Time-Scale Modification for Online Learning: Making the Most of One's Ears

C.-A. Julien and J.-M. Robert (Canada)


Online learning, audio narration, time-scale modification(TSM), cognitive load.


On-screen text is still the norm in online learning for adults. Promoting audio information consumption is an uphill battle since higher education favours good readers and audio narration listeners have little control over the pace of content delivery which is critical for learning effectiveness. To this effect, time-scale modification (TSM) is a signal processing algorithm which allows one to vary the length of a speech signal dynamically thus providing the user with real-time control over the pace of content delivery. A literature review uncovered experimental and empirical support for TSM usage as a learning support technology allowing one to consume audio narrated multi-media lesson in a cognitively efficient multi-modal manner. Furthermore, we conducted a pilot study based on the observation of 5 university students and a survey on 30 students who used TSM for half an hour in an introductory materials science multi media tutorial showing that students often changed their listening speed during the tutorial and appreciated the utility of this function. On average, the most used listening speed is 1.28 times normal rate. Seventy percent of the respondents declared having changed speed according to content complexity for a perceived average content difficulty of 4.5 on a scale of 7.

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