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Audio in An E-learning Course – Part 1

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Audio in An E-learning Course - Part 1

Before I start with this topic, I want to know your preference of audio:

  • Do you prefer an eLearning course without audio?
  • Do you prefer an eLearning course with complete audio (verbatim)?
  • Do you prefer an eLearning course with partial audio?

These are the three different audio preferences that clients have while developing an eLearning course.

1. How do you define an audio in an eLearning context?

Audio component in an eLearning course can be defined as elements of narration, music, and sounds used to enhance learning effectiveness.

Each of these elements has its own significance. Narration is used in the main content, Introductory slide, On-screen instructions, and summary. Music is used while reading content or performing an activity. And, lastly, sounds are used while demonstration of an equipment or providing feedback (say for example, clapping sound for a correct answer).

2. What is the theoretical framework that governs the use of audio in an eLearning course?

We all know that there are three types of learners: Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic. Incorporation of audio in an eLearning is mainly thought of to aid the auditory learners. Auditory learners assimilate ideas or concepts better when they hear them. And, moreover, they can perform their tasks with only verbal instructions. So, audio has become a prerequisite for an auditory learner.

Let’s see, what other theoretical framework defines the use of audio. There are two such principles which need consideration: Modality and Redundancy Principle.

  • Modality Principle can be defined as “Learners can learn better from animation and narration than only from animation and on-screen text”.
  • Redundancy Principle can be defined as “Learners can learn better from animation and narration than from animation, narration, and on-screen text”.

Thus, these two principles throw more light as to how audio in eLearning course can benefit learners’ learning effectiveness.

And, last theory is of cognitive load. An instructional designer, while developing an eLearning course, should know that Learners’ working memory can retain a certain amount of information; it stores auditory information separately from visual information. “Overload” happens if the information presented goes beyond the learner’s mental capacity. Thus, an audio should be used judiciously such that it benefits the learner.

3. What are the factors that influence the use of audio in an eLearning course?

There are certain factors that influence the use of audio in an eLearning course.

  • Nature of subject:for a well-defined process, it can be easily supported with visuals and on-screen text with minimal audio. But, if the subject matter is complex enough, say, complete details of supply chain, then audio is required to balance the content.
  • Course duration: For a shorter course (5 mins), we use minimal audio. On the other hand, for an hour long course, we have to use audio to reduce cognitive load on the learner.
  • Learning environment or system configuration: If you are developing an eLearning course where learners don’t have the necessary equipment, say headphones etc., then, audio will hardly play any role.
  • On-screen elements (animation, interactivities,etc.):While using an animation or interactivity, we keep the audio to the minimum.
  • Cost: Another important factor that decides the preference of audio in an eLearning course. The generally accepted standard is: 10 minutes (minimum audio duration) will cost around USD 250.
  • Accent:If we take a quick look at the preference of the accent, research shows 79% prefer accent free English, 20% prefer American English, while the rest 1% prefer British English.
  • Tone: A majority of the respondents prefer professional tone, while an interestingly low percent of the respondents (from Egypt, Romania, and India) prefer to use an authoritative and firm voice.

So, that’s all for this part of my blog. To summarize, audio has to be a part of the complete picture in an eLearning course. So, you are now in a position to actually judge on what basis you should keep audio for a particular eLearning course: be it principles or the concerned factors.

Anyway, in the next part of the blog, I will discuss on narration and how to write an audio-script together with the Dos and Donts of audio narration.

View Presentation on Effective Use of Audio Narration in E-learning

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