Designing Courses without Audio Narration

Aug 03, 2017

I've been very lucky in my career to have the capacity, talent, and resources that have allowed me to include audio narration in (mostly) all the courses/trainings I've developed (within reason).

I've entered new territory and audio narration is not included in eLearning modules.

This is a challenge for me as I'm now faced with rethinking my development strategies to continue to deliver highly interactive courses.

If you develop without audio, what are your tips and tricks? How do you time your slides? Do you still include animations? Stagger timelines? How do you prevent 'click next' courses?

Thanks in advance!


8 Replies
Christy Tucker

Are you restricted from using audio because your audience is in an environment where they don't have speakers/headphones, or are you restricted because of resources? If it's the latter, I would push back and cite Clark and Mayer on dual coding theory.

I'll assume that your audience can't have audio in their environment (or that no amount of research on how audio improves the efficacy of elearning will change their minds).

Rather than focusing on making engaging presentations of content, why not focus on drastically increasing the amount of interactivity? A while back I did a short course where every single page had a question to be answered. All of the content was delivered via "push" rather than "pull."

I'm currently working on a course with limited voice over. In this course, the voice over is used for examples but not content delivery. It's around 40% interactive; that is, 24 of 60 slides require the learner to take action or answer a question. I have a few "click to reveal" interactions, but most ask the learner to think and make a decision. It's heavy on practice with feedback.

That's real engagement--making something that is relevant to the learner and requires them to mentally engage with the content. 

Can you approach your courses less as animated presentations and more as opportunities for practice with feedback?

Christy Tucker

One other suggestion: try not to rely on guessing people's reading speed accurately. Reading speeds are so variable that it's really hard to get right. Rather than trying to time words to animation to make it not too fast and not too slow, just put the text on the screen and pause. Let learners control the pace of reading.

Sean Speake

I strongly agree with Christy - in fact in most cases I don't auto advance slides, allowing learners to move at their own pace.

If you're not using audio at all, you need to be very judicious in terms of what content you are providing. You want to avoid a brain-dump or the elearning version of a technical manual.

I'm a big fan of scenario based learning with decision points and challenge type questions. I find those types of courses are less impacted by a lack of narration.

It does take a different mindset in terms of how to present concepts, particularly if you're used to using audio. Focus more on doing and application type interactions.

Hope this is at least a little helpful!

Nancy Woinoski

I actually prefer designing courses that have little or no audio because it forces you to remove all the non essential content and rethink the way you are going to deliver what remains.

The beauty of these courses is that learners can move through the material at there own pace so it is a good idea to avoid animated text builds and auto advance.

If you want to use animations to illustrate a concept, you could set them up so that the learner triggers when they start; however, do this with discretion. You want to avoid introducing a lot of click to reveal or click to read interactions just for the sake of making the course interactive.



Katie Evans

I'm a strong proponent of scenario-based learning/decision making interactions, however, I'm being thrown into a project that should have been completed by another ID, has a jarring due date approaching, and was never fully planned out prior to deciding it should be eLearning. I'm playing catch-up and attempting to make the content engaging and interactive, yet need to be conscious of time.

This is definitely a project that I'll learn from! Thanks for your guidance and suggestions.

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