4 Tips To Apply The Redundancy Principle In eLearning

4 Tips To Apply The Redundancy Principle In eLearning
Summary: A number of different studies have revealed that the human mind does not have the capacity to truly multi-task. This means that eLearning professionals who pair verbatim text with audio and visual presentations in hopes of improving comprehension may, in fact, be hindering knowledge absorption. In this article, I will share 4 tips on how to use the Redundancy Principle in eLearning, and I’ll highlight some eLearning exceptions to the Redundancy Principle.

How To Apply The Redundancy Principle In eLearning

The Redundancy Principle suggests that learners have difficulty focusing on the key takeaways of the eLearning course when multimedia presentations are accompanied by a word for word text script. In short, they are so busy trying to read, listen, and watch the images at the same time that they are unable to collect the information they need from any of the sources. As an unfortunate result, learning goals may not be achieved and cognitive overload is likely to occur. On the other hand, eLearning courses that pair audio with visuals or text with visuals are more effective, as learners are not forced to choose how they will receive the information.

When The Redundancy Principle Is Recommended

There are some instances, however, that the Redundancy Principle may not be applicable. Here are some of the most common exceptions to the redundancy rule:

  1. The online presentation lacks visual imagery.
    When the online presentation contains no images, graphics, or diagrams, there can be both audio and text on the screen. This is primarily due to the fact that online learners will not be forced to choose between the visuals or the text.
  2. Leaners have ample time to absorb the eLearning content.
    If learners have plenty of time to absorb the information that is being presented on the screen, then it is acceptable to include both text and audio narration. Just make sure that they have a gap between screens to effectively absorb the information.
  3. Localized eLearning courses or hard of hearing audiences.
    In case some learners are unable to physically hear the narration or cannot understand the language, it is best to pair verbatim text with audio. This rule can also apply to eLearning courses wherein the narrator may be difficult to understand.

4 Tips For Applying The Redundancy Principle In eLearning

  1. Give your online learners control over the audio and text.
    Rather than deciding for your online learners, why not give them control over whether they listen to the audio or read the text. Include captions that can be turned on or off, as well as audio that can be muted. This is also ideal for mobile learners who need to be able to adjust the volume of the eLearning course when they are in public spaces, such as crowded break rooms. There are times when slipping on a pair of headphones simply isn’t an option, and opting for text over audio may be the best bet.
  2. Use text to highlight the key points.
    Text and audio can go hand in hand, if used properly. Rather than repeating the audio verbatim, you can use text to simply highlight the key points of the eLearning course. This draws your learners’ attention to the core concepts and ideas, without overwhelming them with too much information. When you do this, the text becomes a support tool for the audio instead of conflicting with it. There is also another way to integrate text with audio, which is offering your audience helpful tips that are not mentioned in the narration. Just make sure that you offer these tips after the audio has ended or include “in between” screens that give them a chance to read the tips without having to focus on the audio component.
  3. Omit navigation instructions from your audio.
    The navigation icons are already on the screen. Therefore, you do not need to repeat them in the audio narration. There is a caveat to this, however. Your navigation icons or buttons should be clearly visible on the screen so that your online learners don’t have to search for them after the audio has ended. There is nothing more frustrating than wanting to move onto the next page of the eLearning course, only to discover that you can’t find the navigation button amid all of the images and text. If you aren’t including any text on the screen and are steering clear of navigation icons, then you probably should bend the rule a bit by verbally explaining how your learners should proceed. With that being said, keep in mind that this may exclude your on-the-go learners who have the audio muted.
  4. Create two versions to cater for different learning needs.
    Some online learners prefer reading their way through an eLearning course while others may enjoy listening to the eLearning content. You also have online learners who are more visual, by nature, and need images and graphics to immerse themselves in the eLearning experience. For this very reason, you may want to consider creating at least two different versions of the eLearning course to cater for different learning needs. This doesn’t have to involve a total redesign. In fact, you can simply include a static image in your audio-based eLearning course so that they devote their full attention to listening. You do have to make sure, however, that your learners can pick and choose whichever version best suits their needs, and that you don’t create an eLearning course that limits accessibility for those who have special learning needs or disabilities.

While repetition can help your learners commit information to long-term memory, redundancy can have the opposite effect. Use these 4 Redundancy Principle tips to create memorable eLearning courses that boost knowledge retention, rather than overwhelming your learners' mental processes.

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