Along with Text and Visuals, Audio forms the backbone of e-learning delivery. According to the popular handbook to e-learning design – E-learning and the Science of Instruction – ‘presenting words in audio rather than onscreen text results in significant learning gains.’ There are many benefits of introducing the audio element in an e-course. For one, it inserts an element of interest and engagement for the learner. It also sets the tone of learning and humanizes various characters which take the course forward.
While undoubtedly a strong medium of learning delivery, the question that is often asked is – How much of it is too much?
The answer to this lies in analyzing your learner and the learning styles which dominate the group. The narrative approach should then align keeping in mind preferred styles of learning and providing options to cater to them all. Here are Four Audio Narrative styles that are followed in e-learning and the ways you can mould them to suit your learning needs:
Some learners prefer auditory learning – especially if the textual content is long and detailed. This style is suitable for such courses, to provide the option of just ‘listening’ to the information, instead of reading it thoroughly.
This is a popular style, adopted by many e-learning developers on account of its flexibility and alignment to multiple learning preferences. Only a part of the text is read out – to increase the impact of learning.
This style is adopted when the textual content needs to be drastically reduced without compromising on the depth of information. Textual content is reduced the bare necessities – a word or a line for each point to be made. The point is then explained in details through the audio for the benefit of the learner.
This style utilizes audio with images, graphics and animation on screen. Here too, text is minimal or completely avoided. The audio is synched with on screen images or animation, and is the main element which creates the context, narrates events and brings the course to its conclusion.
Use audio sparingly or use it as the prime medium of learning delivery – use it judiciously. First and foremost, understand the learner needs well and align your strategy accordingly. It is also not mandatory to use just one style for the entirety of an e-course. It is perfectly acceptable to mix and implement two or more styles to suit the learning needs of the learners. In addition, keep in mind the availability of resources such as good voice-over artistes and recording equipment. Also make sure that the learners have the necessary hardware to best utilize audio. Only then can the strength of audio be truly impactful and directed to enhance learning.
Suggested further reading: http://purnima-valiathan.com/readings/Audio_narration.pdf