Connecting dots for digital learning and teaching

Designing Mobile Courses with Audio Narration Set to Autoplay


(This is the 9th article of the series of learning design tips from dominKnow KnowledgeBase)

It’s very common in elearning courses to have narration automatically play when the learner advances to the next screen.

On an Apple mobile device using iOS such as the iPad, the iPhone or iPod Touch, Apple does not let its Safari browser automatically play audio or video files.

On this page in their Safari HTML5 Audio and Video Guide they state, “In Safari on iOS (for all devices, including iPad), where the user may be on a cellular network and be charged per data unit, preload and autoplay are disabled. No data is loaded until the user initiates it.”

Many other mobile devices prevent autoplay too.

With Claro, we have been able to work-around this to some extent. Audio set as narration to Autoplay will auto play except on the first page or any jump page (page jumped to using Page Link or the Menu).

See the article Why won’t my mobile iOS device autoplay audio or video? for more specific information about the Claro solution.

audio player controlConsider the design of your mobile pages to accommodate this mobile device restriction and Claro’s solution.

You can use Page Timing Actions on your first page to show a title and subtitle (for example) after a few seconds and then auto-advance to the next page after a few more seconds. Audio can be set to Autoplay on this first page for users on non-mobile devices, if you want, but make sure it is not critical audio, since most mobile devices disable it. Once the page auto-advances to the second page, Claro enables auto play.

You will want to consider design carefully when you use Page Links. An alternate method of playing audio must be used on any jump pages that normally have audio set to Autoplay.

Try designing pages that have the learner initiating actions to play the audio content, such as using audio as examples to listen to or having audio provide feedback based on decisions the learner is making on the page. Ultimately, these types of approaches provide a better learning experience overall, drawing the learner into the learning process rather than setting them up as passive receivers of information. These are good design strategies to consider whether the narration auto plays or not.

It is also good design and usability practice to allow the user control of the audio playback controls. This allows them to pause, move forward or back, and replay the audio.

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“Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I will understand.” -------- Chinese Wisdom "Games are the most elevated form of investigation." -------- Albert Einstein
"I'm calling for investments in educational technology that will help create digital tutors that are as effective as personal tutors, educational software as compelling as the best video game," President Barack Obama said while touring a tech-focused Boston school (year 2011).
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