I have an interest in voiceover and narration to say the least. I have spent some time over the last few months researching (and to a degree learning) the voiceover aspect of things because I figured it could only add to what I do as an eLearning developer. Now, in looking at a lot of the eLearning examples I have come across, many are narrated. Some are definitely done by professional voice talent. Others are done by a person with a computer and a mic. If you are that person, I hope you were not offended by my reference.
One of the things that I noticed in some of the examples was that the voice was saying the same thing that I was already reading on the screen…verbatim. At first I rationalized and thought that it might have been for the same reason that closed caption is included in some presentations. Then I thought it may have just been a personal pet peeve or preference. Then I began to look around and found that others had the same personal preference. But I am not one to write off ideas or methods so easily. Maybe there is a reason for this technique. Although Chris over at eQuixotic quoted some stats from Richard Mayer’s book, Multimedia Learning, in which he notes that removing spoken text from screen increases learner retention by 28%. But then, for every technique that proves a point, there are others that reach another conclusion. Another blogger refers to this on-screen narration technique as a means of fulfilling the obligations to SENDA (Special Education Needs and Disabilities Act). Of course, that is the British equivalent of Section 508.
My personal preference is to have the audio be a bit different from the screen text in most cases, even if the differences are only slight. Of course, I don’t have any specific challenges that might cause me to need another technique. I might even be ignorant in that way. So I am searching for enlightenment. Is there someone who can explain the other side for me?