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We’ve all had one of those teachers or instruction designers who just doesn’t fully grasp the concept of good presentation. Either they place neon orange text on a green background, or they grossly overuse the “Flip” animation, leaving you to watch an endless cascade of letters tumble their way on screen before any kind of point is made.

But perhaps the worst eLearning presentation sin of all is to violate the redundancy principle. The redundancy principle comes from Richard E. Mayer’s seminal Multimedia Learning and states that “people learn better from graphics and narration than from graphics, narration and on-screen text.”

This is true for a few different reasons, the first being that not everyone reads at the same pace. If text is placed on the screen, we will reflexively read it. It’s almost involuntary. So if a narrator chimes in and repeats verbatim exactly what we’re reading, we have to make a decision. Do you ignore the voice and just read? Do you speed up or slow down your own reading to match the speed of the narration? Do you close your eyes and listen to the speaker? Or do you just give up and fall to pieces, weeping on the floor while everyone points and laughs about what a weakling you are?

It’s nightmarish scenarios like this that can easily be avoided by simply removing the unnecessary text from the screen altogether and having your narrator talk about the images that are on-screen.

This is not to say that text on-screen is a complete no-no. A caption or brief definition can work well alongside narration. But be sure that the text is supplemental information that wasn’t covered by the narrator, or at the very most, a rephrasing of what the narrator said.

When the learner’s eyes and ears are forced to compete for the information, there is no winner, so do them a favor and allow the senses to cooperate by using the redundancy principle in your eLearning.


12 Principles of Multimedia Series, #3

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#1 - Trimming the Fat for More Coherent eLearning

Next: #4 – Reduce the Weak Links in Your eLearning: Part 1

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