Before discussing how to improve our teaching with audio courses, let us first look into how audio has come to be a crucial part of online learning.
Why Audio Courses Have Come to Stay
Long before now, people have been learning in classrooms and through texts, but the advent of the novel Covid-19 pandemic emphasized the need for e-learning. What e-learning aims to accomplish is to make education accessible for all, regardless of location, background, disability, and financial capacity.
Online learning is therefore supposed to be readily available whenever you need it, so you can just tune in to a course and enrich yourself with knowledge. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
Some students can't catch up with zoom classes, and connection and video problems keep arising in the middle of lectures.
Audio courses, on the other hand, aim to minimize these challenges of e-learning. It makes education more accessible by reducing cost, eliminating the problems of Internet connection and the need to alter your schedule to meet up with a zoom class. With audio courses, you can simply plug in your headphones and learn as you walk, anytime, anywhere.
But is that all there is to audio courses? Definitely not!
Audio learning fosters critical learning: While texts often seem authoritative, audio courses, on the other hand, enables the listener to process the information by how it’s said rather than what’s said. This is why tone and voice matters.
It creates a more profound connection: Spoken words can typically invoke emotions far more intense than written words. The emotions thus elicited in an audio course can facilitate retention and connection.
Improves assimilation through vocal inflection: Do you remember how difficult it was for you to understand that theory but found it self-explanatory when you listened to someone discuss it? The variations in tone, pitch, and speech pattern make the topic more relatable and hence, more easily understood. You'll never find that vocal inflection when reading text or visuals.
So how can we improve teaching using audio courses?
9 Ways to Improve Our Learning with Audio Courses
1. Keep length in mind
Texts typically give students the ability to learn at their own pace, whether they're fast readers or not. But with audio courses, it is more challenging to put them in the driving seat since they have to listen according to your speed. Therefore, as a tutor, your audio course should be concise enough to keep listeners engaged while being as explicit as possible. A great way to do this is to break up your course into bits rather than a single hour-long audio file.
2. Don’t merely read out texts
Audio courses shouldn’t be a plain human text-to-speech. On the contrary, it should be a learning tool that gives a richer experience than just words on a page. So even when you have a script drafted as a tutor, read it aloud to ensure whatever you say sounds more conversational than merely reading words from a textbook.
If it’s a visual course, you can include infographics and photos to emphasize points. This is advisable for complex subjects.
3. Invest in quality, conversational narration
Most times, it’s not about what you say but how you say it. The tone and enthusiasm in your voice play a crucial role in keeping listeners engaged. They can even make a complex topic, such as a technical course, more enjoyable for the learner. If optimizing your tone and enthusiasm is something you find difficult to do, it’s a great idea to pay a talented voice-over artist. You’ll find it a worthy investment in the end.
4. Audio quality should be top-notch
Your audio should be of high quality with the right volume and pitch. Additionally, you should record your voice course in a sound-proof environment to eliminate external noise and interference. Noisy backgrounds can put off audio learners.
5. Use audio guides for complex assignments
One tremendously effective way to improve our learning with audio courses is to provide audio explanations following complex assignments. Since students often find some assignments daunting, the audio should guide them on how to complete the assignment with clear and explicit instructions. They’ll understand the audio more effectively than a written guide.
6. Add background music for a richer experience
Music playing in the background can enhance concentration and learning in some individuals, as well as shake up monotony. Music can be used to augment words, just like a movie score. However, you must ensure the sound does not suppress your words or distract the listener. It’s also useful to use specific sounds for specific themes – Alpe audio courses use the same music for summaries in every lesson across every course to cue users into the face that ‘hey! Now’s the time to pay attention’.
7. Give your audience some level of control
Not everyone is comfortable learning alongside background music. Audio learners should therefore be allowed to tune out background sounds without affecting the narration.
Additionally, there should be playback tools to adjust volume and mute audio. This is because learners may find themselves in an environment where they need to quickly tune out the sound on their device. So if you want to enhance learning with audio courses, you want to give your audience the freedom to control the audio according to their needs.
8. Create multiple accent versions for your audio course
A great way to improve learning with audio courses is to cater to everybody by having the same audio course in various accent or languages.
9. Consider speed
While the narration in your audio course shouldn’t be as fast as a face-to-face conversation, it shouldn’t be slow or robotic either. Either extreme can put off listeners, making them turn off their devices in frustration. An ideal speed for an audio course is anything between 120 and 140 words per minute.
It's also a great idea to include a playback tool to enable listeners to increase or decrease speed.
In summary, to improve our learning with audio courses, you must optimize the audio for the listener. You have to use the right aspects of audio to make sure that your course is tailored for this format: make sure your narrative is interesting and concise. Make sure the speed is appropriate for the information being conveyed. Keep the length of the lesson and course in mind and know the demands of your audience and make that your priority. Writing an audio course is an art in it of itself, but we can all improve our learning with audio courses.