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Using Audio in eLearning November 16, 2007

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
Tags: , , , ,

Cathy Moore has a great blog post about using audio and narration in eLearning. It’s worth a read. I’ve discussed narration in eLearning before, but Cathy does a better job of breaking down the different ways audio and narration can (and should) be used. I admit that I fall into a rut in this area: Once I start building courses a certain way, I tend to stick to the same model for too long. Sure, I always try to get feedback from users, but I need to be better about investigating when and where to best use audio and narration.

Cathy also references an article on Tom Kuhlmann’s Rapid eLearning Blog about the use of visuals and audio in eLearning. Tom offers up a great demo where he shows 4 possible combinations of text, audio, and images. I think it’s easy to tell which of the four is most effective. Take a look for yourself.

These articles are a great example of how the simplest things can greatly improve the learning experience. It’s easy to think that you need the latest and greatest development tools, but that’s not the case. Good design skills and a solid understanding of human-computer interaction can take you far…


1. doofdaddy - November 16, 2007

Thanks for the plug. It’s cool being able to connect these blogs and creating a great resource for learning. I wish that those tools were available when I first started. Would have saved me a lot of time and spared many learners from some pretty bad stuff:) Have a great weekend.


2. Laura Kratochvil - November 16, 2007

Yes, Cathy has some great things to say about this…and very very practical for the “real” world. Very refreshing. Since, I have to admit, although I came out of a very focussed multimedia theory masters program (Rich Mayer, Clark, et. al research base, I am a bit dispointed (yikes, if my professors could see me now) in today’s “research” side of media “modes” audio, text, visuals, etc. I feel like we need to really go beyond. eLearning, although we are way cool, we are not the only profession that has incorporated all of these media modes into “changing people” or communication…audio, visuals. Why don’t we look at what other have done more so…advertising, movies, etc. Look more so at the “whole package” in media====all together now, sound, text, action…Let’s look at what makes it a good multimedia package ….so what if we use text integrated with pictures…does doing that really mean that the learning happens because we did so?–I think that there is a next step in this process that eLearning really hasn’t looked at…so we have more work ahead of us…but the journey could be fun.

3. Cathy Moore - November 17, 2007

I agree with Laura that we need to look more at other fields, especially marketing. I think one of the challenges of elearning is that we often put information in our materials that would be better off in a more conventional reference. Our concern about comprehension comes in part from the fact that we’re cramming too much info in there to start with, and we’re (rightly!) concerned about the learner being able to go back and review that info. We could be more effective if we used the main “course” as a motivator (and made it way shorter), put the reference info in a reference, and provided just-in-time interactives to clarify or demonstrate info that’s in the reference.

Most of the elearning samples in my blog are infographics developed by journalists, museums, and other non-instructional designers. They’re not trying to teach 2 hours worth of privacy regulations. They cover just one small part of a bigger picture, and they do it concisely and engagingly. We could do the same with our materials. We’re all about “chunking,” right? So I vote for small, nimble interactives that support other modes. We’re trying to do too much with one tool (the online course).

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