Audio visual aids is a term that comes up frequently within the education, training and marketing sectors. The term is self-explanatory: aids that utilize both audio and visual mediums. However audio visual aids are so much more than these eight words.
So, what’s the in-depth definition of audio visual aids?
- Why do people use them in the first place?
- What are their practical applications?
- And do they really serve their intended purpose?
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This post was updated on March 2021
What are audio visual aids?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines audio visual aids as “designed to aid in learning or teaching by making use of both hearing and sight.”
The Dictionary.com definition is “training or educational materials directed at both the sense of hearing and the sense of sight; films, recordings, photographs, etc., used in classroom instruction, library collections, or the like.”
The Instructional Technology course offered by ecoursesonline describes them as “instructional devices which are used to communicate messages more effectively through sound and visuals.”
From the definitions, we can surmise that audio visual aids are devices or materials that tap into both the hearing (or auditory) sense and sight (or visual) sense. Their purpose is to provide instruction, education or communication.
Audio visual aids may take the form of a:
- Powerpoint presentation in support of a verbal lecture
- Video clip with voice over, and moving or still images
- Interactive whiteboard
- Projected images in support of verbal dialogue
- A graphic, chart or written material in support of verbal dialogue
- An interactive PDF with videos, text and voiceover
Why bother with them?
Because, in a nutshell, we are all different. Mind-blowing, I know!
It is probably no surprise to anyone that people learn, process and retain information differently. Some people are audio learners, and respond to information presented in auditory form – that is by hearing information. Others are visual learners and respond better to information presented via their visual sense – that is by seeing. And then there are kinesthetic learners. These are people that learn best through touch and movement – that is they learn by doing. By presenting material using audio visual aids, you are tapping into at least two types of learning styles.
Furthermore, a study on Visual, Audio, and Kinesthetic Effects on Memory Retention and Recall by Udomon, Xiong, Berns, Best, and Vike (2013) revealed that retention and recall of information is significantly improved when two or more senses are engaged in learning the information. Information presented in both audio and visual formats is more likely to be retained than information presented either way alone.
Interestingly, you can further improve retention by encouraging note-taking while listening to and viewing the audio visual information. The act of writing taps into the kinesthetic style of learning.
Another study by Rasul, Bukhsh, and Batool in 2011 looked at how educators and students perceived the use of audio visual aids in the classroom. The results of this study indicated that both educators and students viewed these aids as:
- Playing an important role in the classroom
- Effective in conveying information
- Providers of knowledge in depth and detail
- Positive to the classroom environment
- Motivators for engaged learning
How do people use audio visual aids?
As alluded to previously, audio visual aids are most commonly used for the purposes of instruction, education, and communication. Let’s look at these settings more closely.
For the purposes of this article, instruction will incorporate the teaching of a specific skill, skill set or procedure. Education, on the other hand, will have the broader inclusion of educational facilities such as schools, colleges, and universities.
Once upon a time, the world was quite a large place and technology was a lot more limited. Many people learned skills because it was in their circle of experience. If your father was a baker, you’d probably learn about baking. If your mother was an artist, you’d probably learn about painting. People could and did extend their skill sets outside their immediate circle. However, this would still involve immersing themselves in a new industry. It may have also involved a new geographical location. As such, broadening your skill set was a huge undertaking.
Today, people are able to access instruction in different skills, skill sets and procedures easier than ever before. Rather than having to move their entire lives and families to pursue a new course of action, there are a plethora of accessible options available. People can purchase or borrow a DVD, or subscribe to online video content. They can participate in online tutorials or courses, and view short instructional how-tos at the click of a button.
Audio visual aids allow specific instruction to people who may otherwise not have the opportunity to access such resources. For example, a remote writer can learn about setting up a blog via a step-by-step online video produced by an experienced blogger. This is infinitely more accessible than driving, flying and attending a face-to-face workshop in the closest city.
Utilizing audio visual aids allows the instructor to guide the consumer through a process step-by-step. Services such as BunnyStudio can help develop material to be used in such guides. It can feel as intimate as having someone standing next to you, or as distant as a lecture in a huge hall.
