I critiqued a notably engaging elearning course the other day. The outline was exceptional; the interactions were effectively located and convincing and the meaning was thoroughly laid out. Except the audio, that’s where the course took a turn for the worse. The course included voice overs on each screen and the voice-overs were created using text to speech software.
I have at no time been a fan of text to speech software. No matter how “advanced” the software gets, it constantly sounds identical. It always sounds unnatural. And that takes me back to the course I examined. In my judgment, the course was so appealing that it actually did not need any kind of audio. I know some people will maintain that every course needs audio so it won’t be so boring but I don’t agree with that. There are certain conditions when audio would be attractive but not significant.
This detailed course had been created in Captivate and employed the built in text to speech functionality. As far as text to speech goes, I must affirm that Captivate does possess some of the best voices that I’ve heard. But no one listening would misjudge them for in the flesh, human voices. At the beginning, the voice is delightful but as the course continues, it begins to frustrate you. You commence to hear every little mispronounced, unnatural sounding syllable and towards the conclusion, you are ready for the thing to end.
I am absolutely going out on a limb here, but I honestly can’t imagine that the creators of Captivate ever planned for a course to be originated, using text for speech on every frame. I would believe they provided the functionality to please clients who had used other computer programs that subsequently contained text to speech functionality. I do understand that it is a viable choice for creating voice-over audio for courses that will be preferred by the visually impaired, so for that I honor Adobe.
I understand that professional voice-over employment can be high-priced. And I appreciate that several individuals are not comfortable using their own voices for elearning courses. But I also comprehend that voice-overs do not always provide the class of impression that many developers propose. Various developers add voice overs just to appease clientele and that is a mistake. If the voice over does not add to the long-term learning performance of the course, leave it out.
If a client does desire voice over for a course and you consider it to be something that enhances the learning, articulate to them about retaining a professional. If they question about text to speech, make known to them that it is substantial for brief spoken text, maybe for an introduction or objectives list, but you would not advocate it for an entire course. Consider, you’re the old pro and the client looks to you to make decisions like this. Most people will bear with you as long as you supply them with quality verification as to why text to speech is not suitable.
And one definitive note, as an elearning developer, you need to have a few voice over specialists on speed dial, just in case you need something recorded fast. Or, if you have a capable voice, you may need to furnish a quick and simple voice over yourself.
For more elearning techniques and methodologies, check out my book “Become an Elearning Developer Today!” now available in the Kindle bookstore.