traditional and innovative methods in teaching practice. Specifically, we explore the value of video podcasts in the learning process, investigating the above-mentioned factors that may account for the assimilation of additional knowledge when video podcasts are used as complementary tools to lectures. Drawing on the absorptive capacity theory and the cognitive theory of multimedia learning, we develop a combined conception of the process by which students improve their capacity to assimilate learning material provided by video podcasts.

After designing and creating an enhanced video podcast that contains supplementary material to lectures related to an specific course in a Business Management program, students were asked to fill in a survey. We reported data from 179 participants. Analyses were conducted using LISREL 8.80, and the usual steps for doing structural equation modeling were followed for the development of a model that represents the hypothesized relationships. The results showed that all hypothesized relationships were supported. Findings demonstrated the positive effects of prior stored knowledge and effective use of video podcasts on students’ capacity to assimilate additional knowledge presented in video podcasts. It was also found that the attitude toward using video podcasts positively affects the effective use of this tool. In this paper we also discuss the results and the main contributions to research and practice.