Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Is text without audio better for teaching/learning? Is voice without text better for T/L? Why/when/how?

"Fractal...duality,... right and left brain perception..."
Please join us for “Whose Voices Don’t Matter?” a FREE online Friday, Feb 24 at 2PM ET,  when we'll explore the changing options and reasons for using voice in teaching and learning.  We'll also examine and discuss the title of this blog post - which is a purposely provocative False Dichotomy.  

Register Free:  

Meanwhile, here are some preliminary but useful email comments from Sally Kuhlenschmidt  re the role of audio in teaching/learning both online and face-to-face.

First, characteristics of text (without audio) that might be advantageous for teaching/learning:
  • Cross-Platform: "Endures across platforms, 
  • Editable: "Easily editable and thus improved and 
  • Clarifying: "Forces one (as author) to be explicit and clear in one’s thinking. "
SallyK  also says:  "I’m interested in knowing what audio provides that is equivalent or superior to those purposes?   I’ve dabbled with audio, made my own podcasts at one point, but find it useful in a fairly narrow set of circumstances. I’d be interested in hearing arguments in favor of it."

Second,  conditions for which audible voice might be advantageous for teaching/learning:
  • Emotion:  "Hearing a voice with emotional tones is appropriate for an emotional message (I use it in relaxation training) but may be a problem for an intellectual one. This particular message does have some emotional components but the intellectual is also there.
  • Categorization:  "Voice places a person in a particular gender and SES in more obvious ways than does text. That may be desirable for some purposes (e.g., a class on speaking) and less so for others. 
  • Multitasking:  "If a person is planning on doing two things at once (e.g., driving and listening) then audio is a help, however the research indicates that split attention is of poorer quality than focused attention so if the learning task is complex, better to focus on it alone. Multi-tasking turns out to be a poorer way to learn than focusing.  
  • Sensory Preferences:  "There is a subset of persons who have attentional or sensory issues who may be better served by audio. It could be a supplement to a text document if there are a number in the audience with those issues.   There will be others for whom audio is a problem. With text a screen reader can interpret the material."
[NOTE:  SallyK kindly allowed us to publish the excerpts above before there was a time and venue for the kind of reflection and editing characteristic of her valuable contributions.  I expect that readers will share my appreciation for these initial thoughts - as such - and join me in looking forward to a time when we can hear more from her on this topic.]

IMAGE selected by Steve Gilbert 20120222
Photo of "collage by Elizabeth Gill Lui. Snap Dragon Mandala; Mandala 1 from Gill Lui's The Horizon Within series. The artist writes: 'My work in photographic collage has involved an investigation into the fractal nature of organic life and the issues of duality, multiplicity, and the right and left brain perception of pattern and our ability to create meaning. The overlap between physics and the spiritual structure of the mandala and tanka style of painting has been an influence in the geometric structuring of my work.'" 1995 by "Fame Fairy; Elizabeth Gill Lui"
By Fame Fairy; Elizabeth Gill Lui 
(Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons "I, the copyright holder of this work, hereby publish it under the following licenses: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license."

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