So for ages and ages folks have used frames to present instructions on one side of the screen and a live database on the other. Guided tutorial is what I call it. Recently we began using Macromedia Breeze on my campus, and colleagues seem freshly intrigued with the possibilities of incorporating audio into online instruction. One of them asked the other day if Breeze could somehow be squeezed in to the instruction frame on a guided tutorial so students could both read and hear the instructions, but I don't think it can, as it wants to display a PPT, and that would never fit in a split screen (at least not if you wanted to leave any room for the live database).
So I reached back in my dusty memory for a tool I once used called Boomer that allows you to encode any audio file (well, .mp3 or .wav at least) into a Flash file and embed it in a webpage. (Actually there are two sides to Boomer - Audio and Video - together they make a nice little Flash slideshow, but that's not what we're focusing on today.) Never thought of using just the audio part of Flash, didja? :-) What's nice about it is that as with any other type of Flash file there's almost never a plugin to worry about - it just plays. In this case, as soon as a page is loaded the audio begins to play. Now you wouldn't want to abuse this as there is no controller to allow the user to control the audio in any way, but if you use it judiciously I think it can provide a good enhancement to the written word.
What's nice about Boomer Audio is how easy it is to use. If you can record an audio clip to your computer, all you do is then drag that clip in to Boomer Audio and hit convert and it 1) converts it to a SWF file (very small) and 2) builds you an HTML page that will play that file. All you have to do is copy the HTML code from that webpage into your tutorial page, then upload them both to your server and you're done. You can play with sampling rates on the conversion if you're so inclined, but you don't have to.
Turns out you can do this same thing in the full version of Macromedia Flash, but that's only a viable solution if you already have that product. It's also a lot more expensive than Boomer :-) Update: Rebecca found some Macromedia Tech Notes that go into detail about how to do this using Flash.
OK, enough about that - here's the proof on a tutorial I'm currently working on. Even if you can't get in to the database you can navigate through the framed instructions and listen to the audio on each page. What do you think - a useful addition to the tutorial, or not? http://www.ucalgary.ca/library/libcon/wispr/HSNursing/