Whenever you are building out an online courses, at some point you are going to have to determine the best method to deliver the content. By default, most people will go with text, but is that always the best option?
Clearly the answer is “no”. Is it the safest option? Yes, absolutely. It is quite easy to hammer out text based bullet points, paragraphs, and lengthy explanations in elearning. People are used to reading all of the time on the internet, so doing the same in elearning only seems natural.
But as you can imagine, effectively conveying critical learning objectives is best accomplished when using a variety of methods.
That said, just using various tools like video and images doesn’t mean that your learning is suddenly better. You have to use them effectively.
For example, there is a ton of learning theory and general guidelines around using videos in elearning. While it may seem like most material is suitable for video, the truth is quite the opposite. Video can be overkill – and it often annoys people when they are forced to watch a video (especially if they are in a time crunch).
Careful consideration must also be taken when using images as well. Simply inserting an image because it “looks nice” may actually be more distracting. When using imagery, make sure that the items you select are a natural fit with the content on the page. It’s also very useful to provide captions.
To make your images a bit more effective, try adding relevant information to them – commonly referred to today as an “infographic”. People love infographics because they often convey key points in a clear, easy to understand manner. It doesn’t take much time to comprehend the message, and in an age of information this is key.
The most important thing of all when using videos, images, and text in your course is to make sure that everything is used consistently throughout. This can include things like colors, size, video length, and text formatting. Creating a style-guide prior to course creation will ensure that you don’t deviate in this area as you build out your course.
So is one media format better than another for online courses? No, not really. The course content will often dictate the best way to present it. However, there is no “one size fits all” approach to course creation, which is why you should look into leveraging all three to ultimately improve learning retention and effectiveness.