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.
People often say, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” This certainly rings true in elearning when there is often so much information to deliver. Images can grab a learner’s attention by creating an engaging and riveting scene. Using images can help brighten up boring subject matter, or use a diagram to convey a complex topic. By using photos or illustrations, you might trigger an emotional response in your learner that helps move them to a deeper level of understanding and help commit this particular fact to memory
Stock image sites can be a great way to source images for your project; however, they can often be costly. We have rounded up our favourite 5 sites where you can get free images to use in your courses.
Most of these image are free from copyright restrictions or licensed under creative commons public domain dedication. This means you can copy, modify, distribute and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, without asking permission. Where noted below, some do require attribution, which means you have to give kudos to the photographer.
No attribution required
A free site with CCO (Creative Commons Zero) license. Lots of photos on many topics, also searchable.
No attribution required
Download free and premium stock photos and illustrations for websites, advertising materials, newspapers, magazines, ebooks, book covers and pages, music artwork, software applications and much more. If you want higher resolution images, they are available for purchase.
No attribution required
Approximately 9000 beautiful images on a wide range of topics. Site is searchable; photos are on CCO license.
Absolutely stunning photos of various topics, portraits, landscapes but you do have to give credit to the artist.
Free images for use but not for resale.
This site is a game changer. Over 1 million free images, vectors and videos, all under CCO license to use in elearning. Search, browse, enjoy!
Another site with a range of topics and free hi res images.
Most free, some premium images require subscription.
No attribution required
Great for anything food related.
18,000 images available, must provide attribution to the photographer.
In honour of World Autism Awareness Day, we have rounded up some useful links about elearning and Autism:
The Geneva Centre for Autism has developed a series of free courses for educators of those with Austism. The courses were developed by a multidisciplinary team of occupational therapists, speech and language pathologists, behavioural therapists and others. It can be found on their website.
Gaido is a learning platform to help people with Autism, as well as their teachers and carers. In this article by the eLearning Industry, the founders describe how their state of the art platform will assist autistic students and their tutors.
Autism Internet Modules is a wealth of information on Autism. There are a variety of modules ranging from subjects such as “The Employee with Autism”, “Autism and Medication” and “Parent Implemented Intervention.” These modules are free, or with a small cost, can be accompanied with a certificate.
Autism outreach Canada has created a list of online courses, specifically for educators of children on the spectrum. They can be found here.
We hope you find some useful information in these links that will help you in teaching or caring for those with Autism.
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
With the release of Internet Explorer 11, it seems many users are experiencing several issues when trying to play Flash-based content. There are still a lot of instructional designers out there developing eLearning courses for flash only viewing. Internet Explorer is one of the world’s most popular browsers and is deployed as the standard browser in most corporate SOEs (Standard Operating Environments).
There is still time before Internet Explorer 11 is rolled out across most corporate networks, but make sure your eLearning courses cater for the future. Ensure the Authoring Tool you use not only publishes to html5, but is optomised for mobile friendly viewing.