Monday, March 19, 2007

The Auditory Advantage

Patrick Dunn, in his latest rant, Games are not an alternative vision has this to say:

The huge array of tools, techniques and approaches that games producers have developed with the benefit of their consumer-sized budgets are largely available to medium and low-end e-learning producers, if they would just apply their imagination. Here are a few things that I’ve tried in the last couple of years that I’ve pinched directly from my years in front of the Playstation:

  • The use of music to change emotional state; to bypass conscious processing of
    information. Have a look at Lozanov’s research on this.
I'll stop there. The use of music in e-Learning? Hmmm...

I looked at the Lozanov entry on Wikipedia and found some useful nuggets there. But I'm always in search of practical advice. How has this been implemented successfully? Who's really used music in e-Learning to good effect?

I think my resistance to using music in courses may have something to do with the notion of music not being taken seriously in a learning environment. Similar to that whole corporate resistance to games -- excuse me, I meant to say "immersive learning simulations". Because face it -- music, if incorporated poorly, can be so darn cheesy.

Back in the mid- to late-90s when we were designing rich, multimedia courses that were delivered via CD, we used a lot of video (talking head) and audio. Music? Well, I recall browsing our stock music CDs to find just the right music clip to fade up as the narrator/host launched into the course introduction. We might use the same clip as the course faded out to great dramatic effect. But did it actually enhance the learning experience? Don't think so. Of course, we also used sound effects -- ping if the user answered correctly, a deep "egggh" if the user answered incorrectly.... but you never wanted to overuse sound effects for fear of it being labeled as "gratuitous use".

On Learning Circuits site I found an article called The Auditory Advantage written by Lenn Millbower from January 2003. I thought this article gave some useful examples of how one might use music to good effect in an e-Learning program.

But I'd still like to be pointed in the direction of real life examples -- where music is used without being incredibly cheesy.

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