What Impact is Audio having on the E-Learning Industry?
From my own work as a professional voice over, I have personally voiced a very large number of audio-related learning projects over the years, and audio is an area of work that continues to grow utilising one learning platform or another. Interestingly for me, not only do I narrate general rubric, but invariably get booked to voice teenagers and very young learners, but that’s another story…!
1. What types of learners are benefiting from Audio-inclusive training?
The growing number of audio-inclusive e-learning options were covered in Part 1; but what types of learners are now benefiting from audio-related learning tools?:
- Corporate – employees, managers etc
- Professional and Technical- teachers, doctors etc
- Further education : key skills development
- Higher education : particularly language learning
- Younger learners/children/special needs respond better to audio-visual content
- Those whose preferred learning style is auditory
- Those who have limited time (most of us!) – see ‘3’.
- Work from home/sole trader business owners.
2. What are the Benefits of Audio in E-Learning?
- Increases inclusion of different preferred learning styles (therefore potentially reaching a wider range of learners/wider population), including auditory, therefore adding value. It is generally known that impact of communication is greatest from visual (55%), followed by the sound and tone of the spoken voice – 38%, compared to only 7% by the words used.
- Audio-visual learning is essential for young learners.
- Audio-inclusive e-learning plays an enormous part in aiding our use of non-productive time. When in isolation, as an audio CD/mp3/podcast we can learn in the car, on the train etc. The same would be true of vodcasts and webinars which include audio, with greater wi-fi availability in recent times.
- In the use of mobile technology as a growing e-learning platform, audio is seen as an essential enhancement to the visual/text mix, given that the screens are comparatively small.
3. How does Audio fit into the E-Learning mix? The Do’s and Don’ts…
Audio works fantastically well is isolation. When it’s used to compliment other learning methods, such as text and/or visual, it is used most widely in bite-size chunks, and/or summaries. The exception to that is probably language learning and special needs.
According to Cathy Moore, studies suggest that we shouldn’t narrate text that’s displayed on the screen where there is no learner control in terms of pace. The redundancy interferes with learners’ ability to digest what they’re being fed. My answer to that one would probably suggest the ability for the learner to be able to turn on and off the audio when faced with text-based duplication. However, again according to the same research – with graphics, it’s better to use narration rather than text. Simples?
4. How much growth has there been in the use of Audio in E-Learning?
- Audio and audio-visual tools began to see greater growth around 5-6 years ago, in parallel with the rise of social media.
- 50-90% of e-learning now contains some element of audio input.
- General shift towards podcasting/audio for professional training, such as motivational training for teachers, managers etcetera…
- Greater accessibility and cost-effectiveness of technology to users has increased usage of audio and audio-visual training by smaller organizations (previously the luxury of the bigger companies), plus smaller training consultancies offering e-learning to the increase in sole-traders working from home, whether it’s a see-and-hear the trainer, or a visual/slide/video presentation using a professional voice over.
- Clients are apparently increasingly demanding for audio narration to be included in the e-learning mix of tools to increase the range of learning styles and options.
- There has been a rise in the use of audio-inclusive e-learning platforms over past 5-6 years, with growth aligned to growth in social media. There are now at least 9 learning options that utilize audio in some way. Some training providers/enablers are making use of many these; others are either beginning to, or are in a niche market at the moment which has yet to embrace all that is available.
- Audio inclusion is benefiting a very wide range of learners, across all age groups, demographics, vocations, technical and professional
- Audio is very much seen as added value, but essential for younger learners, and is increasingly seen as a way to incorporate a wider range of learning styles, and therefore greater chance of increasing learning outcomes.
- E-learning is seen as an excellent use of non-productive time, but particularly in the case of audio, which has a greater range of possibilities for learning during these times.
- Audio is invariably a requirement to compensate for smaller screen technology, such as hand-held devices.
- Technological developments and it’s relative cost-effectiveness have created greater availability and use of audio-related learning.
What is clear is that neither audio, nor any of the other learning platforms we’ve covered in Part 1, will ever replace text-based learning or classroom- based However, the availability and ease of use of technology now gives us a much wider choice as to how we learn.
- To listen to my latest E-Learning Demo Visit E-Learning page
Want to read more industry related articles like this?
Sign up to Newsletter!__________________________________________________________
With acknowledgements and grateful thanks to the following contributors:
 Knowledge-Web: Growth in E-learning as company’s combat slow economic recovery. Posted on December 9, 2010 http://www.knowledge-web.co.uk/wordpress/uncategorized/knowledge-web-growth-in-e-learning-as-company%E2%80%99s-combat-slow-economic-recovery/
 contained within Knowledge-Web: Growth in E-learning as company’s combat slow economic recovery. Posted on December 9, 2010 http://www.knowledgeweb.co.uk/wordpress/uncategorized/knowledge-web-growth-in-e-learning-as-company%E2%80%99s-combat-slow-economic-recovery/
Footnote supplementary information:
The E-Learning Industry: a cost-effective learning option
According to Knowledge-Web  there has been a sharp rise in the use of e-learning generally as a learning method. A Key Note market report 2009  examined the UK training market found that organisations are constantly looking for ways to reap the rewards of training while lowering the costs of it. Coupled with these statistics is the fact that sales generated by this method of training have risen from 20.4% in 2005 to 32% in 2009.
The availability and effectiveness (including cost) of e-learning perhaps has meant that it appears there may have been a decline in person-to-person training. 62% of all training was delivered person to person in 2009. In 2010 this figure was expected to fall to 50% (ref: Knowledge-Web). Person-to-person training will never be replaced, as it has a value all of its own, but we are now faced with much more choice as to how we learn.