The Rapid Elearning Blog

multimedia for e-learning

We’ve looked at understanding the customer’s perspective, how to jump start you project, what you should know about designing a course, how to build a project plan, and working with your subject matter experts.

Today’s rapid e-learning tools make creating e-learning courses so much easier. It’s possible to build good e-learning courses with a limited understanding of the technology. However, you can really leverage the rapid e-learning tool’s capabilities and make more engaging content if you have a basic understanding of the multimedia technology.

In this post, we’ll take a quick peek at graphic, audio, and video technology. I’ve also included some additional resources and links to free software.

What Should I Know About Graphics

When using images in your rapid e-learning courses you want to maintain the best quality possible. A lot of this has to do with the image formats. The challenge is to understand the various formats and what’s best for your project.

This article from Wikipedia does a great job explaining image formats and their differences.


vector versus bitmap and raster images

Typically, you’ll find the best success if you can stick with vector-based images because they scale better. Here’s a good post that explains more about images in e-learning.

In addition to understanding how the formats work, it is worth having a good graphics editing program to help you with your rapid e-learning development. It allows you to manipulate and customize images, as well as convert and save to various formats.

What Should I Know About Audio?

Good audio quality is a combination of equipment, location, and talent. You need to begin with the best audio quality because you cannot increase it over the original.


The microphone you use affects the quality of your audio. There are many resources online to teach you about microphones. The main thing to understand is that microphones are not the same and how they record audio is different. Take some time to learn the basics of microphone technology. It’ll help you get the best results when you record narration. I also recommend visiting a community forum to ask others what mics they use and how they record their narration.

Ideally, you get to record your audio in a controlled environment like a studio. However, this is usually not the case. Many times you’re forced to record the narration in a conference room with limited control over the ambient sound like office chatter, copying machines, and air conditioning. In this case, make do with what you can. Turn off the air conditioner. Unplug office machines. Ask people to be quiet. Before I record, I like to stick my head out the door and tell everyone to “shut your stinkin’ traps.” This way they know something serious is going on.

The quality of your narration is important to your e-learning course. If you choose to go with non-professional talent, expect that you’ll get what I like to call “presentation quality” audio. The advantage to this approach is that you can produce it quickly and at a good cost. For many projects, this is fine. However, you get what you pay for.

If you find that you want a polished sound, you might want to budget for professional narration. While it appears to cost more than going with non-professional narrators, you can save a lot by avoiding time-consuming edits and audio retakes.

What Should I Know About Video

Rapid e-learning’s popularity means that there is an increase in the demand for video. It is important to have a basic understanding of the different video formats, frame rates, streaming, and how to get the best quality for web delivery.


PC Magazine has a good article on using video in PowerPoint. A lot of the information is relevant to rapid e-learning.

Video quality is like audio. You are not going to get better video than the video you start with. It’s important to learn some basics about creating good quality video. Videomaker magazine is a good resource for non-expert video making. They have good tips and techniques and they write to those of us who don’t create videos for a living. It’s a great place to start.

As the rapid e-learning tools evolve, you’ll need to have good end-to-end skills. You don’t need to to be an expert at everything; however you do need to understand the basics. Learn more about multimedia and built a good network of resources to help you when you need it.

Additional resources

Here is a list of some additional resources.

Our last post answers the question of what to do when you’re through.


Free E-Learning Resources

Want to learn more? Check out these articles and free resources in the community.

Here’s a great job board for e-learning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly e-learning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool e-learning examples to check out and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This e-learning 101 series and the free e-books will help.

34 responses to “Understanding Multimedia For Rapid E-Learning”

Another good resource that you should add to the list are free or creative commons licensed images. For free or nearly free images I like stock.xchg ( and you can find creative commons licensed images in lots of places like


Good suggestions. I’ll add that to the list. I’ll make a resource page with more links on it. Keep ’em coming.

August 14th, 2007

Another great software tool for editing audio files is WavePad (and also SoundPad by the same company). They offer a free trial version which you can continue to use. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of the Master edition – but it’s great for what I need it to do. It’s also very easy to use. (

Wrap it all together and run in my favorite rapid (and option-rich!) development resource:


Gary: I hadn’t heard of WavePad. I’ll check it out.

Ellen: We used Moodle in school. It’s nice. Have you heard of Dokeos? I was looking at that a few months ago for a personal project. I liked it a little better than moodle. Of course, moodle has a rich user community. A lot of times that’s more important than the software.

Which Rapid learning tool is best to develop the elearning courseware?

Parvez, that’s a good question. I think that the answer is that the tool that meets your need is the best tool. As I state in my ebook, I prefer Articulate’s studio. I think that it is the best overall suite of tools. The key isn’t to just go purchase software. Instead it’s to collect the tools that work best for your needs and budget.

