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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Bad Course on Instructional Design

I just posted about eLearning Design and Development Training Course listing two examples of courses that talked about instructional design for eLearning. Whoops. I should have looked more closely.

The course from MyUdutu (
may talk about it, but it is a classic example of what not to do in eLearning. So while it talks about Instructional Design - it hardly is something to review.

As Chris pointed out in a comment and I talked about in Audio Narration vs. On-Screen Text
you should never have voice-over that's the same as the text on the page. That's just annoying and slows you down.

Other bad aspects included having choppy narration (people are not very forgiving around narration and other audio). Further, there was no audio control to let you know what's going on with the audio.

Later in the course, they used narration much better with a graphic. Still, this probably should not have been a course to point people to. Oh good, it looks like other suggestions are coming in.


V Yonkers said...

By the way, I know the people at RPI (the other "good" example), and they do a great job in many formats.

Clark said...

Tony, I looked at the other post you made about having text read. Clark & Mayer are concerned about audio when there're dynamic things happening. I too used to believe that not having text read was preferable (yes, read faster than they talk), but a company I worked with said that half the people preferred it. Literacy's not as widespread as you think, for one, some folks are auditory, etc. But you do need controls to turn it off.

Yes, I think the course isn't particular great (too much text somehow).
See Clive Shepherd's 30 [60] minute master's as an alternative; more applied.

Anonymous said...

I'm not so sure about never having text when there is voice. What about hearing impaired learners? If they can't hear what your saying and you don't include text, then your leaving them out. I try to leave at least a set of important points so that they can be read. You also have to take into account technical difficulties, what if your audio doesn't load properly? I see your point, but I think that there may be exceptions.

Tony Karrer said...

Jay - you are definitely right that in many cases you have to account for text delivery instead of voice-over. And, I've done dual presentation before when it was an audience where English was a second (or third) language.

However, your course needs to make sure that it allows the text to be turned on/off - not on always. Try running that one course. See if the audio isn't so annoying that you find yourself just turning it off? Of course, there's one page where you need it back on.

Scott Mooney said...

I wanted to ask a question about your comment: "you should never have voice-over that's the same as the text on the page. That's just annoying and slows you down."

From what I know about Cognitive Load Theory having multiple inputs with varying information could very well make it impossible for some students to learn. Also, when dealing with students of different learning styles, the visual learners will benefit more from the on-screen text while the auditory learners would benefit more from the audio narration.

I am interested in hearing why you implied that you should have different audio vs. on-screen text. Students, especially those whose learning abilities are not mature enough to focus on either the text or the audio, would most likely be turned off as their mental capacity would be overloaded.

Many thanks-

Scott Mooney

Tony Karrer said...

Scott - the research I've read indicates that fully duplicate is not good. Small text fragments that reinforce the key message on-screen along with narration is good. You are absolutely right that a large amount of different text on-screen will be hard for people to process. Overload is definitely an issue.

I'm afraid I'm not familiar on students "whose learning abilities are not mature enough to focus on either the text or the audio" - the research I've read has mostly been focused on college and/or adult audiences.

Probably the best analogy here is what makes an effective presentation using PowerPoint. You want a very small text item and/or an image that emphasizes the main point. Reading the text from the slide is bad. As is having too much text that is different.

Of course, now we could discuss whether PowerPoint is inherently evil. :)

Anonymous said...

Since we are talking about audio, I am an ID currently researching ways to include interactivity in training that is delivered in an all audio format. I was able to come up with some information, but I am struggling to find anything useful. Anyone have any suggestions or ideas on where a good place to find this info may be? Anything would be helpful at this point!

Tony Karrer said...

Can you email me the links you have so far:

and I can post the question.

Thea said...

Actually, recent research has shown that is it desirable to have an exact copy of the voice over on-screen as well. It is beneficial for hearing impaired users, users that might not have their speakers on and from a usability perspective as well, because some learners are visual and prefer all text on screen. Text on screen also allows the user to re-read the information and therefore absorb more of it, after the audio has finished playing. For e-learning, the best solution is to have a segmented, user driven presentation, with voice over, and full text on screen.