Using Podcasts For Learning-Updated

podcasts-for-learningIt’s a simple idea, yet using podcasts for workplace learning is still not as widespread as it could be. A podcast is like having a radio show, audio book or lecture that people can listen to on their own schedule.

Another Form of Mobile Learning

A podcast is a digital media recording distributed via the Internet that is usually delivered in an episodic format. Most podcasts to date are audio. Podcasts may consist of PDF files or video, but this is less common.

Podcasts are played on a computer or any mobile device that plays digital audio files, including smart phones, iPods and MP3 players. The most portable format is most likely MP3. What a great way for your organization to distribute content that employees can listen to while performing other tasks, such as driving, working out or walking. Listening to an audio podcast on a mobile device is another form of mobile learning.

Types of Topics

You can reach more devices by focusing on audio-only podcasts. Then present content or information that doesn’t require a visual component. A few examples of the many topics that could work in an audio-only delivery format are:

  • New hire orientation
  • Foreign language and customs
  • Soft skills, such as listening skills or conflict resolution
  • Presentation recordings (get permission)
  • Interviews with experts
  • Content creation by employees

For examples, see my podcast interviews.

Learning 2.0

Many consider podcasts to be part of the Learning 2.0 space because they are a mobile form of media and a type of social media format. That is, anyone with a microphone and a way to digitize their audio product can create a podcast. This approach to learning can empower knowledgeable people within your organization as well as external experts to share their skills and knowledge.

Advantages of Podcasting

There are several compelling reasons to try podcasting.

  • According to Pew Research, 40% of people in the US listen to audio on digital devices. The number is expected to double by 2015. (Pew Research: Audio by the Numbers)
  • Producing a podcast is relatively fast, easy and inexpensive compared to full-blown media courses
  • Learners can listen to podcasts during “dead time” like traveling to work
  • Podcasting provides opportunities for employees to generate their own content
  • You can distribute podcasts publicly through iTunes and other sources or privately through an internal network

Instructional Design for Podcasts

When podcasts are taking the form of training or performance support, then use the same sound principles of instructional design in your audio script or questions to an expert that you apply to all your training development. Formally define your goals and objectives for development purposes, but state them informally or through a story to the listeners. Ensure the flow and organization makes sense. Keep the writing clear and concise. Define terms before using them.

Podcasting has the potential to be another powerful tool in your eLearning kit. It should be effective for a dispersed audience, busy employees and as a way to empower your workforce to share their knowledge. If you are using podcasts for learning, please tell us about your experience in the comments below.

You can subscribe to The eLearning Coach Podcast in iTunes.

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