ne of the biggest benefits of eLearning is the ability to easily integrate media into your courses. Integrating media is a great way to make your learning experiences more engaging, interactive and diverse for your learners.
However, budget can often get in the way of our media dreams. Videos - often our first thought when someone mentions “media” - can be painfully expensive or difficult to pull together.
If that sounds like you, why not try audio snippets instead?
Audio snippets are just that - snippets of audio, anywhere from 20 seconds long to a couple of minutes. Audio snippets are typically far cheaper and easier to produce than videos, but can be just as interesting and interactive for learners to experience.
HowToo makes adding audio snippets to your courses simple, with a wide selection of blocks that allow you to easily upload audio with accompanying transcripts alongside images, text and questions. This opens up a range of opportunities to integrate audio into your courses in different ways.
Four ways to use audio to enhance your online training courses
Stories are an immensely powerful way to teach new ideas to learners. Stories immediately capture our attention and are naturally highly memorable. Stories can also place important information or concepts in a natural, relatable context, making them easier to understand and apply.
For example, you could tell a factory worker that they should never wear loose items of clothing around the machinery. As important as this safety fact is, it’s, well, a little forgettable. But tell a story of someone whose clothing got caught in a piece of machinery… well, no one is going to forget that in a hurry.
Humans have been telling stories out loud to pass on knowledge for thousands of years. Try incorporating a story to illustrate a point in your next course using an audio snippet, instead of writing it down.
Scenarios are another fantastic learning tool, for many of the same reasons as stories. However, while scenarios may seem very similar to stories, they’re not quite the same.
A story plays out in full, from start to finish in one go. A scenario plays out in bits and pieces, stopping at important points to ask learners to reflect on what has happened, guess what might happen next, or assess the next best move. Scenarios often focus on interactions between just a small number of people, around 2-4.
For example, HowToo uses audio snippets to create a scenario-based learning experience in the Whistleblower ready-to-go course. Every few blocks, the learner listens to an audio snippet in which the main character described his situation, including his thoughts and feelings about what was happening to him.
Situations that may involve an act of whistleblowing are complex and daunting by nature. By using audio snippets, the learner can hear and relate to the character’s nervousness and confusion. As the learner gains more information around whistleblowing legislation, they can begin to answer questions about the appropriate course of action for the character to take, and hear how it plays out.
Interviews are a great way to tap into the wealth of knowledge in your organization. They can also be the most budget-friendly way to incorporate audio snippets, as you can get decent audio recording with as little as a smartphone or laptop, and a quiet room.
If you’re creating an onboarding course for your team, why not interview some key members of your company to include alongside their headshots? That way, your new team members can meet their colleagues and managers without needing to organize dozens of meet-and-greets for their first few days.
You might ask your interviewees to introduce themselves, describe the work their department performs, and welcome the new hire to the company.
Another way to use audio interviews is to tap into the subject matter experts in your company for topical courses. This can be a great way to capture important knowledge and experiences to share in a scalable manner across the company.
Our last suggestion might not be as widely applicable as the first three, but soundscapes are an equally interesting way to consider using audio snippets in your training courses.
Soundscapes are a “landscape of sound”. They don’t usually include any dialogue, but are about capturing a range of overlapping sounds to create unique scenes or textures. They might be recorded in place where many sounds are occurring at once, or might be constructed with software to layer separate sounds over each other.
Soundscapes can be a great way to transport your learners to a different place. Here are three examples of ways to use soundscapes:
- A course about your company’s supply chain could include a recording of the many sounds of the factory floor.
- If your organization works in outdoor areas, such as a forest, field or beach, you might record these.
- A course on safety in a warehouse or factory might include the sounds of different kinds of alarms so that workers can learn their meanings.
Important tips for using audio
If you’re excited to start including audio snippets in your next course - fantastic! Here are some important quick tips to keep in mind.
- Always include a transcript. Transcripts record any dialogue that takes place in your audio snippet as text. Transcripts are vital for making audio snippets accessible for individuals with impaired hearing, or without headphones.
- Don’t just repeat what’s already written in your block. This redundancy will just teach your learners that your audio snippets aren’t necessary to listen to.
- Follow up your audio snippet with questions asking your learners to reflect or assess what they just heard. This solidifies the learning and prevents learners from skipping over the snippets.
- Aim for high quality audio. High quality audio should be clear, loud and easy to understand, and should not crackle, buzz or hiss. Low quality audio will frustrate learners and may be unintelligible to hearing impaired users.
Audio recording equipment and editing software have never been more affordable or easy to use. So why think about how you can include audio snippets in your next course?