ELearning and Audio Narration: The Good and the Bad

Designing Digitally


elearning strategy

It seems like adding audio to an eLearning activity would be a no-brainer thing to do. The common thought is that it can jazz up what is being displayed on the screen and create a higher level of engagement.

Unfortunately, the issue isn’t that cut and dried. There are times when audio does lend some benefit, but there are also times that the addition of audio has the opposite of the desired effect, and ends up doing more harm than good.

The most important thing to remember is that each and every facet of an eLearning experience should be adding value. That’s a pretty good litmus test for adding narration or for any other questionable practice.

It can help to look at the issue in terms of pros and cons, though there are even caveats within these two distinctions.

Pros of audio narration

ELearning is an ever-changing and evolving area. What works for one course perfectly may not work at all for another. There are a lot of variables.

First, let’s try to break down some of the positives that can come from adding audio narration to a custom elearning course.

  • It may appeal to auditory learners. There are some learners who retain information better when they can hear it along with seeing it. Adding narration can bridge that gap.
  • Audio can be used to highlight important points. Audio can draw a learner’s attention to a specific point that needs to stand out in their mind.
  • Audio may improve retention. Even for learners who aren’t particularly labeled as “auditory learners,” the combination of seeing and hearing can help that information to stick.
  • It can lessen the amount of reading. Having a portion of the material narrated as opposed to having to read it themselves can be appealing.
  • Audio can add personality and break up monotony. With a longer, more detailed course, the addition of audio can make the information seem less tedious. Using a professional voice actor can add a bit of charisma to material that may tend to get dull.

Cons of audio narration

Now it’s time to consider some of the a effects audio narration can have.

  • Loading speed. Audio files are normally rather large and can add to the bandwidth, which will increase the time to load.
  • Bad quality can distract. If the audio isn’t of the highest quality, it can be a detriment by distracting the learner from the content.
  • Synching can be difficult. It can be a real challenge to sync audio and text that is on the screen and if it’s off, the learner will be distracted.
  • The problem with updates. Updating becomes much more difficult of a task when there is audio involved.
  • It can be a detriment to quick readers. When the narration is word-for-word with the text, it can be frustrating for learners who read faster than the narration.
  • Translations. If the eLearning course is to be available in other countries and or languages, the translations and accents can become an issue and result in miscommunication.

This is really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the use of audio narration. The bottom line remains the same: only include an element into a custom elearning course that adds definite value.

Get in touch with Designing Digitally, Inc. today and determine the best way to narrate your next custom elearning experience!