If you remember, in the previous part of this blog, I have discussed how we define audio in an eLearning context, the theoretical framework that governs the use of audio and factors that influence the use of audio in an eLearning course. So, by now, we can answer the following questions related to audio such as What is an audio and Why audio. The next big thing is How: How much audio should be there; How to choose a narrator; How an eLearning course gets its audio.
How Much Audio?
This is from an excerpt of Cathy Moore, “Do we really need narration?”, where she states that new studies suggest better results when the learner has control on the text.
According to recommendations in books like ‘eLearning and the Science of Instruction’, we shouldn’t narrate text that’s displayed on the screen. It also states that redundancy might affect the learner’s ability to digest as to what is given on-screen.
In case of very short lessons, which are no more than 20 minutes in duration, the learners find it hard to control the pacing. In those situations, it’s better to use narration rather than text to explain a graphic.
But, what happens if a course is of longer duration, say an hour or more? For such a big lesson use minimal audio as it might increase the loading time and bandwidth. It also increases the cognitive load on the learner.
Audio Decisions: Who should narrate?
There are three types of narration used in a eLearning course. It includes the machine voice, in-house narration or the professional voice.
For a machine voice, the advantage is: It is less expensive, easy and quick.
The disadvantage is: It might sound robotic and fake. Yet another major disadvantage is the machine voice offers uniform voicing, and thus it lacks the personal touch.
For an in-house recording, the advantage is: It is less expensive than a professional recording and adds personal touch as it does not appear too robotic.
The disadvantage is: It results in lower quality with background noises and inconsistent style.
A professional narrator is one who does it as his primary job, understands the content, does it in a studio and modulates his voice according to the requirement.
The advantage of professional voice is: It provides a high quality audio and the desired tone, pitch and adds a personal touch.
The disadvantage is : It is more expensive (you need to pay-per-minute/ on the basis of number of words).
Audio Decisions: How to choose a narrator?
It all starts with listening to audio samples. For an eLearning course, the following three factors are to be borne in mind while choosing a narrator. Select a voice that:
- Keeps your audience engaging
- Speaks naturally with fluency
- Fits the subject matter.
How an eLearning course gets its audio?
The instructional designer prepares the script and sends it to the client for approval of the script. Then, the script is sent it to the narrator for recording. The narrator records it in the studio and sends it back to the course developer, and the course developer incorporates the audio in the eLearning course.
Dos and Don’ts of Audio Strategy:
- Explain animations using audio
- Maintain uniform audio pitch throughout the course
- Audio should be in a conversational tone
- Use more than one audio character
The Don’ts are:
- Do not use audio for animations which already have text descriptions
- Do not use audio throughout the course
- Do not use audio in assessments and feedbacks
Thus, with this, we have covered the whole concept of audio narration in an eLearning course.
To summarize, for any eLearning course, it very important to determine how much narration should be there, what is the best practice for recording and how to choose the correct narrator. Lastly, there are also some Do’s and Don’ts which must be kept in mind.