Engaging Courses without Audio/Video

Feb 08, 2011

Is it possible to build engaging courses that don't have audio or video? I'd love to see some good examples. Please share if you can.
15 Replies
Robert Kennedy

Tom & David have previously posted their award winning Lingos course.  It has no audio or video but is very engaging: http://www.articulate.com/community/blogdemo/lingos/ca/player.html.  There are all sorts of examples here in the new forums as well: http://www.articulate.com/community/blogdemo/frog_dissection_demo/player.html.  Also check the e-Learning examples area: http://community.articulate.com/blogs/elearning-examples/default.aspx.

Hope that helps some.

Judith Norton

Somehow I just deleted my post. Let's see if I can recreate it as well as before. We'll never know! :-(

I also ponder the question of audio. If using audio, should it be on every screen? I realize I would not put audio on a self-check type of screen or quiz, but should it be on all other screens? If not, is it confusing to the learner to have audio on some screens and not on others?

I'm in the process of creating a number of courses in English usage. They will all be 8 - 10 minutes in length and be available to employees as 'Just in Time' training modules to be accessed as needed or to fill in times when they have a few free moments. Is audio necessary? Important?

I've viewed some of the courses mentioned above. They are quite good. Even when the course is interesting I find myself clicking ahead. Am I being impatient? Are learners' generally impatient? What does this wonderful collective group of trainers think about this audio / no audio / some audio question.



Simon Perkins

Hi Christy

While I agree that audio in particular (when used properly) can add a whole new dimension to a course, it's not always key.  Sure, there are courses that kind of demand it - or at least become much better as a result.  But I still think getting back to basics and building something that enables learners to get what they want out of it is right up there.   And IMO that comes about from putting the learner in situations where they need to think ... where they can explore ... and where they get feedback that helps them learn from their mistakes/choices/decisions etc.  Hence my preference is to build around scenarios and situations - introduce questions and action prompts that take them on a course of action - and go from there.

I guess it's about setting the scene, building curiosity and then providing a level of self-assessment that rewards throughout (or at least at the end if more appropriate).

EDIT: IMO it's also good to build some momentum once the learner completes the course.  Naturally this depends on the type of course/learning/objectives - but what I'm getting at is helping the learner put their newfound knowledge/ideas/awareness into action as soon as possible and start developing better habits etc, e.g. seek out a departmental project by asking X, Y, Z ...

Personally I think too many courses are thrust upon learners for the sake of getting a tick in the completion column.  The learner doesn't really want to do the course, but they have to.  So they complete it as quickly as they can - get a passable score and forget about it.  At least the boss won't be on my case, they think.  But how much will they remember?  How much will they put into action?  What new habits will they develop?  Usually not much because there's no incentive, no spark, no drive, no motivation, no path, no anything that gets them off their seat and ...

Rant over - I better go now!

Simon Perkins

+1 for Nemo's links.

Some great ideas that should inspire all kinds of visual creativity.  

Sometimes it's actually pretty simply to do these yourself (or inhouse with a colleague) - other times you really need to outsource to a graphic designer/illustrator.  

Not sure what the exact figure is, but IIR something like 70% of people are primarily visual, with auditory and kinaesthetic trailing in behind.  Perhaps that's all the indication we need to make our courses visually appealing.   

Christy King

I love the conversations happening here! Thanks everyone.

Simon - I agree 100%, the trick is getting cultural buy-in to make it happen. If you don't have the infrastructure (in a company) to support application and measurement of knowledge gained, then how can we ensure and validate that learners really learn?

Judith/Phil - the funny thing is, my audio question was more practical than philosophical. We are building courses in English that will eventually need to be translated into a dozen or more other languages. So, the choice not to use audio was based on the cost and work involved to re-record the audio in every lanuage. I am interested in your JIT training modules though Judith. We are also looking to produce something similar for softskills, and we are planning to go with "some audio".

Personally, I see, then hear, and then apply, in that order. The more ways you can engage me, the more likely I am not to open up another browser window, check my email and IM, all while taking an online class.

Nemo - very cool! Thanks

James Brown

Books are an example of materials where no audio is required. Power Point presentations given in person would be another example but when you develop e-learning materials without audio, it's like eating a steak that has not been seasoned. Yes it may look good and taste good, but it would be missing something; spice. Plus it's a proven fact that audio enhances the knowledge transfer to the learner however I guess it also depends on the audience. Special needs people with hearing impairment would rely more on closed captioning as opposed to audio and in this type of scenario audio would in essence play no important role in the learning experience for these individuals. When you ask the question to design materials with audio or no audio, it really has to do with the target audience and will audio enhance the learning experience or will it have little or no effect.

Ray Cole

Here's a biosafety course for biology researchers. There's extremely minimal audio in this course.

My team and I are committed to creating e-learning the jumpstarts learner practice. What we're finding is that the more we move to an e-learning model in which learners are practicing rather than just listening or watching, the less useful voice-over narration becomes.

It can still be useful to occasionally have someone explain something--hence there are a few short videos that quickly explain basic concepts. But overall, this course spends most of its time giving the learner a chance to practice the skills it's teaching, and hardly any time in long voice-driven explanations.