Listening is something that we do constantly; we hear sounds of different kinds. Some we hear and some we listen. When we listen, we pay attention and most probably we always remember what we listen. This same principle is applied in eLearning. It’s up to you to make your learners listen to your course rather than just hear it.
This is where audio comes into play, every eLearning course is divided into two categories: (i) a course that has audio and (ii) a course that doesn’t have audio. Audio in an eLearning course is mainly aimed at the auditory learner, but there is more to than this to consider while using audio in eLearning courses. Following are a few standards that need to be followed for creating effective audio for an eLearning course.
As an Instructional Strategy:
When choosing to use audio in your eLearning course, make sure there is an instructional objective behind it. Let it not be just to add an extra feature that makes your course attractive. For instance, if your course is about a process or software, audio can be used to highlight the steps of the process with appropriate imagery or animation. When it comes to software, audio is best used for simulations telling the learner about its specific features. Lastly audio as a strategy can be used when your course uses an avatar or characters. This is where audio is used as character voices in your eLearning course.
Degree of Audio to be used:
Too much of something can kill you; in the same way using too much audio can destroy your eLearning course. If your audio reads the exact words on screen, then your audio may slow down your learners pace. Word-to-word narration must generally be avoided as it makes your course monotonous and doesn’t let your learners explore the onscreen content. In most instances, audio is used either as a paraphrase that summarizes your onscreen content or as a description to the image or illustration onscreen. Audio can also be used to list out the important points of the slide that the learner needs to know. Such type of audio brings about a perfect balance and destroys audio over kill.
Narration is by far the most important aspect in the audio context. The narration style sets the tone for your course. It’s also the part of your instructional strategy where you decide the tone to be used (active or passive). For instance, using conversational style in narrating a process or procedure will not only keep your learner interested but also becomes a good tool to remember the steps of the process.
Another factor to be considered in this regard is the selection of the narrator. It is better to choose a professional narrator if you want a flawless and high-quality narration for your eLearning course. The nature of your target audience also plays a major role when it comes to selecting your narrator; for example, you wouldn’t want to use a narrator with a British accent if your learners are American. For a good narrative even the tiniest of aspects need to be considered. The last thing any course needs is the wrong kind of narration style or accent in the final stages of course development.
If your course has audio in it, then it is absolutely essential that your graphic user interface must have audio control options as well. An eLearning course has an audio ON/OFF button and a bar to adjust the volume. These things may seem unimportant to the designer, but goes a long way in creating a good learning experience. At times, your learner may just want to skip the audio or may like to set the volume lower as the default volume is too loud. This is where audio controls come in handy, giving your learner the choice to choose or not to choose the audio.
Take Home Scripts:
As mentioned earlier, audio is used for narrating important points present onscreen or even summarize each screen. The text that comprises the audio can be used as an additional resource to your course, where your learner can take the audio script as an additional handout or a learning aid. These can be referred by your learner when he/she implements the learning in a real-life scenario.
These are the basic standards that one needs to follow when deciding to use audio in an eLearning course. Do let us know if have an interesting note to add.