Audio Use in E-Learning: What, Why, When, and How?

Oct. 01, 2008

Source: International Journal on ELearning, Volume 7, Issue 4, October 2008
(Reviewed by The Portal Team)

Decisions related to the implementation of audio in e-learning are perplexing for many instructional designers, and deciphering theory and principles related to audio use can be difficult for practitioners. Yet, as bandwidth on the Internet increases, digital audio is becoming more common in online courses. This article provides a review of relevant literature and the results of a survey conducted with instructional designers to determine their thought processes as they designed e-Learning courseware with audio components.

Research Questions

1 . What forms of audio do instructional designers choose to implement?
2 . Why do instructional designers incorporate audio into e-Learning courses?
3 . When do instructional designers choose to implement audio?
4 . How do instructional designers implement audio?


The study began with a convenience sample of 23 practicing instructional designers, each of whom completed the survey. Twenty two of the respondents claimed to use audio to varying degrees when designing multimedia lessons. The one respondent who did not incorporate audio was dropped from the study.


In their 2003 review of audio use in e-Learning programs, Barron and Calandra (2003) found that practice reflected theory. The results of the investigation reported in this article again showed that, in most cases, practice again reflected. theory. Why then did respondents report that theory was not a large influential factor in their decision making process regarding audio?

The authors suggest two approaches to answering this question. The first would be to do a more in-depth qualitative investigation of designers and their workplaces to describe in richer detail what drives design choices regarding audio in multimedia instruction. This study would also require a thorough description of the designers themselves and include contextual factors such as experience, education, availability of resources, and so forth. The second approach would be a follow-up review of current eLearning software on the market to assess how technological advances (between 2003 and now) have affected audio implementation, and why.

Barron, A.E., & Calandra, B. (2003). The use of audio in multimedia learning: Theory and practice. Journal of Interactive Instruction Development, 16(1), 25-34.

Updated: Dec. 01, 2008