Voice to text has been commonplace for years now. It feels natural to dictate a text message to our phone, write a shopping list by telling siri what we need, give navigation instructions orally in our cars, the list goes on. Recently, however; Articulate has enabled the opposite – text to speech. Without engaging a voiceover artist or even using a microphone, you can now create narration in your e-learning courses!
Articulate has made it simple to create a voiceover narration. It’s as straightforward as writing your script and entering it into the voice to text field.
Then you can choose your language and voice/accent and Voila! You have e-learning content with narration.
Text-to-speech narration works just like other audio clips in Storyline, so you can use the audio tools to customise it. You can even use different voices for different clips, which is helpful for creating dialogue between two characters.
Here are some tips for getting the best pronunciation and phrasing with Text-to-speech:
- Don’t use abbreviations
- If a correctly spelled word isn’t pronounced the way you want, try spelling it phonetically
- If you need longer pauses, then convert your Text-to-speech and open it in the built-in audio editor and add silence where required
There are some drawbacks to using Articulate’s Text-to-speech function. While it is simple and cost effective, it still sounds very computer generated. We can see this improving in the future, as technology of computer animated voices gets better. It also doesn’t have the same inflection of an actual human voice. It sometimes doesn’t portray the sentence as the course author would have suggested, placing emphasis on the wrong words. This could arguably distract the user from the learning at hand. However, we think it’s beneficial to cater for as many learning styles as possible at one time and using voiceover narration for some or all of your content can assist students who learn best auditory.
We provide a lot of training using the Articulate software and one of the most common questions we are asked is which one of these products will give me the best value? Which one is the most user friendly?
There is no right or wrong answer because both will help you create captivating online courses. The question should be which one is more appropriate for the elearning I am creating?
We rounded up the details of both new Articulate software below.
Articulate 360 comes with a variety of tools as opposed to Storyline 3 which just gives you the upgraded version of Storyline 3.
With your subscription to 360, you get access to the following tools:
- Storyline 360 – develop courses with custom interactivity for any device.
- Studio 360 – this is an upgraded version of articulate studio. Studio enables you to create modules easily. If you have PowerPoint presentations that you want to quickly turn into courses, this might be beneficial.
- Peek – screen-recording app for Mac and Windows computers
- Replay 360 – this helps you record and edit webcasts
- Preso – develop informal training videos on your iPad.
- Content library – this is a major draw card for anyone who doesn’t have a huge image repository sitting at his or her fingertips. Articulate 360 gives you images, characters, template designs and videos. You can go from 0 to 360 in no time flat – no pun intended! This library will save you a lot of time and effort in having to source images elsewhere.
- Rise – this is another authoring tool that lets you create content for mobile devices. It is intuitive and a must if you are producing any courses for users that are on the go.
- Review – one of our favourite features of 360 is the ability to review your content in real time. We often use this feature when we collaborate on modules together. We have the ability to give feedback to colleagues in real time.
- Live – training webinars led by experts
One nice new feature available in Storyline 360 is Text-to-Speech, it allows you to convert text to speech right in 360. This is a powerful feature, we still feel the voice narration created sounds a little computer generate.
Articulate 360 is a subscription-based software. This means you have to pay a monthly fee for all that Articulate 360 has to offer. This is ongoing, so if you only want to fork out the payment one time, this solution probably isn’t for you.
Articulate Storyline 3
Storyline 3 is the same great product that we have come to know and love. Storyline 3 is a perpetual license, which means you pay the lump sum for it now and don’t have to pay again, that is until the new version of Storyline comes out and you want to upgrade.
Storyline 3 comes with the added features:
- Allows you to structure text with tables, which can be great for organizing your content.
- Create and add closed captions. We have worked with WCAG and Section 508 in the past and this feature is an added bonus if you do any work for disabled employees.
- The motion paths are much more advanced and new trigger events let you create content that is more game- like.
- A new responsive player that will look great on tablets and mobile phones.
To put it simply, Storyline 3 is an upgraded version of your old Storyline. If you only want to spend the money once, are happy with your current Storyline 2 and don’t need access to a reviewing tool or the content library, this is the product for you. If you are happy to go with a subscription, Articulate 360 gives you access to more tools to work with. It is continually getting upgraded so you reap the benefits of the advancements.
Still not sure, click here to compare features across all Storyline versions.
If you have large images, audio or video in a Storyline file and you need to reduce the size of your published output, simply edit the quality settings by following the steps below:
1) Click the Publish button
2) Under Properties, Quality: click Custom optimization
3) Click Custom and then adjust the Video, Audio and Image quality.
