eLearning best practices: Audio

When you build an eLearning course, you are training someone to improve their skills on a particular topic. The trainee is watching, but more importantly, they are listening. The worst thing you can do to hinder their improvement is to deliver a subpar audio experience.

[tg_youtube video_id=”51Q6IkOIDUU”]

Why sound is so important

Back in the day, before streaming was a thing, people would upload videos to an FTP folder and embed it in a website page. For various reasons, the video would prioritize over the audio. That resulted in videos looking like a bad foreign film voiceover. You would see the lips move and then hear the audio shortly after. I don’t know about you, but watching videos like this were painstakingly difficult to get through, to a point I would just stop watching them.

Maybe you watch YouTube videos to quickly learn a certain topic, like cooking, software, or putting an Ikea dresser together. If you have ever done this, you know the audio quality can be really poor. While you might complete the video, you know that watching this for an extended period would be pretty difficult.

For these reasons, your eLearning course must consider the learner is going to spend quite a bit of time watching the screen and listening to your voice, so you have to make it comfortable for them.

Professional audio vs. the cheap stuff

For around $200, you can purchase a microphone that delivers superior audio quality. As I mentioned in a previous article, you should purchase a microphone from a professional audio company that deals in audio and not a cheap headset or mic on Amazon that says “great for podcast and training.”

If you watch the video at the top of this article, you will hear just how important the audio is to your eLearning program. Here is a breakdown of what to expect with various audio products:

  • Your computer’s microphone will pick up everything. And I mean everything. I have yet to find a computer with a microphone that will do justice for a training program. The speaker picks up echoes, voices in the background, and any sound you make.
  • Computer accessory companies do not make good microphones. Okay, I shouldn’t be so harsh because I have not tried them all, but I have tried a lot of so-called professional mics from accessory companies, and frankly, they are great for a few short videos, but if you are delivering a professional training course, you need something better. These devices deliver a hollow audio quality that makes it sound like you are training from inside your basement’s oil tank.
  • Your phone’s headset is no good. I do webcasts online, and my phone’s headset works pretty well for that, but people know I am dialing in and have an expectation the audio is not perfect. When people are taking my training classes, they do not want to hear the headset’s microphone scratching up against my shirt or the tinny voice quality.

Get the settings right

Assuming you are using a professional microphone, you will need a mixer or signal adapter. You will need to configure the settings, so the recording is not scratchy or picking up too much background noise. Be sure to make a note of the settings so next time you do a recording, it does not sound different than previous recordings.

Setting up the audio for your eLearning training course is crucial, because the person taking your training class will just stop listening if they feel the audio is not up to par. Background noises and poor vocal audio lead to an overall distraction from the course.

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