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Multimedia + eLearning = Effective eLearning

Face it, (hold your breath here) … eLearning can be BORING! There, it’s out in the open. Are you ok?  “It’s too long and dull,” “there’s too much reading,” “I just don’t have time,” come the cries of frustrated learners. We’ve all been there, right? But what if you had some tools to use that could pique your learner’s interest and use some “learning science” at the same time? I’m talking about using elements of multimedia to make your eLearning more engaging AND effective (magic wand not required).

Drs. Ruth Clark and Richard Mayer have studied multimedia learning for more than 20 years and in that time they’ve learned a thing or two. They discovered that text and graphics (we’re talking drawings, charts, motion graphics and even video) make a very nice couple.

Here’s how:

Forget using just a bunch of words or text on the screen. You know what we’re talking about. Read the page, click next. Read the page, click next. [Yawn] It’s brutal. It’s WAY more effective to add graphics to go with that text.

BUT, and there’s always a but, there are some rules (there are always rules):

  1. Make sure the graphics you use actually go with the text. Don’t add a cute puppy or some emoji just because it’s funny – unless you’re being ironic, because who doesn’t love a bit of irony? 🙂
  2. Also, add the graphics near the text. And by near we mean up close and personal. The graphics need to be close to what you are talking about otherwise what’s the point of using them? We’ll, give you a hint: it’s pointless.

Want to really step up your multimedia game? Add audio to help explain topics that are more complex or that have multiple steps.

Now, before you grab your microphone and flash cards hold up for just a minute: don’t just have a narrator read the text verbatim as it appears on the screen. That can actually limit the effectiveness for the learner, and there’s an actual medical explanation for the eyes glazed over and brain shut down that may occur. See: “death by PowerPoint, also filed under BORED.”

So there you go. There really is some “science” involved when developing your eLearning content. What do you think? We’d love to hear from you. How do you use multimedia in your eLearning?

Want to see a really cool example of all this in action?

**(Want a good read on multimedia learning? Check out Clark and Mayer’s E-Learning and the Science of Instruction: Proven Guidelines for Consumers and Designers of Multimedia Learning.)

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