The awards ceremony for our annual Lectora Competition that just past was held in Singapore Marriott Hotel this year. It was certainly a success! Prizes were flying off the shelves, the hum of conversation was high, the ice-cream lady has not an idle moment, and not mentioning the tremendous fun our attendees seem to be having in getting to that last eLC Teddy or Cushion. Barter-trading for prizes was actually happening right at the game stations, with total strangers united in supporting each other in winning their desired prizes! J All in all, it was an enjoyable afternoon and we thank those who support us directly or indirectly, and hope to continue this great event for many more years to come.
Same goes for our newsletter readers. Without you, there will be no newsletter so please continue to give us your valuable support and feedback.
Always have fun..
Title: Use of Audio - Part 1
“What is the most important element in a good animation or video?” Have you asked yourself this question when you are creating an animation or video? Is it the graphics? Colours? Or the motions? While all these are equally important, we can never underestimate the effect of audio accompanying the visuals.
Before we go into the depths of audio, we should understand some basics and technical knowledge of audio.
In audio, there are a few major audio file formats available in the market - MP3, AIFF, WMA and WAV. I guess most of you should be very familiar with MP3 files. Let me just give a short explanation on these audio formats.
MP3 - Exact name stands for MPEG Audio Layer 3. This is the most common audio format for music playback. The higher the Bitrate, the better the sound quality, and the bigger the file size. It can either have a stereo or mono playback. Bitrate determines the audio quality, and is known as the amount of data being encoded per second.
AIFF - It refers to Audio Interchange File Format. This audio format is used more commonly on Apple Macintosh computer systems, but has been widely accepted by many applications nowadays.
WMA - Exact name stands for Windows Media Audio. This is an audio compression from Microsoft. This format has almost similar settings as MP3, and is known to be effective at low bit rates.
WAV - Representation for Waveform Audio Format. It is used in an uncompressed format on the Microsoft Windows Platform. This raw audio format has the best quality, but comes with very huge file size.
Listen to the quality, and take note of the file size. Which format is more efficient in retaining the quality, and giving a relatively lower file size?
Having a little understanding on the slightly more popular audio formats that are currently used in the market, let us now go into the usage of the right format for the right audio type.
Using the right compression technique for the right audio
Basically, audio is anything that sounds. Be it an accompanying piece of music or a speech given by a speaker. To optimise the compression while not losing the quality, we must understand the audio that we have.
Narration usually does not have major varying pitches and tones. Therefore, the compression of the audio sample can be as low as 64 kBit/s, mono channel, for an MP3 format. Let's take a piece of sample narration, and compress it using different settings of MP3 Format. Compare the quality and file size, with the original audio file, in WAV format.
Notice that the quality of 8kbps is rather bad. On the other hand, 64 kbps and 128 kbps both produce similar sound quality, aren't they? However, 64kbps has a file size half of that of 128kbps.
For audio samples with music, usually having 2 to 3 musical instruments, we need to cater more bitrates to ensure the audio quality. A normal music CD quality has MP3 compression at 128 kBit/s, stereo channel. This would be sufficient, especially in cases whereby file size is limited, such as playing audio on the web.
For music with instruments such as flute or heavy drums, which produce very high pitches and very impactful tones, we need to be very careful in the usage of the bitrates. A higher bitrate must be used to compress this type of music, simply because we do not want to lose the climax of this audio. Thus, it will results in a bigger file size. Now again, compare the original audio sample with the various settings. What do you notice?
Take note that while 320 kBit/s will definitely ensure you the best quality, it shall be used carefully, as improper usage will use up excess file size, which means other elements such as the visuals will have to be compromised.
For streaming audio online, there is another very effective audio compression, which is WMA. This format, as compared to MP3, can achieve better quality at lower bitrates. To achieve lower file size, a lower bitrate has to be used. In this instance, WMA comes in handy when you are doing a streaming audio online.
After going through the fundamentals of audio, have you got a better idea of which audio format to use for your project? Next issue, we will go into more details on using the right genre of audio for the right mood for your animation/video. So stay tuned!
