by Kelly Barett, COTP
Over the years, I’ve taken a lot of eLearning courses; and at this point, I’ve seen it all. Some of the courses I’ve taken were clearly PowerPoint presentations and designed to be eLearning. The "courses" were usually text-heavy affairs and visually boring. There was usually so much information on the slides that it was nearly impossible to retain anything.
I’ve seen courses that included page numbers. Once I see a slide that says I’m on slide 1 of 80, I tend to immediately shut down.
If the course is boring or too long, I admit that I tend to skim through the presentation or simply click the Next Page button until I get credit for the course. Did I learn anything from most of these courses? Nope.
I’ve also seen eLearning courses developed with rapid development tools like Adobe Captivate or Articulate Storyline. Instead of a bunch of bulleted text, the slides contain text captions that pop up and then disappear after a few seconds. But what if I’m not a fast reader? After the text disappeared, it was replaced with a new one. And now I’m in a panic trying to find a pause or rewind button.
And I’ve seen courses that included voiceover narration but little (or no) text on the screen… just some very dated clipart.
When it comes to effective eLearning, should there be more text on the screen? Should there be less text but more images? Should there be voiceover audio combined with text and images? What should I do with my eLearning courses to ensure most of my learners actually learn?
I’ve heard more than once that people are either visual or auditory learners. However, a study published in the Psychological Science in the Public Interest indicates that there is no evidence or scientific validity to support this commonly-accepted theory. In fact, the study says that most people learn best with a combination of audio and visual.
Why Developers Don’t Record Their Own Audio
If you agree that combining voiceover audio, text, and images leads to the most effective eLearning, why is it that people don’t include voiceover audio? These days, all the eLearning tools allow you to record and edit your own audio. And if you find that your eLearning tool does not have the audio editing power you need, there are dedicated audio editing tools like Adobe Audition.
So why aren’t people recording their own audio? Simply put, many people don’t like the sound of their own voice.
Have you ever listened to a recording of yourself and thought, "that’s not me!"? There are many reasons for that, but mainly when you hear your own voice, you are hearing it from your vocal chords through the bones in your skull and then to your eardrums. However, when you hear others speak, there’s a direct sound wave straight from the speaker to your ear.
Another hurdle is people don’t know what audio equipment to buy or are unfamiliar with recording narration. Maybe they are intimidated by the complexity of editing their recordings. If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone.
Recording and editing audio is not as difficult as it may seem. Especially when you have the right tools, which includes the following:
- USB Condenser Microphone. I don't recommend that you use your headset microphone!
- Pop-Filter. Required so you don’t blow your listener’s ears out with your plosive “p” and “t.”
- Sound Shield. Helps reduce or eliminate ambient sounds or echo.
- Headphones. Allows you to hear more accurately what your listeners will be hearing.
- Software. Adobe Audition CC is my tool of choice.
If you’d like to know specifics and learn some basics of using Adobe Audition for recording and editing your audio files so they sound as crisp and clean as possible, then I invite you to register for one of my upcoming audio mini courses where I'll demonstrate some basic voiceover techniques and offer suggestions on the ideal audio equipment to use for recording. I'll also offer some basic audio editing techniques in Adobe Audition that can help eliminate background noises like laptop fans, air conditioners, or other ambient noises.
Kelly Barrett, COTP, is a veteran trainer and conference speaker. He is the founder and creator of Self-Help Online Tutorials (SHOTs), narrated microlearning videos. Kelly earned his BA in Electronic Media in 2003 where he first learned how to record and edit radio commercials and voice overs with Cool Edit Pro (later acquired by Adobe and renamed to Adobe Audition).