Ann: “Do you think audio will jazz up my course?”

Me: “Do you think adding salt will enhance the taste of this omelette?”

Ann: “It depends on whether the omelette needs any more salt or not.”

Me: “Exactly!”

E-learning and eggs are no where related. Yet the similarity, here, lies in the fact whether both of them need enhancers or are good as-is. If you think that your course is good without an audio, then so be it. If your course is boring, and you are considering adding audio just to make it look ‘fun’, then I don’t think it will work. You must add audio, or for that matter any other element, only if you think it will add value to your e-learning.

There are mainly three types of audio used in any e-learning: narration, music, and sound effects.

Pros of using audio

There are so many studies that suggest that certain kinds of music can control how the brain receives information.  So there may be some value in adding certain kinds of tracks in your learning. Other than that, here are some great benefits of adding audio.

  • Audio narration, if scripted well, can help learners retain more information by reinforcing certain points.
  • Narrations and sound effects go a long way in adding a personal touch to the learning.
  • Use audio narration to explain a slide in detail and keep the on-screen text to a minimum. This way the learner is not distracted or overloaded.
  • Using audio narration for step-by-step instructions and scenarios involving dialogues can work wonders.
  • If you have an element of gamification in your course, then adding appropriate sound effects can make it fun. Learners learn better through games.

Cons of using audio

There are instances where adding audio to your e-learning may not add any value; instead it may have a negative impact. Here are some cons of using audio for your learning.

  • Background audio might result in overloading the brain’s processing power. Learners may find difficulty in retaining crucial information and get distracted by the sound effects/narration.
  • If your audio does not sync with the on-screen text, it will look very shoddy.
  • If your course is available in different countries, then you need to record the narration in different language. That is a labor-intensive job, and can impact project deadlines.
  • Bad quality audio is more detrimental than useful. Learners will try to concentrate on the audio and as a result miss out on the on-screen content.

Articulate Storyline supports audio

In Storyline there are three ways in which you can add audio to your courses. You can either import audio files, or record narration, or import slides from other content sources. You can edit the audio using the built-in Audio Editor. The Editor also allows you to export a copy of your audio for backup purposes too. In a nutshell, you can play around with the various options available and use the one that suits you the best.

But, you have to take a decision on whether using audio narration or other sound effects will really add to the e-learning or take away from it.

In case you decide to use audio, you need to keep certain things in mind.

  • The normal narration rule of thumb is a minute of talk time is equal to 100 words.
  • Allow the learners to control the volume. Let them customize the settings according to their individual needs.
  • Do not read out on-screen text word-by-word. It is boring and useless. All of us can read!
  • List out the hardware and software requirements for the learners before they start on the course.

You also need to keep in mind that if any learner does not have the required audio settings on his device, he may not be able to benefit from the course.