Too often we forget the impact good audio has on learners. Indeed, some say finding background music that suits all tastes may seem difficult; however, sounds can aid information delivery and increase knowledge retention–regardless of…sophisticated ones musical tastes. For example, you cannot argue with this great sci-fi outer space ambience.  

While there are several consideration when integrating sounds, here are a couple big ones. Just for fun, we added some links to throughout.

  1. Enhance – Audio and visual effects should work in concert. Actions, text, and photos should all set the stage for sound-effect supplements.
  2. Contextualize – The audience relevancy should drive how much audio to use. For instance, someone in sales or customer service might be more responsive to audio recordings or voiceovers. On the other hand, someone primarily focused on data entry, might responded better to ambient background music. You can also key into generations or office culture like this great 80′s Nintendo example.
  3. Quality – Distorted audio will do more harm than good. Just think about how displeasing feeling you associate with fuzzy radio stations. Make sure to use filters or low levels of audio compressions. Paying a little extra for higher-quality sounds and professional recording equipment will pay major dividends on learning outcomes.
  4. File Size – While quality is paramount, ensuring quick load times is equally critical. Depending on the device, LMS, and connections–internet, external drives–you will need to consider how quickly files can load. This is a delicate balancing act with audio quality.
  5. Tone – This will help set the mood and generate organizational cultural relevancy. For example, an eLearning course on emergency procedures shouldn’t have sleepy-time audio. In the same regard, voice-overs need to be spoken in a similar dialect and, when appropriate, incorporate office colloquialisms.
  6. Playback – Incorporating general audio controls can greatly increase the user experience. This lets the learner move their own pace and rewind, fast forward as needed. This is especially good with voice-overs.
  7. Real People – Actors that are clearly unfamiliar with the material can jeopardize knowledge transfer. Whenever possible, use key icons from the organization, which might include the president, CEO, or organization mascots–assuming they talk.
  8. Accessibility – Whenever using audio, it’s important to consider a range of abilities. This might include adding closed-captioning, frequency ranges, or even volume levels.

Taken together, the above hopes to set the underpinnings of good audio use.

What are some others? Let’s collect them all!