Multiple choice questions are usually applied as part of the horror of exams, but also increasingly in E-Learning courses in the quest to create automation and reduce the need for interaction with teachers.
Sorry... The official line is usually that multiple choice questions in eLearning programs allow learners to get much more rapid feedback. Given this is usually "CORRECT" or "INCORRECT" I would agree that it is rapid, but as feedback it is insipid at best.
You won't be surprised to hear, then, that I've never been a particularly big fan of the multiple choice technique, whether it was for assessment or general materials design (and given I wrote 20 coursebooks where multiple choice questions were expected every couple of pages or so, I've been there and experienced the pain as much as learners potentially have...).
However, as with anything, it is worth looking at things from new angles, and when new tools come along it's useful to explore new opportunities to facilitate better learning. Via the next generation of rapid authoring eLearning tools, the rather archaic multiple choice technique can actually get quite interesting. If we look at it in a new way. If we put a little more effort into it...
The sample shown below, using Articulate Storyline, demonstrates how we might apply multiple choice as more of a learning experience (rather than an exam), with additional explanations (text and voice) from a teacher:
This isn't my most ingenious multiple choice question, I must confess, and it was mostly thrown together to create a workable example for you. However, the first thing you might notice about this is how little this resembles your typical multiple choice question in terms of format and presentation (there's none of this A, B, C or D to start with).
Also, the information in the video (courtesy Bioengineering Group) that answers the question occurs at about the 01.40 mark in the YouTube track above, and it is from that point that you can see how the multiple choice question branches out and does something rather different.
It doesn't simply indicate right or wrong and move on. It sees each answer option as an opportunity to inform the learner how correct or incorrect their selection is, and why, with both pop up text and teacher voice recording to accompany the selection. The feedback is still rapid and automated, but it's certainly richer and multi-modal.
If anything, this process sees multiple choice as a chance to explore and facilitate learning rather than pretend to check understanding as part of a test.
Of course, creating multiple choice questions in this fashion takes more time and thought, because you have to factor in richer, more informative feedback as well. For example, here's what the planning/mapping document for the task above looked like:
I'll admit there's no rocket science going on here, and this is in fact what good F2F classroom teachers will do in an interactive way when they tackle multiple choice questions with groups of learners.
Lazier, less inclined teachers won't bother with the contextualisation or explanation; they'll just say right or wrong and go on to the next question in the book.
Lazier, less inclined eLearning programs will do the same thing.
In both cases they are capable of doing and being better.