Audio visual aids in a classroom setting are two-fold. There is the obvious scenario as outlined about, whereby using them can provide a virtual classroom of sorts. This would be the case for open-access education and external study (in which you can access course content online). There is also in-house use of audio visual aids, in which the educator uses these aids in a face-to-face environment.
In the case of open-access and external study, educators use teleconferencing to set-up a virtual classroom. Visual presentation of material (either written, images or video) may accompany an audio recording. This expands on or summarises the visual content.
Within the face-to-face educational setting, educators use audio visual aids to supplement their teaching. They may take the form of an interactive whiteboard. An educator can pull up supporting visual material to match their audio instruction. Projectors and written or graphic presentations can also be used as a reference point. This helps guide the lecture and also highlights key points that are critical for the consumer to attend to.
In the classroom setting, in particular, audio visual aids need not be dependent on technology. Sometimes, drawing a picture or graph is enough to support the intended message. It may also involve showing an image from a book to explain what words alone cannot. All of these methods help engage students with the material.
The main form of communication in the hearing community is via auditory means. However, people still rely significantly on visual cues to help communicate or understand a message. Any support to either the audio or visual aspects of communication is considered using audio visual aids.
An example of this in action at a population-wide level is at pedestrian crossings. In this situation, there is a sound (different tempo beeps) and visual cue (a red or green person). These aids indicate when it is safe to cross the road. Emergency situations also provide an example of these aids in action. In this scenario, flashing lights and sirens or bells communicate danger or warning.
At a more intricate level, those with communication difficulties use specific audio visual aids. Examples in this context are:
- A picture board that supports unclear verbal language
- An electronic device that offers text-to-audio conversion
- Sign language
And of course, there is the marketing industry. Audio visual aids are used to communicate a clear message about a particular product, brand, business or event. They can take the form of television commercials, online ads, and stadium billboards. More discussion on using youtube, an online audio visual platform, for advertising can be found here.
So what are the benefits of audio visual aids again?
We’ve looked in-depth at the reasons people use audio visual aids and the situations they use them in. But to summarise, the benefits are:
- Increased retention and recall of information (compared to uni-modal presentation of information)
- Increased depth and detail of information conveyed
- Engagement and motivation
- Increased clarity of communication
- An effective marketing strategy
What about the disadvantages? Are there any?
Using audio visual aids seems obvious for those wanting to share their message in an engaging and effective way. However, there are some disadvantages to using this strategy.
Some educators or presenters may perceive that using these aids is a substitute for quality of teaching – they are not. They are simply a supplement to quality teaching and instruction, not a substitute.
Technological failings or difficulties impact those audio visual aids that rely heavily on technology. This renders them ineffectual and may result in loss of time or money to address the difficulties. It may also damage the brand or reputation of your business.
Some forms can be expensive, especially in the case of television, and therefore out of reach for many producers. Also, the quality can impact how engaged consumers are with the material.
And finally, some consumers may tune-out of either the audio or visual material in lieu of the other. In doing so, they may miss important or critical information that the educator or instructor assumes has been clearly presented. A discussion on why some advertising has to go above and beyond to have an impact on the consumer can be found here.
Audio visual aids – are they good, bad or memorable for you?
Audio visual aids allow people to tap into both hearing and sight senses when sharing a message, information or knowledge. The likelihood of the retention and recall of information increases through the engagement of both the auditory and visual systems. In fact, the more sensory systems engaged, the better the learning outcomes.
Students and consumers generally find these aids help them engage with material better, and provides motivation for learning. They also allow information to be conveyed with greater depth and detail.
There can be some barriers to using audio visual aids. These include technological difficulties, cost, quality, and over-stimulation. However, audio visual aids have allowed increased access to education, upskilling and information across the globe.
Audio visual aids are the way to go if getting clear, memorable content across to your audience is a priority for you. Get in touch with us to create a project that will help you connect with your audience!