August 21st, 2007

I often use ‘Waveflow’ for audio recording and editing. It also provides file conversion to MP3 and other formats.

When I record audio at my home computer, I usually create a little audio “booth” by propping a thick blanket up and over me. The results are near perfect.

Doesn’t that hurt your neck after a while?

I’ve seen people create simple frames out of PVC pipe and drape blankets over them to dampen the sound.


My desk has a high back board that perfect for securing one side of the “booth.” I place a chair next to my desk chair and drape the other side of the blanket over the backs of both chairs. The blanket never touches me.

That makes sense. I had this mental picture of this big heavy blanket sitting on your shoulders and draped over your head like a hooded sweatshirt on steroids.

The examples of e-learning are really great! I also, like the recommended books. It’s nice to see other examples, because you get bored with your own stuff. I’m an Instructional Design Development Consultant. Most of my clients allow me to decide the look and feel of e-learning courses. Graphics are interesting. I’d like to try this. I read some correspondence on Don Clark’s site. He mentioned using graphics to engage learners for e-learning. Perhaps, I could sample this in my next assignment.

My Videomaker website has endless amounts of information in the learn section. we also have over 3000 articles.

Hello everyone!

What do you think of those Text-to-Speech software programmes? They turn text into WAV or MP3 files. They sound a bit robot-like and artificial, but it might do well in a language course.

I’ve seen a few. They’ve come a long way. I’ve heard some that actually sound OK….not too tinny or robotic. I think mangolanguages uses a tool like that. You might email them and ask.

Thanks a lot for your answer! I’ve been away from your nice blog for a while. Now I’ve started to search for some TTS freeware, but so far I haven’t found anything worth its while.

When it comes to design an online language course, where all communicative skills are equally important, the task of finding suitable listening material – and insert it in the LMS – is really hard and slow. So, any suggestions will be welcome!


Hello Everyone!

I’m a language teacher and recently I’ve become interested in e-learning. I’ve checked the net for some solutions and what seems to be suitable to me is Dokeos. But I know very little about e-learning solutions.
I’d be really grateful to read you opinion about it. Do you think that it – including the virtual classroom/conference service – could be an effective tool for virtual language courses?
Does anyone have any experience in using Dokeos for such purpose?
Thank you in advance.

@Peter: You’ll probably get more responses at a Dokeos forum. We have some Dokeos users in the Articulate community forums. If you haven’t settled on a product go to There are a lot of demo LMS type products on the site. Hope that helps.

What is the best microphone for e-Learning? I prefer using a head-set. Any suggestions?

Jeremy: I’ve used headset mics in the past. Last year I bought a desk top mic. The sound quality is much better and now I use it exclusively.

Here’s a link to the mics I’ve used. I like the Plantonic, but love the Samson.

Years ago, I read some research suggesting that it is instructionally unsound for audio to match the text on the screen word for word. Does anyone have experience to share?

Hi Vic,
it’s true… people listen and read in different pace. So, if you have the audio text all written in a screen, people will feel uncomfortable after some time, since they read faster then listen to the audio.

There’s also personal differences, what makes very difficult to know in which pace peple will be reading the text…

A good solution is offer a button to turn off the sound. I think it’s specially important for e-learning, since people often take the courses in labs, at the workplace, or in a public library, and might not be able to listen to the audio.

Excellent post. So often, people overlook the quality of your microphone and recording environment!

Thank you I look at all of the site .And I think the one that I like is the Paint net and maybe the microsoft site. This is not easy for me to evaluete if I dont have the program to work with it. In Art is not so easy to get a program that I can make a lesson and give a class. Iam looking over everything you sent me and I am haveing a geart deal of information .Thank you

Hi Tom,

I am having trouble finding a download link for MS Movie Maker on the Microsoft web site. I find lots of information about all the great things one can do with the software, but not one link to down load it to my PC. I have Windows XP, SP2.

Just a thought; I use Firefox browser..would that cause any problems?

Any help is much appreciated.


@Kathy: try to use the IE Tabs add-on for Firefox. Then add Microsoft sites to it. I made a quick screencast for you.

[…] Oct Check out the post on Understanding Multimedia for Rapid E-Learning.  While it’s about elearning, the core information is the […]

[…] Wikipedia has a good article on graphic formats.  You can also learn more at the Rapid E-Learning Blog on the Rapid E-Learning 101 series. […]

February 8th, 2010

Dear sir,

I have come across a website which successfully deployed e-learning technologies to teach maths. I like to know what technologies have been used to create such content. If cannot figure it out, can you suggest some alternative technologies thatv can be used.
SBS Reddy, India

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