The eLearning Network conference in Birmingham was a great chance to see what others in the field of Content Development are up to and to see some examples of the work they produce.
Many use high end tools and charge high end prices to match, but few have as solid, as usable and as cost-effective a resource as Adapt Builder.
Audio can now be embedded in your e-learning modules and ourselves here in the Content Development team – have been using audio to greater and greater effect.
The third speaker at the eLearning Network event was Viv Cole, another director of the eLearning Network and another who runs his own e-learning consultanc
Often mistaken for a woman owing to his name, Viv is ‘proud to have once been ranked the 19th best female UK chess player in the UK and continues to be on the lookout for entertaining typos’.
He spoke at length about the use of audio in e-learning. Can it be a vital component in truly effective e-learning design? If so, what makes good use or bad use of it and why and when should you use it at all?
Viv started off his session by asking the group – primarily made up of Instructional Designers of varying experience – what experiences they had had of audio use in e-learning.
Of the good experiences, many remarked that use of audio had brought the on-screen content to life, adding another dimension to what was being visually received. It can also make the learning more authentic if real-life voiceovers are used.
Indeed it doesn’t even have to be a voice at all – many of the delegates agreed that good use of sound effects can have just as positive an impact in the right context.
On the other hand, however, delegates agreed that bad examples of audio use tended to be when it merely repeated what was on the screen already.
Everyone reads and digests information at different paces and it is necessarily difficult, therefore, to get the audio to the correct tempo to suit all needs. Having audio standardises how long it takes to complete each slide.
In some cases this might be desirable but it takes away the freedom and control of the learner to work at their own pace. Often too, the tone or the accent of the voice isn’t in keeping with the context of the module and this can undermine what the learning is trying to achieve.
One of the great luminaries of contemporary e-learning design, Cathy Moore, contends that:
So using audio really depends on who your learners are, what you are trying to achieve and how you want your learners to achieve it.
Viv Cole went on to demonstrate some of the science behind using audio as a learning tool. Studies have shown that the first thing and the last thing that you hear are what stick in the memory longest, so it is important to bear this in mind when integrating the use of audio into a module.
The context of what you hear is also important – how it associates itself with your other senses.
If you hear an important message alongside a strong visual, then it is far more likely to remain with you. The YouTube clip of Vinnie Jones in the previous blog is a good example of this.
Finally, Viv wrapped things up with eight tips for effective use of audio in e-learning. In the spirit of both the eLearning Network and Learning Pool ethos of sharing and pooling ideas, we’ve listed these for you below:
While there is no single recipe for success, these are all factors you should bear in mind before you decide whether to use audio and how to use it. But don’t take it from me – take it from a Chess Grand Master like Viv Cole.
Eoin has been working in our frantically busy content department as Content Production Manager since 2010.
His role straddles both our custom content and catalogue operations and involves scoping out potential new projects as they come in and then once work is won, managing that project alongside the customer from inception through to delivery of the final product.
In overseeing a large portfolio of bespoke e-learning modules as well as ongoing production and maintenance work on our huge off-the-shelf offering, no two days are ever the same for Eoin.
Outside of work, Eoin enjoys not thinking about e-learning content as much as possible and instead channels his energies into discovering and listening to new music, preferably in County Donegal. Or that’s the theory. In reality, he watches a lot of CBeebies.
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