Audio narration plays an important role in eLearning. It is a helpful means of learning for all auditory learners. But, today, many of the eLearning courses have audio narration limited to the introduction and summary slides. In a few cases, we use narration to explain on-screen instructions.
The Modality Principle states that learners can learn better from animations and narration than only from animation sand on-screen text. And, according to the Redundancy Principle, learners learn better from animations and narration than from animation, narration and on-screen text.
There are many aspects to be considered while you plan for audio narration for your eLearning course. They are:
- What should be the accent of the audio narration?
- What should be the tone of the audio narration?
- Who should narrate?
- What are the general recommendations?
Let’s look at each aspect in detail.
Some interesting statistics regarding the accent and tone of audio narration were collected in CommLab India’s research – The realities of cross-cultural eLearning.
Accent of the audio narration
79% of companies preferred their audio narration to be accent free. 20% of the companies preferred American English and only 1% of the companies preferred audio narration in British accent.
Tone of the audio narration
55% of the companies preferred their audio narration to be professional (not too formal or informal). 42% of the companies preferred an informal tone and 3% of the companies preferred an authoritative, teacher-like tone.
Choice of the narrator
You can either use a software or a narrator to narrate your course. The “human narrator” could be a member of your staff or a professional narrator.
Let us now look at the pros and cons of each.
“Software narrators” may be less expensive and easy to work with, but they sound robotic, fake and lack a personal touch.
In-house narrators (staff members) may be less expensive than a professional narrator and also establish a personal connection with audience. But, they are not professionally trained. Many a time, companies may not have appropriate infrastructure. In such cases, it is always difficult to get time commitments.
Professional narrators provide high quality narration with the desired tone and pitch, and they add a personal touch to the narration. On the flip side, they are more expensive.
So, choosing a right narrator is very important.
- Audio control should be left completely to the learner (switching it off and on).
- Do not narrate the text that is displayed on the screen as it increases the cognitive load.
- Explain animations using audio. But, do not use audio to explain animations which have text descriptions.
- For short lessons on graphic less than twenty minutes we can use narrations rather than text.
- For lessons spanning more than an hour, use minimal audio.
- Ask your narrator to vary the audio pitch according to the content and narrate in a conversational tone.
These are some of the important aspects to be considered while planning the audio narration of your eLearning course.