Friday, 27 May 2011

Investigation of student understanding and learning in multimedia presentations using human and synthesized voices based on the ‘voice principle’

Studies investigating learning gains in students exposed to synthetic voice audio-narration versus natural voice audio-narration have yielded mixed results. Hence this study was designed to further explore learning gains in an educational setting using synthetic voice audio-narration. The aims of the study were to quantitatively assess learning gains in students exposed to an educational resource narrated in a synthetic voice using Text-to-Speech, as compared to a natural voice narrated one and to qualitatively compare the two learning resources by using the following criteria: helpfulness, quality, warmth and familiarity and preference of audio-narration. This study consisted of 3 experiments. 

Experiments 1 and 2 were designed to compare a synthetic voice-narrated learning resource against a natural voice-narrated learning resource. Experiment 3 was designed to investigate learning gains and qualitative factors in a face-to-face narrated presentation. For Experiments 1 and 2, presentations were prepared in Microsoft PowerPoint 2007 to include synthetic voice audio-narration by using the freely available Text to Speech software “PowerTalk 1.2.14”. Natural voice audio-narration was done by recording the tutor’s voice in the PowerPoint. Student’s two-tailed t-tests were used to compare differences in samples. 

There was no significant difference in learning gains in students using a learning resource with synthetic voice audio-narration as compared to a natural voice audio-narration. Regarding the quality of audio-narration, results suggested that natural voice narration and face-to-face narration were perceived to be of higher quality that synthetic voice narration. Although all learning resources were perceived as being helpful, students preferred face-to-face narration with a PowerPoint presentation by the lecturer as their first choice followed by the narrated Power Points whilst PowerPoint presentation only was the third choice. This study shows that synthetic voice audio-narrated resources could be a useful tool in educational settings.

Split-Attention Elements and Students' Learning in Multimedia Environments

The research project investigates the effects of multimedia learning environments (MLEs) that divide attention of learners (split-attention effect) compared to MLEs that cater for such phenomenon on the learning experiences of the learner.  It aims to look at the effects on the cognitive load of the learner when attention is split between multiple sources of information. It also looks at the differences in performance and depth of understanding of the subject matter when two groups of students use the learning environments to learn the same content.

It was surprisingly found that although students who used the split-attention learning environment were subjected to increased cognitive load, they performed better in the learning activities and all of them achieved above average marks in contrary to those in the non split-attention environment. From the findings of the current research, it is perceived that although split-attention elements in multimedia environments would increase cognitive load, it did not specifically affect performance and understanding.

On the other hand, a combination of elements like previous subject matter knowledge, learning preferences, degree of learner control over the learning process and the type of assessment methods used can be determining factors that can improve the overall learning experience including learner performance.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Women Literacy and Entrepreneurship training through Innovative Technologies

The VCILT participated in a project with Commonwealth of Learning, the NPCC, Ministry of Tertiary Education and Ministry of Gender Equality... to develop interactive video lectures in the Creole Language. Two prototypes have been released. 

The first one is legal literacy for women and the second one is on business plan development. The Hon Minister Jeetah and the President of COL praised the work of the VCILT. The President of COL, Sir John Daniel also told one radio that VCILT is a very useful asset  for the country in its endeavour to launch its Open University.

You can find Minister's Jeetah's thoughts on the event here.