7 Tips To Choose The Right Music For eLearning
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Say It With A Song: How To Choose The Right Music For eLearning

The right choice of music for eLearning can immerse your online learners and create the perfect eLearning conditions. The wrong choice can distract them from the key ideas and diminish the benefits of your eLearning course. In other words, selecting the best music for your eLearning experience should be a top priority. The ideal soundtrack has the capacity to transport them to new worlds and foster an emotional connection, which leads to improve knowledge retention. Here are 7 top tips to help you say it with a song.

1. Don't clutter your eLearning course with background tracks.

The short-term memory is finite, meaning that there’s only a limited amount of space to store new information. You want your online learners to remember the key takeaways, not the melody to the song playing in the background. For this reason, you should keep background tracks to a minimum, especially in sections of your eLearning course that contain need-to-know information. Background audio clutter can also overwhelm your online learners and lead to cognitive overload by drawing attention away from the subject matter.

2. Stick to one audio component.

Avoid combining audio elements, such as music, audio narration, and sound effects. It’s perfectly acceptable to use one component at a time, but mixing them together can create a chaotic and potentially stressful eLearning environment. Also, make sure that your audio narrations match what’s on the screen. For example, an audio narration that conflicts with the text on the screen will only confuse online learners, best case scenario. Worst case, they would absorb the incorrect information or start blurring concepts and ideas.

3. Determine the tone of your eLearning course beforehand.

The main purpose for using music in eLearning is to set the mood. But before you can create the perfect emotional ambiance, you have to determine what emotions you want to trigger. What tone do you want to convey, and does the music you have chosen fit into the big picture? For example, a country music ballad that’s a tear jerker probably isn’t the best bet for a professional eLearning course. Likewise, a toned-down classical masterpiece may not be a good choice when you’re trying to energize your online learners. Ambient music is usually a top pick because it can evoke a wide range of emotions, depending on the track, and is made to blend into the background.

4. Use music to guide your online learners.

Music is one of the best ways to guide your online learners without even knowing it. Movie soundtracks make us feel the suspense, anguish, terror, and euphoria that the eLearning characters are feeling. The same rule applies to music in eLearning. It can tell your online learners that they need to pay close attention to this part of the eLearning course, or make them feel more immersed in an eLearning scenario or simulation. When the eLearning course goes quiet they know it’s time for reflection or analysis, and when the music returns it’s time to focus on the task and let the music whisk them away. You can even include more lively or attention-grabbing music when presenting the key takeaways to make them standout.

5. When in doubt…leave lyrics out.

There are times when lyrics may be necessary. For example, mnemonic melodies can help online learners remember key dates or terms. They can also serve as great background tracks for interactive eLearning stories and simulations that don’t involve a high level of concentration. However, if there is any doubt in your mind that the lyrics may distract online learners, just leave it out. Lyrical tracks should never be paired with eLearning narrations, as it tends to overwhelm your audience and muddle the subject matter. It goes without saying that music must be profanity-free in order to reflect the professionalism of your brand. Also, if you are planning on localizing eLearning, lyrics can pose a big problem, unless you choose to have them translated as well.

6. Always consider the background of your audience.

Whether you are using ambient music, lyrical tracks, or sound effects, it’s always important to think about the background of your audience. Will the music be offensive in any way? Are they going to find it relevant and entertaining or off-putting? Conduct eLearning audience research to figure out what music is suitable and appeals to their interests, as well as which audio elements might make them disengage from the eLearning process. Consider their age, cultural background, previous experience, and personality traits when creating your eLearning soundtrack. Surveys, focus groups, and questionnaires are great research tools that can help you learn more about your audience's tastes and preferences.

7. Opt for royalty free audio elements.

This is one of the most common pitfalls of setting an eLearning course to music. If you want to avoid copyright issues, you need to look for audio tracks that are royalty free. There are a variety of free sites that feature high quality audio. In most cases you simply need to provide a credit or attribution that mentions the source. There are also sites that offer audio for a fee, but you typically won’t have to credit the creator. Be sure to examine the terms and conditions carefully so that you avoid legal issues later on.

The most important aspect of choosing the right music for your eLearning course is thinking about how it fits into the grand scheme of things. Are you including music just to steer clear of silence and enhance the appeal of your eLearning course? Is there a purpose for every track, sound effect, and audio element?

The right music for eLearning creates an emotional connection with every member of your audience, as much as a perfect eLearning script. Read the article 7 Best Practices For Writing Perfect eLearning Scripts to discover the best practices for crafting the perfect eLearning script for your eLearning course.

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