Audio Tips #1

Quality audio is important to achieving the best educational results.

In most situations, we learn through both our audio channel and our video channel. But most of the learning comes through the audio channel. So it is particularly important for the audio to be of high quality:

  • Understandable
  • No distracting background noises
  • Consistent in pitch, pacing and volume
  • Practiced

Most Recorded Lectures are not very Good

Most educational institutions have mountains of recorded lectures, and almost never will anyone listen to them, because they are not very good.

There are two ways to record lectures, and both have some problems.

  1. Recorded live, during a real lecture
  2. Recorded in a studio.

Live Lecture Recordings

During a live lecture, the speaker will be relatively distant from the microphone, making it hard to get the best quality sound. As the speaker turns their head, the volume will decrease. With P’s and T’s, there is an explosive burst of air (and sometimes spit) that makes a popping sound and can be difficult to fully suppress later from the recording.

Microphone type and quality is determined by the live setting. Large, bulky microphones aren’t usually used, even though they can provide the truest, richest, warmest sound reproduction.

Unless the speaker has given this lecture many times before, there will be hesitations, stops, pauses, misstatements and other human errors that are awkward live, and tedious when played back.

Some speakers are practiced, enthusiastic, energetic, and inspirational. Their recordings are reflective of this skill. But most medical education speakers are something less than energetic and inspirational, at least at the interface between student and professor. These lecturers produce a product that is not that terrific, and the recording of that not-terrific-product results in a not-terrific-product that is embedded on a hard drive.

Most speakers try to strike a balance between education and entertainment in their lectures, and this is usually a mistake. Unless the topic lends itself to this blend, the quality of the lecture rapidly deteriorates and is neither very educational, nor frankly very entertaining.

Because it is time-consuming (expensive) to edit the audio after the lecture is over, most resource-restricted departments will simply record the lecture and make it available to students and housestaff for later listening.

They almost never listen later.

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Notes from a Medical Educator