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Best practices for adding audio to eLearning

Best practices for adding audio to eLearning

Dec 7, 2021

Adding audio to eLearning—like ambient noise, narration, or sound effects—can enhance the learning experience, give context, or support learners. Using audio efficiently and abusing it is a delicate line. Audio may be annoying, overbearing, or cause information loss if abused. For example, playing loud music during a compliance training may distract from the topic.

The key to using audio successfully is determining its worth. Don't worry if deciding whether or not to utilize audio seems daunting at first. Six factors let you rapidly assess if audio is right for your course.

What Kind of Course Are You Making?

Consider the sort of project you're working on. You can rapidly determine what form of audio—if any—best matches the circumstance by evaluating the context of what you're developing.

Let's look at some specific instances to demonstrate this:

Software simulation

  • • Sound effects that play when learners complete certain actions.

  • • It could provide learners with a sense of satisfaction.

Gamified course

  • • Subtle background music.

  • • It could create a fun atmosphere.

Course on communication

  • • Audio clips of conversations.

  • • It could help make the content feel more realistic.

Technical training

  • • Voice-over narration.

  • • It could reduce on-screen text and make complex topics easier to understand.

Compliance course

  • • Background music.

  • • It could distract from the main course content.

Anti-harassment training

  • • Sound effects that play when learners complete certain actions.

  • • It could clash with the tone of the course topic.

Task simulation

  • • Voice-over narration.

  • • It could distract learners from what’s on screen and make it difficult for them to perform the simulation.

The Timing of Audio Use

Just because you think a particular sort of music may benefit your course doesn't imply you should utilize it throughout the project. In most circumstances, less is more when it comes to audio in e-learning. If you want to be sure that audio doesn't interfere with learning, don't use it when students need to concentrate.

Background music that plays during a project, for example, is rarely a suitable match since it tends to distract learners from absorbing the information. However, using background music on the first slide to create the tone for the course would be a good idea. It shouldn't detract from the learning experience because here isn't usually where learners are digesting critical information.

Your Learners' Audio Control Requirements

Even if the device your learners are using to take the course has system volume settings, it's helpful to provide them the ability to alter the course volume separately if you wish to incorporate audio. You'll also want to make sure your course has controls that allow students to rewind or replay audio if they need to go over something again. This allows students to customize their learning experience to meet their own requirements.

It's preferable to avoid integrating audio if your course can't or won't contain these controls.

The Internet Connection Speed of Your Students

Although many of us have fast internet, not all students have! Adding huge audio files to a project might cause a course to load slowly, especially for students who are using a sluggish or intermittent internet connection.

If you think your students will be in rural locations or in areas where internet rates are slower, limit the quantity of audio you use and the file size of each clip. You may want to reduce or eliminate the usage of audio to reduce the time it takes to start or progress through the course, which might frustrate or lead learners to tune out.

The Learning Environment of Your Students

This one may seem obvious, but it's often overlooked: consider the environment in which learners will be taking the course. Audio isn't a suitable match for learners who will be accessing the course on a noisy job site or with clients because it will be difficult for them to hear it.

If you know your students will be taking the course in a calm, controlled setting with access to speakers or a headset, audio may be a better alternative.

Learners Require Accessibility Features

Many of the topics we've already mentioned are connected to accessibility, such as having suitable controls in place, but there's another factor to consider to guarantee that all learners, regardless of ability, can benefit from the course content: written versions of your audio content.

To ensure that no one is left out, if you incorporate audio (or video! ), you should also add closed captions and a transcript. Learners with permanent impairments, such as hearing loss, and situational limitations, such as those completing the course in a noisy cafe, benefit from captions and transcripts. It's absolutely not something you'll want to miss!