Joel Harband heads Tuval Software Industries, based in Israel. Their best-known product is Speech-Over, a PowerPoint add-in that enables PowerPoint slides to incorporate narrations using automated voices.
In this conversation, Joel discusses interactive narration for e-Learning.
Geetesh: Joel, can you give us a quick introduction to Speech-Over. Then tell us more about i-Narration, and how does it work with Speech-Over?
Joel: Speech-Over is a PowerPoint add-in that produces and manages effective and compelling voice-over narration, together with subtitles and lecture notes, that is automatically synchronized with PowerPoint visual animations to achieve the effect of a live presenter. Its main application is narrating PowerPoint-based training and e-learning courses and web presentations and interfaces with e-learning products like Camtasia®, iSpring® and Articulate®. Speech-Over can use both real voices and text to speech voices in any combination. The TTS option eliminates all microphone recording, saving substantial time and costs in development. Speech-Over is able to make any TTS voice sound more realistic and effective with its SAPI narration text editor.
Now I’ll tell you about the new e-learning technology we call i-Narration or Interactive Narration. The motivation for developing i-Narration came from the objections voiced by experts about the way narration has been used in e-learning: a fixed-speed continuous narration on a slide constrains learners to a fixed learning pace and to a fixed order of topics making them passive and sometimes frustrated learners. i-Narration empowers individual learners by giving them control over the pace of the narration and the order of topics—turning passive e-learning into active e-learning with better understanding and retention. i-Narration gives the learner the powerful benefits of narration without the negatives.
With i-Narration, course designers break up or segment the slide narration into sections or logical units where each narration section is associated with a visual topic heading, text bullet or graphic on the slide.
An audio control-bar—modeled after the familiar Windows Media Player control bar lets learners access the narration either sequentially or interactively. The play button plays all narration sections on the slide in order, sequentially, as a learner might prefer when learning the material the first time.
The skip and restart/rewind buttons let the learner access the material interactively, skip sections of the narration and concentrate on others, go backwards and forwards and repeat sections, as a learner might prefer when reviewing the material.
The audio control also lets learners vary the rate of speaking of the narration to match their rate of learning.
Subtitles are displayed on the screen as the narration is spoken and the complete narration text for the slide is available in the notes pane for those who prefer it.
Now let us explore how this i-Narration works with Speech-Over? Developers use Speech-Over in PowerPoint to produce narration segments that are associated with topic headings, text bullets or graphics on the slide, and that play in their sequence. The narration segments, together with the subtitles and the narration text notes for the slide, are then imported to Storyline from PowerPoint.
We’ve developed a Storyline template for i-Narration which includes the audio control bar and layers and triggers for the narration effects. After the Speech-Over narration is imported to the Storyline template, developers just need to copy the narration and subtitle effects to the appropriate layers and the i-Narration will work.
For more detailed information and access to developer resources please visit our site.
Geetesh: Why did you choose Articulate Storyline to deliver this i-Narration initiative? Also do you plan to interact this technology with other e-Learning products?
Joel: Articulate Storyline with its layers and triggers was built for interactivity in e-learning and it has a good interface with PowerPoint and so was a natural choice for implementing i-Narration.
We are checking other e-Learning products to see if we can extend this technology to them as well.