Lectora Competition Award Winners, past or present, hear hear! Check out our website for your own personal award logo download in upcoming days!
Welcome back! It is 2009 and our first issue of the year! We may be later than usual, what with our Lectora Carnival & Awards Ceremony 2009, Annual Company Chinese New Year Eve Celebration Dinner, and the welcomed public holidays that follows all in the span of one week, we are ran off our feet! But I am sure you will kindly forgive us for the slight delay this issue.
Dive right in to connect without much further ado! Click!
Title: Using Advance Organisers
Suppose you were to pick up a book where some pages of the book have been ripped off. The preface, table of contents and synopsis of the book are missing, which leaves you clueless about the content of the book. As a result, you are then faced with the choices of either flipping through the pages to look at the chapter titles or subtitles if available, don't bother reading it, or start reading anyway if you are really keen on having something to read.
A lesson or course that is designed with minimal or no Advance Organisers is akin to providing a book with missing synopsis, table of contents or preface. For the learner, they will most likely be confused throughout the lesson, and not be interested at all.
So what are Advance Organisers?
Advance Organiser is a concept developed by David Ausubel in 1960. Advance Organisers are cognitive tools used to facilitate learning of new knowledge. They are used as a pre-instructional strategy to organise concepts or ideas to aid in the learning and retention of new knowledge. Using Advance Organisers within the lesson prepares the learners for what is to come by providing an overview and setting the stage for new knowledge.
Advance Organisers can also be used to connect prior knowledge to the new knowledge. This helps the learners retrieve and make connections to what they already know, and focus them on the new information to follow.
Thus, when designing your courseware, Advanced Organisers are important strategies to adopt at the start of the lesson, chapter and topics, and whenever new concepts or ideas are to be presented.
Advance Organisers may be presented in the forms of expository, narrative or graphical organisers. Here are some suggestions on how you can use these strategies in your courseware.
An expository advance organiser provides a straightforward description of the new content. You may simply present this in the form of an introductory paragraph which may include a list of ideas or concepts to be covered.
A narrative advance organiser takes the form of a story. It can be used to present the essential ideas and concepts by telling a story or scenario that incorporates these ideas and concepts. When implementing this strategy in your courseware, you may describe a story that enables the learner to make a personal or real-world connection with the new content. These stories can be delivered in the form of text, video or animation.
Graphical organiser provides a schematic framework that can aid the learner in developing the cognitive structure of the knowledge to be learned. This strategy aids in the retention of knowledge and assists the learner in identifying relationships among ideas and concepts. Using visual representation, learners are able to see the connections and/or the relationship between pieces of information. Graphical advance organisers may be presented in the form of concept maps, network diagrams, process maps, hierarchical charts, etc. Below are two examples of graphical organisers.
Remember, the key point to using Advance Organisers is to orientate learners by providing an organised preview of the new content to be learned. Organisational strategies are used to aid learners in processing information. As such, the strategies of expository, narrative and graphical organisers can be adopted not just prior to presentation of new content, but also in structuring and presentation of the content proper.
Smith, P.L. and T.J. Ragan, Instructional Design, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2nd Edition, 1999.
Let's look at the new features of Lectora in detail and apply these to content development environment.
Available Anytime, Anywhere
Lectora Online is based on a server-client relationship. The main authoring tool will be hosted in a server environment and the client (user machine) will only need a web browser to open the application and work on the courseware. The browsers supported are as follows:
Internet Explorer 7.0 ++
Safari 3.0 ++
Features of Lectora Online
Audio Sample in MP3 Format, 128 kbps, mono channel (359 KB)
Click to listen to an audio sample in MP3 Format
Audio Sample in AIFF Format, 16 kbps, mono channel (715 KB)
Click to listen to an audio sample in AIFF Format
Audio Sample in WMA Format, 8 kbps, mono channel (30 KB)
Click to listen to an audio sample in WMA Format
Audio Sample in WAV Format, 16 kbps, mono channel (715 KB)
Click to listen to an audio sample in WAV Format