Tuesday, November 15, 2011

This week I'm getting some online training ready for my current client and discovered that Adobe Captivate and the Paul voice from Neospeech had problems with the following sentence:

"Numbers are also present on signs throughout the building."

At first I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was wrong with the way this was being said.  I listened a few times and realized that the word present sounded like the noun present that you would give on a birthday or at Christmas, rather than adjective that I am present in this situation or the sign is physically present in the building.  Technically the words are both pronounced the same, but there is a stress difference between the two.  Clearly I meant to say that the signs are physically located throughout the building.  I could rewrite the sentence but instead I did a little research and discovered a better solution. 

I wondered if there was a way to let the text to speech engine correct this.  I've discussed before the need to inject pauses using either additional commas.  You can also add pauses with more control using commands such as or .  The 500 in the first example means 500 milliseconds, while Break level 2 is similar to the pause that a comma produces. 

Turns out there is a solution for changing the pronunciation or stress on certain words that change depending on the parts of speech used.  Here is the syntax:


In my specific example, I entered:


This ends up changing the pronunciation ever so slightly from a present as in a gift, to the state of being present time or physically here right now.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Two Most Important Questions To Ask Your Clients

When I'm at the analysis stage of developing training, there are two most important questions I ask of my clients.  These two questions are often confused with one another, but there is a difference between them.  The first questions is as follows:

"What will the learners be able to do or know upon completion of this course?"

I think you can see that this leads to my ability to build my objective.  The rest of the course design and development will stem from this very simple question.  For example, if my client responds to this question with "learners will be able to change a flat tire" than that is my objective for the course, at least for the most part.  I will likely break it down into sub tasks as needed and add the conditions, such as "given a car with a flat tire, a spare tire, a jack and a tire iron, you will be able to...."

The other question is:

"What do you hope to accomplish with this training?"

Now they sound like similar questions but they're not.  The first question was to answer was the learner was going to gain from the course.  The second question is what the client, the stakeholder, or business for that matter, will gain from this course.  For example, I might be designing a customer service course.  The learner's objectives might include items such as learning the proper steps to greeting the customer, and identifying their needs, and so one.  The business will get out of this course, more sales, happier customers and less complaints.

I think we often over design a course because we have failed to ask these types of questions.  If you identify was the client wants for themselves, their business, and the objectives for their learners, you should never have any questions popping up in the eleventh hour about course content.