Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Harnessing Sound in Multimedia Based Learning

There are many technical parameters that one has to consider while recording and editing voice, songs, music, and other sound effects.  Here, we are going to look at "sound" from the usability of content, manageability of cognitive overload, and effectiveness of learning.  Since these aspects are closely related, we are listing our suggestions together.  We are not going to discuss much about sound setting and configuration. 

Sound in eLearning is just one component of the overall content in multimedia-based learning.  There are many other components of multimedia: text, graphics, animation, short videos, etc.  Therefore, "sound" has to work well with the other components of multimedia in a way that human learning experience is enhanced.  From our project experience and knowledge, we have the following suggestions on how sound can be used effectively. 
1.     The presence or absence of sound of whatever type can aid or obstruct the learning process. 
2.     The accent of the narrator, diction, intonation, pace of delivery, and background noise can affect learning. 
3.     In certain situations, background music will have high amplitude that affects the ability to listen to the voice narration due to which the narration cannot be easily deciphered.  Generally (not always), the narration carries the key subject matter information or instruction to do some activity.  The presence of simultaneous loud background music or sound effect with voice narration can obstruct learners from easily comprehending the narrated information.
4.     Managing cognitive overload and planning for it in the instructional design stage is important. 
5.     An over loaded cognitive channel (Auditory or Visual) and temporary memory will cause confusion, irritation, and boredom among learners. 
6.     Narration scripts should be in short sentences, active voice and without double negatives, and conjunctions.  This principle also applies to writing on-screen-text (OST) that one reads.  Voiceovers that adhere to this principle create a comfort feeling during the learning process.  This is because, all active thinking and processing happens in the temporary memory and it has very limited capacity.  Processing of smaller chunks of information is easy. 
7.     Appropriate narration pauses between the sentences, key chunks of information, and each step of activity are necessary to allow learners to learn at their pace by concentrating and comfortably grasping new knowledge. 
8.     In some cases, animations or graphics with voice narration should not automatically change to the next scene unless the learner has sufficient time to reflect on the animation, graphic, and text presented in the scene.  Therefore, the timing of switching to the next scene should be based on whether the average learners would have sufficient time to comprehend the multimedia content or not.  The best solution in such a situation is to leave the control to the learners.  The learners can click on something relevant at their own pace to switch to the next scene. 

-         VIVEK PADUBIDRI,  Click to know what we do.
       About the author: Vivek is a hands-on instructional designer and heads 4C-Learning Solutions which is now in the thirteenth year of providing interactive design & development solutions in eLearning. Vivek has nearly two decades of experience in managing Design & Delivery functions in the Education industry.


  1. Most of the so-called eLearning companies do not consider these points during the development. But in the current scenario, everybody wants a quick fix to convert the existing ILT to webinars or eLearning. If one considers all the points mentioned above, it involves some additional time which in turn increase the cost to the development. How do we handle this?

  2. It depends on how you look at cost. Ineffective learning will continue to result in performance problems from employees. This cost of poor performance for the organization is much higher than the incremental cost of designing an effective learning solution.

    In most cases though, designing effective learning solutions need not cost more. It just requires the discipline, attention to the details, and the necessary skills to design it well.

  3. The use of latest technology has enhanced the nature of teaching and learning. eLearning is a great platform to share quizzes and to post assignments. I also like eLearning Inside as a elearning news, the platform for independent learning.

  4. There are many technical parameters that one has to consider while recording and editing voice, songs, music, and other sound effects. In the rating of Premieressay you will find a lot of these parameters and will have a chance to compare them. In some cases, animations or graphics with voice narration should not automatically change to the next scene unless the learner has sufficient time to reflect on the animation, graphic, and text presented in the scene.

  5. You have chosen a very interesting topic for discussion. The use of sound in Multimedia Based Learning is very useful in this era because it provides better learning and understanding environment to the students. If you are interested to know more about Teacher Management Software Usa, visit


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