Online learning: Audio or text?

Jose Dutra de Oliveira Neto, Wenhao David Huang, Nádia Cristina de Azevedo Melli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Implementing online technologies alone cannot ensure learning. A verified approach is needed to optimize the pedagogical effect of online learning. Previous studies have suggested that the application of the modality principle in multimedia design improves the efficiency of learning by reducing cognitive load. Nevertheless, this design approach has not generated sufficient empirical support in environments where learner-control is essential. Furthermore, there is lacking empirical effort to situate the effect of modality principle on adult learners in online education in Brazil, which sustains a literature gap in understanding multimedia learning in various international contexts. Therefore, this experiment investigated the influence of the modality principle on test performance and perceived cognitive load among students enrolled in a Brazilian technical education course on database management. Responses were obtained from 91 participants [18–51 years old; 46 in the audio group (AG) and 45 in the text group (TG)]. After receiving a short, self-paced multimedia lesson in a computer lab, it was found that participants in the AG, regardless of self-paced learning, responded more efficiently to the transfer test than those in the TG; and participants in the TG perceived a higher cognitive load than those in the AG. The study concluded that learner control and modality effects can coexist in multimedia learning and the modality principle might benefit online learning design in Brazilian technical education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)555-573
Number of pages19
JournalEducational Technology Research and Development
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 28 2015


  • Cognitive load
  • Modality principle
  • Online technical education
  • Self-paced multimedia learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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