So Much Reading!! Why does eLearning have SOOOO much reading?

I'm relatively knew to creating eLearning content.  I take courses for compliance.  And there is a lot of reading.

Why are there so many courses and examples here that are all about reading?  Why isn't there more narration?

It may be that in my job we have to narrate our courses in English and Spanish due to our workforce.

I'm just tired of reading lots and lots of text when taking someone else's eLearning.

6 Replies
Karl Muller

Hi,

To start, most people read much quicker than a narrator can speak.

Then there are these additional issues related to using narration:

  • Creating narration adds considerably to the course production time and cost.
  • If you need to produce your course in multiple languages it has a ripple time and cost effect
  • Creates content maintenance issues. If your course content is subject to frequent change, you also need to change the voice-over. This leads to several related problems: your original  voice talent may no longer be available, so you could end up with multiple voices in the same course. Editing audio and matching levels is time consuming and cumbersome
  • Narration adds to the overall size of the course files. Many training systems (LMS) have limits regarding maximum files sizes.
  • Narration consumes bandwidth during the course delivery process.
Bianca Woods

Hi,

That's a great question to be thinking about, especially when you're new to e-learning and trying to get a sense of when a course should have narration and when it shouldn't.

There are definite general pros and cons to both narration and text-only approaches and personal preferences about which individuals like more.

Karl covered a large number of the main reasons a course might not have narration. I would also add that sometimes you're designing for learners who can't easily hear narration in the location they're taking a course. Maybe they work in a noisy environment. Or maybe they won't have access to audio on the device they're taking the training (a real thing I encountered once while creating compliance training for customer-facing bank staff). Or listening to narration might be inconvenient where they're taking the course: for instance, if they're accessing it while commuting.

One related thought: sometimes reading text-based courses feels exhausting because the text there is boring, wordy, or isn't useful to the reader. This happens a lot with compliance training in particular. In cases like that, you can make it feel much less tiring by simply rewriting the text: trim out content learners don't actually need to know, re-write the remaining text to be to the point and more engaging, and even add stories and examples to help it come to life.

WPA Training
Bianca Woods

One related thought: sometimes reading text-based courses feels exhausting because the text there is boring, wordy, or isn't useful to the reader. This happens a lot with compliance training in particular. In cases like that, you can make it feel much less tiring by simply rewriting the text: trim out content learners don't actually need to know, re-write the remaining text to be to the point and more engaging, and even add stories and examples to help it come to life.

THIS ^^ is probably what I'm experiencing the most.  This will also help me when doing our courses.  Thanks, Bianca.

Karl Muller

Hi.

Another issue with compliance type training, is that it often deals with legislation, regulations codes, policies, etc.  

The problem with this type of content, is that there may be no opportunity to summarize or simplify the information. In some industries, there are huge parts of compliance content that need to be reproduced verbatim from official documents, word-for-word, to meet6 compliance training requirements. 

These huge chunks of boring text can obviously be explained in simpler and easier to understand terms, but there is no way to eliminate the legal wording and "boring" parts as it is essential to be there from a compliance point of view.