Text, audio, animations... oh my!

I'm looking for some opinions, please:

  • How much text on a slide is too much?  What about if you also have audio (ie narration)?
  • When using audio on slides, how much is too much?  to little?
  • If you are listening to audio on a slide, do you need animations to keep you engaged, ie does a static background disengage the learner?
  • What impact do any of the above have on learner engagement?  learner retention?  knowledge transfer?

I'm asking these questions, as I'm looking to take my team's online design to the next level and want to do it the right way.

Any, and all, opinions are appreciated!

8 Replies
Christina Atamian

Ottilia,

To your last question...What impact do any of the above have on learner engagement?  learner retention?  knowledge transfer?

A TON! Great question. There have been some studies done around Cognitive Load Theory and eLearning...all dealing with text, narration, and animation...and acheiving the right mix for the learner to retain the information.  Defintiely worth googling!  See my rules of thumb below:

  • How much text on a slide is too much?  What about if you also have audio (ie narration)? Less text on screen is best. Save if for key points. Use your full text for slide notes and narration.
  • When using audio on slides, how much is too much?  to little? I like to keep my narration under 1 minute per slide...easier to record for the non-professional narrator and easier to animate and synch to.
  • If you are listening to audio on a slide, do you need animations to keep you engaged, ie does a static background disengage the learner? Yes. Definitely keep animations going throughout. Use entrance and Exit animations to keep it from being static and lose the learners interest.
  • I hope this helps

    Christina

    Kristen Hull

    If you have some time to do a bit of reading, I suggest this book:

    http://www.amazon.com/-Learning-Science-Instruction-Guidelines-Multimedia/dp/0470874309/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1317140450&sr=1-1

    It addresses all the questions you are answering (and it is an easy read).  The third edition just came out in August!

    Sam Currie

    I agree with Christina, in terms of text on screen, less is ALWAYS more, the brain finds it very difficult to read and listen at the same time, think of any hideous "bullet point heavy" PPT presentations you have ever had to endure and you'll know what I mean.

    I highly recommend Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds his PPT slide design is always striking. You definitley need movement to retain engagement, so try to include frequent changes in graphics/animations too.

    Good luck, it's such a fascinating area to work in

    David Steffek

    Television newscasts are another good frame of reference (I think). They are teaching you the events of the day, and they have a narrator but very little text. The on screen text is usually just the headline or subject of the current story, with a picture/graphic relevant to the story and only a smattering of bullets to highlight key details (like Christina mentioned above).

    And add another +1 for Garr Reynolds.

    How much audio per slide? I think you need to factor in all of the slide contents and not just the audio. Slide duration should be determined more by the ability of the content (both audio and visual) to hold the learner's attention. No, you probably won't have many slides that last more than a minute or two, but neither should feel that you need to break up a slide simply because of a standardized duration. If a slide can hold a learners attention for three minutes, then that slide works. For me, before breaking a slide up I deliberately consider whether doing so (and thus forcing the learner to click the Next/Advance button in the middle of my teaching point) will effectively serve the content or if it will be disruptive to the delivery.

    Are animations necessary during narration? Yes, but only if the animation is relevant to the content and serves a purpose beyond simply having animation. Animation without relevance can be distracting and counter-productive. Again, think back to the TV news. For most stories, they just show a slide show of photos/video clips that are relevant to the story being read. So perhaps simply showing a new picture to highlight each point in the narration would be enough. Animations/transitions should always serve the content and not just themselves.

    So in short, keep it relevant to the topic and ensure that everything you do serves the content.

    KM Gilley

    I recommend:

    e-Learning and the Science of Instruction: Proven Guidelines for Consumers and Designers of Multimedia Learning

    By Ruth Clark and Richard Mayer

    They performed studies that answer such questions.  One finding I think that gets overlooked is the effect on retention when screen text and narration are identical, as opposed to bullet points and a full narration script.

    Eric Nalian

    I have found that using graphics with text will do two things: first, eliminate bulleted lists and second, help display the content in a more creative, easier to remember way.

    I am currently working on a course for Fair Housing, and the slide has a picture of a cop with a speech bubble that has some of the text summarized, after the narration of the first block of text in the speech bubble is said, the text in the bubble will change and the original text that was in there moves to the bottom left corner.

     P.S. Articulate Community - Thanks for the graphics!!

    louane rodrigues

    1)    You need to keep any information on a slidepresentation to a minimum. Clear cut sentences and straight to the pointsolutions is what should be included in a slide presentation.

    2)  Animations always add an extra something to yourpresentation. If you are going all out and adding audio then, you can go just afew steps ahead and create an animation as well.

    3)  When any presentation is fun and visuallyattractive it automatically grasps the learners’ attention, making theexperience a whole lot better. The learner automatically gets engrossed intothe course because it constantly makes them wonder, “what’s coming next?”.