Al Moser trashes voice over PowerPoint in this blog post about using multimedia in eLearning. He feels audio is a weak solution because it reduces knowledge retention, reduces productivity, reduces accessibility, and removes searchability. He concludes by saying recorded VIDEO sucks. (I think he means boring videos suck not all videos). I believe Al is making this about the tool (PowerPoint + audio) when he should be talking about the method and the quality of instruction. The simplest tools, in the hands of an artisan, can make a masterpiece.
On issue one: does audio in e-learning reduce knowledge retention? I turn to Ruth Colvin Clark and Richard Mayer’s book “eLearning and the Science of Instruction.”
Clark and Mayer found that “people learn more deeply from multimedia lessons when words explaining concurrent animations or graphics are presented as speech rather than onscreen text.” They call this the modality effect. The study is not one of reading text from PowerPoint slides but the study included (among several comparisons) an iteration where narration and onscreen text were identical. In short, the researchers recommended the use of spoken rather than printed words in multimedia messages containing graphics with related descriptive words. The animation and narration groups generated between 41 – 114% more solutions than the animation and onscreen text group, evn though both groups received identical animation and words.
On issue two: does audio with eLearning reduce productivity? Al compares the time to read vs. the time to listen. I have to wonder if he’s just measuring ‘seat time’ vs. value. It’s like saying I should only communicate via text message vs. phone call because it’s faster. I’m baffled by this reasoning.
On issue three: does audio reduce accessibility? The point being made here is that a course that is linear in nature does not give the learner opportunities to explore other areas. I think a case can be made for both the value of a linear path and the value of a more learner-controlled environment. If I’m step-by-step fixing the gazillion dollar Hubble telescope, I want a step-by-step tutorial damnit. A job aid. An expert on the other end of the phone. Video. Better. A simulator. I digress.
On issue four: audio removes searchability. I think Al is saying here that ppt to flash courses may not be searchable due to the limitations of the software.
On issue five: Putting boring video on-line doesn’t make it any less boring, it just makes it easier to turn off. I agree!
Perhaps I’m just a match waiting to get lit today but this just doesn’t hit the mark on the use of multimedia in e-learning.
My own experience – once you have been exposed to proper use of multimedia in a course, you want it always and once you design it that way, they’ll always want it.Hats off to the crafters and artisans.