August 6, 2014

Narrating in e-Learning: When and How?

Posted by IN

How can you decide to use narration within your project? Will it have a clear educational purpose or are you adding it “just because”?

When?
Various Reasons for Using Narration

Provided narration is properly employed, it can add value to your training project.

Support the Needs of the Target Audience
Reading skills are not the same for everyone. Whether the training is intended for doctors, workers or children, the approach should be customized. If the target audience has problems reading, the narration will be of great help.

Reinforce Key Points
We should never narrate the text that appears on screen in a verbatim manner. Redundancy interferes with the learner’s ability to digest the information. Instead, associate the narration with a summary on the screen in the form of key points.

Convey Emotions
The dialogues in a scenario based on real actions can not only add a human and lively touch to your project, but also a dash of realism. For example, a dialogue between a salesperson and a customer helps to understand the subtleties of good customer service.

Master a Foreign Language
Narration plays an important role in language training. A vocal guide is a very effective aid to master accent and pronunciation. In these cases, it is best to enable the unlimited replay of the narration.

Explain an Illustrated Process
To support a series of images illustrating a transformation or a software simulation, narration balances auditory / visual aspects. The visual channel of learners can be overloaded if they must process the images and words they refer to.

How?
Various Tips on Using Audio

Here are some rules to follow.

Use Short Sentences
Limit yourself to one idea per sentence and delete all the extra verbiage. Divide sentences in two when possible.

Use Linking Words
First, indeed, because, however, then, finally… Binding words or connectors allow learners to understand that a change of subject (or idea) is coming and helps clarify the message.

Avoid Lengthy Enumeration
Although one can use written lists, we quickly lose track when they are used orally. Stay concise to retain the learner’s attention.

Read Aloud
While this may seem trivial, it is important when writing a narrative text to read it aloud, which will help detect awkward wording or tongue twisters (try saying “Willy’s real rear wheel” out loud without getting it wrong!). Reading aloud also confirms whether the sequence of sentences properly flows. You can test the length of sentences. Are you able to say a sentence completely without having to stop for breath?

References:
Legault, Nicole. Audio and Narration in e-Learning: Pros and Cons, Flirting w/ eLearning. 2012.

Bair, Don. Dickinson, Mike. How Much Narration in eLearning? Our Lessons Learned, Learning solutions magazine. 2011.

Malamed, Connie. The Art Of Writing Great Voiceover Scripts, the eLearning Coach, 2010.