The power of audio may often be overlooked, but the combination of written and spoken words does have a big impact on recall and retention. To bring audio into your course with Trainersoft simply means dropping the clip onto the screen and setting its controls. The hard part is determining where to use audio, and knowing how much is too much. Audio, just like other media files, requires good bandwidth if you're producing a Web-based program. This screen from Trainersoft 7 shows the media controls you can set when incorporating audio into your program.
A paper by Rachel Ellis and Mark Childs, published in the Journal of Educational Media in 1999, discussed the The Broadnet Project, which was a study on the effectiveness of video as a learning tool in online multimedia modules. Their conclusions and recommendations based on the analysis of comments and perceptions of the trainees and the producers were:
- Use video stories to put the subject into its context of use.
- Use video clips followed by questions to encourage active participation from trainees and build on existing knowledge.
- Ensure that these clips have the information required to answer the questions.
- Limit the length of talking head video clips and use them to elaborate on specific points.
Building interactivity into the experience was also discussed. Having optional endings for scenes that the student can select based on the training they have had so far begins to incorporate some of the gaming aspects we discussed earlier. Students could go through portions of learning material, then begin a video story that they control through selecting actions that create a scenario. Their choices would be graded based on the correct actions.
For example, going back to our human resources manager example, the interview session could include three different choices for questions. When the student makes a selection, the video then plays out that scenario. They could progress until they chose incorrectly and had to face the consequences.
By relating to characters on the screen and being able to control their "destinies," students can learn from mistakes that would be too costly to make in the real world.
Trainersoft supports streaming media, which allows the student to see the video (or hear the audio) immediately. Rather than waiting for the complete file to download, the student hears it as it is "streamed" to his or her computer. This only applies to Web or intranet-based training. There are, however, hybrid possibilities that could include links to the Internet for streaming media or other training media. This might be beneficial if that portion of the training is likely to change and need updates frequently. By putting that portion of the training on the Web, updating the files is easier than recreating and distributing new CD-ROMs.
On the next page, we'll talk about using animation in your e-learning course.