Audio and Online Learning.

Cathy Moore has created a (partially) narrated presentation highlighting some of the points that Kulhmann has made in regard to the use of Audio enhanced presentations for online learners.

They both make valuable points; I know that I am definitely someone who reads ahead of the presenter. I think there are infact two things that we have to consider.

  1. Effective use of presentational tools when there is a face to face audience.
  2. Effective use of presentational tools when the audience is at a distance.

There are some overlaps – the points that both raise about the fact that most audience members read ahead, while the presenter is discussing particular points. So, Kulhmann’s example of the way cells work for mobile phones is good. That’s something that it’s quite hard to get over in text – an animation makes it much easier to understand. I know that I’m guilty of poor powerpoint usage. I often use the bullet points – and then expand on them. Finding relevant images / animations isn’t easy. There is also the thought that students want to have the notes [aka key points] of the lecture for reference/ to catch up etc. (Indeed, I have just requested a set of slides for a lecture that I missed). Should the Powerpoint slides really serve as a summary of the lecture, or should they be something else – to trigger the imagination – to get students to start to create ideas or whatever.

The point, however, that both raise about the fact that most people read faster than they can listen doesn’t apply in the same way in a face to face setting. You can’t fast forward the lecturer though you can, in most cases, press the “pause” button to request further clarification – something that isn’t as easy in an online (asynchronous) lecture.

Online students have slightly different needs. They can’t use the “pause” feature of a live lecture – but they also have (assuming it’s given to them) the option to fast forward. Both Moore and Kulhmann point out the difficulties of not allowing that option.

Equally, as several of their commenters have noted, there are accessibility requirements that mean that just audio with out the transcript isn’t appropriate (nor, for that matter, should text without audio be appropriate. Not everyone finds reading easy).

I’m not sure that I know what the answer is, I do know, however, that they have given some really good examples of using audio effectively, and it’s something that I need to really look at.

Via: Stephen Downes