4 Tips For Selecting eLearning Media Assets
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eLearning Media Assets: How Can You Use Video And Audio To Enhance Knowledge Transfer

Visual and audio media can play an integral role in the learning process. When used appropriately, they can help motivate audiences, deliver content faster than text or speech, help learners comprehend and retain information, and trigger emotions. However, poor media choices can be distracting or potentially off-putting to target audiences, thereby frustrating the learning process.

The next time you conduct front-end analysis for an eLearning development project, consider adding the following tips to your project plan. These tasks will help you use visuals and other media more effectively in your eLearning assets.

Tip 1: Define The Style

If you have a style guide available, study it for guidelines on visual messaging and treatments. If a style guide is not available, discuss the following with your stakeholders:

  • What overall “look and feel” are you envisioning for this project? How does this impact visuals, audio, and writing style?
  • What is your preference for visuals: authentic or stock imagery?
  • What audio needs can be defined regarding gender, language, accents, and frequency?
  • What is your opinion on photos and images with certain body language (e.g., crossed arms, pointing, facial expressions)?
  • What guidelines should be followed for concept images, 3D art, and vector design icons?
  • What are your thoughts on blur, lens flares, and other effects?
  • What wardrobe, style, and appearance guidelines should be followed?
  • What additional considerations should be noted (e.g., diversity, legal requirements)?

Tip 2: Reflect Your Demographic

What do you know about the target audience for this training? Take the time to record what you know, what you want to find out, and how these findings may impact the media assets you select. As a baseline, you’ll want to consider the target audience’s:

  • Age range
  • Profession
  • Disabilities (See 3 Ways To Help Online Learners With Disabilities)
  • Language and culture (Note: If the course is in English but a version will be translated/delivered in another language, consider this in your image choices.)

Tip 3: Consider Your Content

In addition to defining style guidelines and reflecting your audience, you should also consider the content when selecting eLearning media assets. Ideally, eLearning creates a realistic representation of how the learners will apply the content in their work or, if applicable, their personal lives. To do this, use imagery that reflects the learners’ environment. Reflecting reality as closely as possible helps learners visualize how they will apply new skills after the course is completed, which aids in learning transfer.

Another consideration is to avoid images that make your eLearning appear outdated. Examples include images with noticeably outdated fashion trends, mobile devices and technology, automobiles, and furniture.

Personal preference certainly plays a factor in the selection of eLearning media assets. While the considerations above apply to all projects, I also recommend the following guidelines, as well, with the caveat that these reflect my opinions:

  • Use infographics to chunk complex content into more manageable bites.
  • Rely primarily on text to convey content; images should be used to support, but not present in full, the message. This practice ensures learners who use screen readers can grasp the full meaning without having to rely on vision.
  • Avoid both cheesy and overly cliché images (e.g., using a target with arrows to show course objectives).

Tip 4: Engage Quality Assurance

Most learning assets go through some type of Quality Assurance (QA) process. However, QA specialists and editors typically focus on grammar and instructional integrity first, with visuals receiving attention only if there is a glaring issue or if they contradict a provided style guide. On your next project, consider asking your QA resource to provide feedback on visuals, as well. For instance, you could ask them to respond to this checklist:

  • Does the eLearning reflect a consistent style throughout?
  • How closely do the media assets reflect the needs and environment of the target learning audience?
  • Do any of the images make the eLearning appear outdated, cheesy, or cliché?
  • Are any of the media assets distracting?
  • Do the infographics, if applicable, succeed in presenting complex content in an easy-to-understand way?
  • Can learners who use screen readers access all content without relying on visuals?

The next time you storyboard or produce eLearning, consider incorporating the four tips above into your development process. Remember that media assets like photos, illustrations, icons, audio, and overall layout can impact and enhance how well learners comprehend, retain, and apply new knowledge, skills and abilities after they complete the eLearning course.

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