Great e-learning content is created through high quality visual and instructional design of the modules — but don’t discount the important role that audio design plays. Audio design is the process of recording, developing, or producing audio elements that suit the material being communicated. It includes voiceover, music and sound effects which are either specially recorded, created digitally, or edited.
Audible sounds are integral to the way we make sense of the world and our surroundings. That’s why it’s so important to build them into interactive learning experiences as well.
How does sound design enhance learning delivery?
Audio design can add a layer of information to the scene — share additional data, convey a mood or bring out an emotion — through intelligent soundscapes. Try watching a horror movie on mute to really understand the value that sound can add to a gripping visual! Without the music building to a crescendo, the scenes can fall flat.
Things to keep in mind during audio design
It’s important to remember that in all likelihood, your learners will access your content on regular laptops or mobile devices. Invariably, speakers of these devices are designed to cut low frequencies down and boost mid-high frequencies. During audio design, therefore, make sure to listen to your tunes through simpler speakers, so that you understand how it sounds on the devices you are really designing for.
Allow your users to control the audio by increasing and decreasing volume. They should, ideally, even be allowed to mute the audio if they wish, as they may be learning on the go. This is possible if the audio is paired with suitable subtitles.
Getting narration right
When you’re developing your e-learning video modules, a recorded narration can simulate the presence of an instructor. This narration voiceover however must be used effectively to maximize the value it adds to the content.
Your narration script should go beyond simply narrating the text on the screen. Instead, highlight a few key points on screen and use the voiceover to explain the subject in detail.
Hit the right tone
The approachability of the course can depend on the content of the script as well as its tone and voice. Avoid overuse of jargon and use a pleasant voice with an accent that is universally understandable.
Work with voiceover artists
We recommend using a professional voiceover artist for your narration — and, for that matter, for your descriptions, instructions, and any songs or other audio that is being recorded. This makes your e-learning course as a whole deliver a more professional experience.
Other audio elements
Immersive background music
Light background music behind the main narration or during any other training can act as “white noise”, cutting out other distractions and helping the user focus. In addition, when there is a period of time during which the user has to perform another action, such as make a choice or move to the next module, silence can be disconcerting. Background music fills this space.
Notifications and alerts
Messages from the LMS to the user should be accompanied by a notification sound. Any action made by the user can also generate an audible reaction of some kind. This can be through a sound — a small beep or click sound — upon actions such as a click on a menu option or an answer to a question, in order to tell the learner that their action has been recorded.
Congratulate and commiserate with learners through appropriate sound effects. Correct answers on assessments can be acknowledged with applause, while wrong answers could trigger an ‘oops’ sound, for example. The immediate and familiar feedback helps reduce test anxiety for some learners.
Animation and sound effects
When you’re using animation to enhance learning, the graphics can be accompanied by suitable sound effects. A thought bubble appearing in time with a pop sound. A waterfall with the sound of gushing water. The squeaks of the chain as a child swings. This increases the involvement of the learner and adds to the professionalism of your learning experience.
Many developers of e-learning content miss out on the value of good audio design. As one of the key senses engaged in digital learning, however, it’s not something that can be ignored! Integrating visual, audio and other elements to bring out the best in the learning material is the essence of instructional design.
To learn more about how to build audio to your e-learning module to elevate learning experiences, contact our instructional design experts at Hornbill FX today.