Incorporating audio elements into your eLearning courses can be a great way to raise the audience’s engagement level. Quiet, empty moments in your course can expose its seams very quickly, whether the material is being delivered live or remotely. In this post, we’ll look at a few different audio options that you can use to make your eLearning courses more palatable and enjoyable.
There is a wealth of accessible and free background music online that you can use to add a little spice to your eLearning material and avoid some potentially awkward silences. The YouTube Audio Library has a vast number of tunes available for commercial use, but only if you have a YouTube account. Mixkit is another great resource for free stock materials, as it even goes beyond music to include video and sound effects as well.
Pro tip: Try to avoid using royalty-free music that you’ve heard before. For example, there are a handful of tracks from Incompetech.com that are extremely overused in online video content. You might recognize this one.
When implementing sound effects, there are an overwhelming number of options to choose from. The best advice here is to be subtle. Ambient and understated sound effects, in most cases, will be far more effective than loud, obnoxious feedback for users working through a course or presentation. There are many effective sources for free sound effects on the web, such as SoundBible.
Recording your Own Narration
If you want to feature narration in your course, but the responsibility of recording said narration falls to you, take a look at these tips for making yourself sound as good as possible:
- Make sure the script is finalized before you start recording; re-recording and re-developing for timing is costly and time-consuming
- Try to sound natural! In the right context, a more casual, conversational tone of voice can really improve the quality of your narration
- Minimize outside noise and use the best headset microphone available to you for recording; here are a few materials and products you can use to assist with soundproofing
- Use a tool like Audacity – a free application that will serve you well for voice recording and editing
- Include closed captioning for those who cannot listen to your narration; PowerPoint has a feature that automatically generates subtitles for your audio files
- Outside of closed captioning, try to avoid text-speech redundancy; audio narration that simply reads out text already onscreen is a quick way to bore the audience.
Speed and Control
Audio narration should be paced carefully to avoid moving too fast or too slow. It shouldn’t quite match the speed of normal conversation, but balance in between. Learners should always be allowed to control audio volume. Mute, unmute, and pause options are also essential to the user experience. Without these functions, you run the risk of overloading the audience with too much information at a speed they’re uncomfortable with.
Let it Breathe
The best way to make your work shine, audio or otherwise, is to give it space. No matter how much effort you pour into strong narration, music, and sound effects, viewers can easily be distracted if you’re also implementing text, video, or animations at the same time. Be deliberate with your audio-visual elements and your audience is sure to get the most out of your training.