Presented by Lovo
The global elearning market was expected to reach a staggering total market value of $325 billion by 2025, driven by several factors at the time: the need to educate people at low cost; the falling price of learning solutions; a modern workforce needing to continue life-long learning; and the proven convenience and effectiveness online learning.
Then along came Covid-19, upending all predictions. And it’s hitting educators who never expected to be asked to go digital.
In March, when the pandemic was declared, the U.S. sprang into action, and offices, schools, and public areas were shut down. Americans found themselves unexpectedly living virtually though video meetings. The need to go online collided with the education system, K to college, in a big way.
Yet public school teachers were never equipped to turn to video teaching. College instructors were now being asked to dramatically pivot, and bring their entire curriculums online, from the current class they were teaching to future classes, potentially throughout 2020. It’s been a major burden on educational professionals. Online learning is a whole different proposition than face-to-face learning, and these instructors found themselves scrambling.
The challenges of online teaching
Taking a class online has a whole set of new requirements. From needing to rethink course design – for instance, if a course is discussion-heavy, or requires group learning – to needing to determine new strategies for teaching, engaging students, and assessing work, teachers are now being handed a big burden.
Turning to asynchronous learning can shoulder some of that work, and it’s one of the best benefits for students as well. Instructors make course material and lectures accessible online, shifting some of the pressure off their own schedules in a weird new world; students can do the work at their own pace.
That means, however, that instructors need to essentially become content creators, and the learning curve is steep.
“Educators are not professional podcasters or YouTubers,” says Tom Lee, Co-Founder at LOVO. “They’re not used to recording or speaking into the mic.”
You might ask why maintain the audio component in digital education at all? Couldn’t this be done just with PowerPoint slides and text? According to Lee, students respond more viscerally to voice and video learning. It’s essential to create the connection that keeps students on track, and help them hear and absorb the information being delivered.
“Maya Angelou once said, ‘Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning,’” Lee adds. “Voice is far more personal, and therefore more effective.”
Natural language processing and online learning
Scripting and recording whole lesson plans takes a tremendous amount of time and effort for an inexperienced teacher, and cuts into the time needed for other important aspects of teaching, like mentoring students.
The simple fact is humans get tired easily when reading a script – and university lectures can be two hours in length. And the critical part, being consistent throughout the entire recording, is a major challenge. It’s a real skill, and non-professionals – the instructors being asked to go digital – are struggling.
That’s why AI-powered voice technology is garnering big attention in the pandemic world. Data scientists asked, what if you didn’t need to record each and every lecture or class or demo that you did? What if the lessons or lectures you’ve already drafted in written form could be spoken in your own voice and added to online learning – without you having to take the time to sit down record a two-hour lecture?
The solution now exists, powered by AI and companies like LOVO. Users begin by simply recording a few minutes’ sample of their own voice. Once the voice is cloned, they can turn any written material into an audio file which can then be download and added to videos or slides to whip up entire lessons with significantly less effort.
“The fact that you can clone your own voice and generate this audio means that you don’t have to record yourself for every single new session,” Lee says. “And if you make a mistake, you don’t have to redo the entire recording – you can just edit your text like you would do in Word.”
The new online-learning normal
AI-powered voice tools are being used to expedite the content creation process across the country, such as right now with schools in California, universities in the southern part of the United States, and with instructors teaching classes for online learning platforms like Udemy or Udacity.
Digital learning will be the new normal, Lee says. Schools and universities are recognizing the value of digital learning, the effectiveness and cost-savings involved in bringing classrooms online. Entire courses can be created with voice cloning. And demand for the tool has risen substantially, ensuring this kind of technology will become a valuable, ubiquitous service for online content creators going forward.
“Voice cloning isn’t just a fad, and it’s not going to disappear any time soon,” Lee says. “Our goal is to make it more accessible for educators and content creators for online courses. This trend is not something you can choose to avoid. How you address the new normal is the critical part.”
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