Audio Recording: Going In-house
Adding instructionally sound narration to an eLearning course can greatly improve the course’s quality. Audio provides another way for learners to glean information. And theoretically, it provides another channel for learners to store information. A narrative also helps a course or a presentation to flow … why, it’s as natural as speaking.
The recording of narration is something anyone can tackle. You basically have three main options and personally, I’ve been satisfied with all three approaches. They are:
- Record in-house at your workplace
- Hire a professional narrator who can record from home and send you the files
- Use a professional narrator in a recording studio
This article will provide guidance on the first option.
Tips for A Great Audio Script
Even though the visual aspect to eLearning is its dominant feature, the audio portion is the timeline that carries it along. Writing for narration is quite different than writing for the reader. When writing an audio script, be sure to:
- Write in shorter sentences
- Use a conversational tone; scripts can be somewhat less formal
- Avoid tongue twisters and word combinations that are difficult to pronounce
- Re-read the script aloud several times and revise each time
- Organize the script so that each screen of the course has its own sound byte
- Give each sound byte a unique and logical filename (Example: The filename can be the module or lesson and screen number, such as m1s3.wav
Finding the Talent
Seriously … the best way to find a rich voice for in-house recording is to walk up and down the hallways of your workplace and listen to the conversations. If you hear a voice that sounds full and smooth, try to convince the owner of this voice to become your narrator. You’d be surprised at how many people are flattered by the request. (You may not want to mention it is hard and tedious work.)
Alternatively, some courses are best narrated by a well-respected expert in your organization. If the person has decent elocution and tone, he or she may be your best choice. If all else fails, you may have to fulfill the role of talent yourself.
Equipment and Software
To record your narration you will need a microphone and audio recording/editing software. And yes, you or someone on your team will have to learn how to use the software. You can find a decent headset and mic combination with a USB port at a local electronics store. In the States, these can be found in a store such as Radio Shack. I’m not sure what the equivalent is in Europe, India and Australia, where some of my readers reside. If you have suggestions out there, please let us know.
For software I have happily used Sony’s Sound Forge on the PC for years. On the Mac, many people use Audacity, which is free. The high-end audio recording software for the Mac is ProTools. In addition, many authoring systems come with recording capabilities. For example, Articulate Presenter and Adobe Captivate have a recording mode in which the narrator is recorded directly into the authoring tool. Amateur audio recording and editing does not have a particularly steep learning curve. Becoming a professional audio engineer does.
You already know that an in-house recording of a colleague speaking into a headset from Radio Shack is not going to have the audial quality of a movie trailer voice. But in-house recordings will suffice when your budget is limited and when you have few resources. If you will need to make frequent revisions, in-house recording is quite convenient. It is also an excellent way to get started with audio, to experiment and to learn.
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