How to use sound to better effect


Most elearning consists of visual elements – text, graphics, pictures - but audio is a powerful dimension that can enhance or distract from your elearning. Don’t forget that part of your learning audience may be auditory learners, and they learn most effectively from listening to your content. This is also important for your learners who are visually impaired.


Here are a few tips on the kinds of audio you might use, and how best to use them.

1. Music

Music is best kept to a short piece at the beginning and end of your elearning. An elearning course with full background music on at all times can be distracting, especially if there is already narration in other parts of the content. However, if your elearning has little or no voiceover, a piece of music can keep the learner engaged while they read.

2. Sound FX

If you are creating a piece of elearning that is fun and casual, sound effects are a great way to add realism and/or humour to your course. Most commonly, we use dings and buzzers to quickly communicate correct and incorrect feedback in knowledge checks and quizzes.


If you are creating a scenario, sound effects can be used to enhance the impression of the scene you’re trying to set. Will your learner be near a forest? an ocean? a street? a crowd? Background sounds are great at communicating these scenes without a lot of words.

3. Voiceover or narration

One thing that comes up often is how long an elearning turns out to be when you’ve added voiceover. Once you have written the script for your audio, try timing how long it takes you to say the words on one screen. You might be surprised at how long that will take compared to how long it looks on the page. There are also free online resources you can paste your script into that will estimate how long the voiceover would be.


Don’t forget that if you are adding audio to make your elearning AODA compliant, any and all text on screen and behind click throughs will also have to be recorded and added to your elearning runtime.


Now consider your total. This is the amount of time you need to keep your learner engaged. Are there enough graphics or other visual elements happening during this time? Perhaps you will need to break up the script into several shorter screens, or simplify your content further.


With these simple points in mind, you can create elearning that stays fresh, interesting and fun with well-placed audio!

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