Have you ever wondered how long your e-learning course is? Storyline allows you to do this by automatically calculating the duration of the course timeline. Follow the steps below to find out how:
How to calculate your course duration
1) Click the Publish button
2) The following popup will appear, then click the button highlighted below:
3) Next to “Duration”, highlighted below you will see the estimated course duration
Articulate Storyline 2 been released and bundled with a heap of new features. Rather than go through them all we have chosen some of our favourites that will allow you to take your courses to the next level.
1. Motion Paths
We have been waiting for this feature for a long time and it doesn’t disappoint. Now you can create motion paths that can be triggered anywhere on the timeline. How often have we wished we had the ability to make objects move in Storyline like we do in PowerPoint? Now we can.
2. Dockable Panels
If you are so inclined, you can move the triggers, slide layers, timeline, states, and other panels to somewhere else on your desktop, or to a second monitor. This will let you have room to focus only on the scene you are working on.
3. Auto Recovery
I don’t know about you but I am one of those people who have opened their project to begin work and realised that I didn’t hit save last time and have lost hours of work. Now this won’t happen anymore. The Auto recovery feature allows you to start where you left off whether you didn’t save or your computer crashed.
4. Slider Interactions
This is one of my favourite new features. Storyline has created an interaction that allows users to manipulate data, explore relationships between objects and principles and to make it even better it looks great in your course.
5. Read only seek bar
Often I want a learner to have their own control over the course navigation, but still enforce some sort of time accountability on a slide. Through a read only seek bar, learners have to stay on the slide for the allotted amount of time but still have their own autonomy when clicking next. It’s a win win!
5. Trigger to hide the next button
In Storyline 2, the Trigger Wizard has new events, allowing you more options to control objects on the slide. The flexibility to hide the next button until users have completed the slide is a helpful new option that we already see ourselves using again and again.
6. Copy and Paste Layers
We see this as a huge time saver; we love having the ability to copy and paste layers. No more having to create and re-create the same layers for new slides.
7. Animation Painter
We love format painter and use it all the time. We are so excited about the new Animation painter for adding the styling to all of our animations!
8. Character Spacing
This new feature lets developers space characters any way they want. With this feature we have can make text look any way we want. Time to get creative!
9. Question Import
Remember the pain of having to manually write each question and its answers into the question field? With this new feature, we can import questions from an excel or a text file and to create assessments efficiently.
One thing we really wish Articulate would provide further support in is HTML 5. Although it is supported, we still find any courses that are sizeable or have videos; audio or advanced variables can have trouble on an iPad or mobile device.
Do you need to make your elearning course accessible and not sure where to start? Here are some guidelines that will help you get you started.
The official website http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20 is very thorough and needs to act as your final benchmark. The website http://webaim.org/standards/wcag checklist is a fantastic resource that contains a checklist for implementing the WCAG principles and techniques for categories A, AA and AAA. This tool can be used as a simple guide to ensure you cover all components.
Some tips for what you need to do in Articulate Storyline to get a start on your WCAG compliant course:
1) Add Alternative Tags to all images and buttons or content that cannot be read with a screen reader. To do this:
a) right click your image and select Image Size and Position
b) select Alternative Text
c) Describe your image/content
2) Make any shapes or background that is not relevant to the content hidden from the screen reader. Do this the same way you would add an Alt tab, but uncheck the box that says “Object is visible to accessibility tools”
3) Include a transcript in the notes section, or in a closed captioning box (more on this later) for any audio track or media file included in the slide. To do this, click on the notes section at the bottom of your slide and paste in any relevant text.
4) When including any links, make sure the colour contrast is 3:1. This website has a helpful contrast checking tool http://webaim.org/resources/contrastchecker
To do this:
a) click on the image and select format
b) Select shape fill
c) Go to more fill colours and choose the eyedropper
d) Then click on your colour to determine the html number
e) Put this into the contrast checker website along with the other colour you are checking.
5) Text and images must have a contrast ratio of 4:5:1. Again, use http://webaim.org/resources/contrastchecker
6) Each paragraph of text has specific guidelines:
a) Must not be over 80 characters in length
b) Have adequate spacing between lines
c) Must not be fully justified
7) Keyboard must be used for all navigation control. Check this works by tabbing through the articulate course once it is published. If the learner will be using JAWS, you can find a list of JAWS keyboard shortcuts at: http://www.freedomscientific.com/doccenter/archives/training/JAWSKeystrokes.htm
These are a few tips that should get you started. For a comprehensive overview, see http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20