Ok…the title is a bit harsh. I don’t think that we should completely stop using narration in our courses.
Let me give you an example of a course that drives me nuts:
Imagine going through a course with a bunch of text and some pretty pictures. Now imagine that there is a nice calm voice that is reading every word on the page. Also, the page navigation is locked and you can’t advance until the slow voice is done. Arghhhh…I’ve already read the text 3 times before the voice is done! I’m stuck and beginning to really dislike the course.
There are times when audio narration is appropriate and other times when it’s “less effective”.
I’ve always been in the “camp” that believes that audio narration and text on the screen should not be exact duplicates. The audio, text, and visuals should be used to tell the story and teach.
Here is a great demonstration of 4 ways to narrate your training course (from the Rapid eLearning blog). After viewing that demo I think that we can all agree that method 1 was very painful. I really liked the 4th method. It takes a bit more time to come up with the visuals but it’s a lot more effective.
Here are some interesting articles and studies to dig deeper into this topic:
Do we really need narration? (Cathy Moore)
Should we narrate on-screen text? (Cathy Moore)
Narration in eLearning (eLearning Leadership Blog)
Add people pictures to your eLearning.