Weekly Bookmarks (5/1/11)
How Much Narration in eLearning? Our Lessons Learned by Don Bair & Mike Dickinson : Learning Solutions Magazine
Two IDs look at the use of audio narration–how much, quality of speakers, quality of equipment. Includes guidelines based on their survey of employees. I wish they had some more info about the survey they conducted though (i.e., how many responses they received, how many total employees at the company, etc.)
We wanted to know the preferences of our employees so we conducted a survey. They almost unanimously said that 1) they do not want the entire course to be narrated, 2) they do not want text on the screen read to them word for word, and 3) about two-thirds of the employees want to be able to turn the narration on or off.
Only 12% said they prefer professional voice talent. A full 85% said the voice only needs to sound good enough to get the point across without having to strain to understand it. Nearly 60% of our employees said “no preference”as long as the voice isn’t irritating to listen to. 40% prefer that the narrator be someone they recognize (i.e., a well-known manager, process owner, or SME). A surprising 9% said the narration could be computer-generated as long as it didn’t sound too robot-like.
Here are the guidelines we have adopted as a result of this study:
- [How much?] We will use audio only when instructionally necessary.
- [Control] We will make sure students have the ability to turn the sound on and off, and that they know how to do so.
- [Who?] We will continue to use in-house talent, but other than credits at the end, we will not identify the narrator unless his or her name or title is pertinent for the instruction, e.g., having the Compliance Officer introduce a compliance course. This will prevent having to re-narrate when someone changes position or leaves the company. We may audition to get more suitable voices.
- [Quality] We only need slightly a higher quality microphone along with a pop filter to raise our technical quality to the practical limit. We also identified a storage room that will double as our sound studio with the use of inexpensive draperies. This location should improve our ability to splice in updates without sounding noticeably different from the original.
- We will continue to have learners evaluate the use and quality of our narration and make adjustments accordingly.
4 thoughts on “Weekly Bookmarks (5/1/11)”
I don’t think it’s as simple as bachelors/masters training; I’ve certainly seen graduate programs where learning styles are very much an accepted part of training. I also think we do ourselves as learning professionals a disservice when we teach people concepts like learning styles as if they are gospel truth. The research isn’t that firm, and we shouldn’t pretend it is and then make people unlearn it later.
Keep in mind–I got my bachelor’s degree over 10 years ago. Some of the research I’m seeing now wasn’t available then, or at least wasn’t as clear cut. Some of this may be an issue of timing and knowing more now than what we knew then.
I wonder if professors teaching undergraduate programs are less likely to keep up with the most current research than those teaching graduate programs. That’s clearly not a universal truth; plenty of undergrad professors are keeping up with research, but maybe it’s more likely at that level.
Another possibility is that the culture for undergrads pressures professors to maintain the status quo and keep teaching learning styles. If your program is heavily invested in teaching learning styles, it’s hard to move away from that as the research debunks it.
Maybe it’s a combination of factors: newer research, organizational culture, and emphasis on keeping up with current trends.
Thanks for a great blog and for allowing comments on your site.
I am a graduate student working on a master’s in Instructional design. One of my classmates found your site and listed it in our classroom discussion board.
I wanted to comment on your post mainly because of the information you provided about employees surveys and how they reflected employees feelings about their training programs.
In my degree program we are currently learning how the human brain encodes information and stores it for later retrieval. One of the course sources states that if information is delivered in more than one way, it is more likely to be encoded in the brain in more than one way. If that is the case, the information is more likely to be remembered later when it is needed (Ormrod, 2011).
According to your post, the poled employees stated that they did not want an entire trainings session narrated to them and that they prefer that the instructor not read the text presented to them verbatim. As I read that, I wondered if the employees were expressing their need for more than one form of sensory stimulation. Most people have a preferred learning style, such as visual, auditory or tactile, but do not necessarily require their preferred style from learning programs to learn effectively. However, presenting the information in at least two difference ways helps to catch the attention of most everyone taking the training. For example, if a visual learner is presented with a verbal lecture, they may be able to encode the information for later retrieval, but will most likely be more interested if a graphic or chart is presented alongside the verbal presentation. This allows both a visual and auditory queue to be used to recall the information later.
Thanks for a great blog. I enjoy reading it and knowing that it comes from an instructional design professional gives it that extra clout.
Ormrod, J., (2011). Information Processing and the Brain. Los Angeles: Laureate Education, Inc. Retrieved from http://sylvan.live.ecollege.com
Your Ormrod citation requires a login, so I can’t review it myself. However, the Clark and Meyer research supports the idea of avoiding voice over text exactly matching the on-screen text. I’m guessing that research on cognitive overload is what is referred to in the other citation.
I would be cautious about claiming that people have visual/auditory/etc. learning styles. If your masters program hasn’t led you to this research yet, please review the two papers cited at the beginning of my post on understanding learning styles research. The Dunn and Dunn VATK model, in particular, is not strongly supported by research.
While there might be something to the idea of learning styles, you can probably have a bigger impact on the effectiveness of learning you design if you focus on other factors with better research support.
Thanks for the reply. I can send you the transcript from the Ormrod citation I noted if you would like me to. Just let me know where to e-mail it to.
I also wanted to comment on your statement about learning styles. I find it puzzling that my bachelor’s studies introduced me to learning styles right off the bat. The first course text was about learning styles. Yet here in your Blog, and even in my master’s program course work, learning styles seems to be cannon fodder deemed as unworthy of a true professional’s consideration. While in your reply you do state that there might be something to the idea of learning styles, you warned me to focus more on other factors that have better research support, specifically meta-cognition.
I wonder, is the dismissal of learning styles something new in the last couple of years?
Should other universities even be discussing them in undergraduate work?
In your post “Understanding Learning Styles Research – September 1, 2008” you stated that you accepted the idea of learning styles unquestioningly when you got your education degree. I did too, and why not? It was part of my degree program as well. However it does seem that this idea is cast away in graduate studies.
The best way I can sum up the feeding of learning styles to under graduates is to compare it to crawling. As a child most of us learn to crawl when we first become mobile. However, once we take our first steps and master walking, crawling becomes obsolete. Perhaps learning styles introduces us to the idea that we can study how people learn and then use that knowledge to help us create instructional programs. Then once we move onto learning theories such as behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism, we are walking and can leave our crawling behind.