Podcasts in learning campaigns: Are we underestimating their value?

Top tips for better assessments in elearning
August 22, 2017
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I recently moved from interstate and found that I had to get used to the longer train ride into work. It was a great opportunity to start reading again, so I started with ebooks. However, all that time spent with my head hung down reading from my phone wasn’t helping my already-troublesome neck.

My next stop (and new favourite) – Podcasts!

The more I listened, the more I loved them. And it got me thinking – why aren’t we using them more in learning? Go back to your high-level design and you’ll probably see the following elements: Text, Audio, Video, Activity. No podcasts!

Podcasts aren’t always about interviewing people – so let’s get that out of the way. In its simplest form, it is an audio piece.

Course audio that reads out everything on screen is not a podcast.

One podcast that has caught my attention is a psychological thriller and I don’t think it was simply the genre that interested me. It was fascinating how it made me listen for things that would build context in the absence of video – I was completely engrossed as I built visuals in my mind.

I can see immediate benefits like:

>> Spacing out learning by ‘pushing’ podcasts to employees

>> Increasing retention and engagement through shorter learning moments

>> Focusing on one desired outcome per podcast

>> Helping learners learn anywhere, anytime

>> Providing cheaper and quicker solutions (when compared to video)

>> Eliminating distraction in the absence of video

>> Encouraging the learner to ‘listen’ and ‘visualise’.

Now, while you may be still thinking of someone verbally explaining something, I’m excited at the thought of using Podcasts in the soft skills and leadership space, because both these are driven by what and how you say things. I’m thinking of using these to depict conversations, emotions, tone etc.

Sounds interesting?

Here are some quick tips to get you started:

  1. Select voice over artists with distinct voices and/or accents. This helps the listener recognise characters immediately as they switch in conversation. It also reflects our diverse workforce.
  2. The background must accurately depict the location of the scene – for example, if a manager and employee are travelling on work and having a conversation at the airport you could build in background sounds of airport announcements, maybe someone bumping into one of our characters and apologising, or even mid-conversation interruptions like stopping the conversation to check if the airport announcement was for their flight.
  3. A great way to move across scenes to either different characters or to depict a new day/conversation, would be to use a sound that indicates an end to a conversation and the beginning of another. The podcast I am listening to has this great drum beat that makes me reflect on what I heard and prepares me to start listening to the next part of that conversation.
  4. Keep the script conversational and natural. It’s okay to hear the occasional clearing of the throat, some stuttering, if it is a natural reaction etc. If you want to make it sound like a speech, then this entire blog post is kind of pointless.

But guess what happened when I finished writing all of the above? We, at TLH decided to do an impromptu (it took 2 minutes from idea to implementation with no scripting at all!) podcast to discuss this blog – so we took the interview approach which will give you a taste of another way of using a podcast. Hope you like it! You can check it out here: https://youtu.be/2uZFso0NcYs

So, what next?

Download a Podcast app and listen to multiple podcasts – interviews, presentations, and serials.

Think about which ones capture your attention and the ones that make you come back for more. Go back to that high-level design and make some changes.

Are you going to take that leap into using more podcasts in learning? Let us know…

Rhiana Power is a Learning Designer/ Project Manager at The Learning Hook with 8+ years in designing online and classroom training. She’s especially passionate about leadership and management training and has also been a facilitator for many years.

For more eLearning, visit www.learninghook.com.au

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