Best Practices: Tips for Using Graphics and Audio in E-learning Courses
Online learning has been around long enough that just about every elearning designer is aware that just putting up pages and pages of text is not good instructional design. So we add graphics and audio to our courses.
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But what does science tell us about how to use graphics and audio in elearning courses?
We include graphics in our courses (images, video, animations, Flash) – but do they add value? Or more importantly, do they improve the learning experience?
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According to Ruth’s article, using images and graphics in courses can increase learning by up to 89%. The key is in pairing the right type of image with the content of the course.
Tips for choosing the right images:
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- The image has to be relevant. Choosing decorative graphics that don’t pertain to the course does not enhance learning.
- Don’t add text to the screen if the image is complicated. If you use an animation that shows a six step procedure for using software, don’t add text to the animation. It causes a visual overload and detracts from learning.
- Put images and related text near each other on the screen. If necessary, re-size the image so it can be placed near the text.
- Use a learning agent, if appropriate. A learning agent is a character that gives the learner instructional advice, and can be a person, a character, a cartoon or an avatar. What it is doesn’t matter much – but using a learning agent personalizes the course, and enhances the learning experience.
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Audio is an important element in many elearning courses, and it often enhance learning. However, reading the text that is displayed on the screen actually hurts learning. Audio should be viewed as an additional channel you can use to convey information to learners – giving them another opportunity to process the information you are presenting.
Tips for using audio:
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- Narrate complicated graphics instead of using text to explain the image. On-screen text and images are both processed visually; too much can be overwhelming.
- When you add audio to your course, include a replay button.
- Use a conversational tone and speak in first and second person to enhance learning.
- Choose a few of these tips to use in your next elearning course – or try retrofitting a course you have already implemented.
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