The Many Ways of Learning

There are many ways to teach and learn. As we have moved away from the one-size-fits-all approach in L&D, businesses are increasing the different methods offered in their learning and development suite. Podcasts continue to rise in popularity, and over 74% of podcast listeners engage with them in order to learn new things, as they are seen as easily accessible and can fit into ‘dead’ time.

This raises the question of how podcasts or audio learning actually work as a way of teaching or learning compared to other methods. In this blog, we’ll explore arguments for and against using audio as a modality for learning, especially in the context of leadership development and self improvement podcasts.

For Audio Learning 

  1. Over the last 6 months, we have been conducting pilots with our learning content, which are 10-minute-long podcast-style lessons. We asked users who participated whether they think it worked.
  • 92% of users said that they found podcasts and audio courses to be an effective way to learn new things. 
  • 86% said they would be more interested in engaging in L&D if supplied with high-quality audio courses. 

Research shows that there is an appetite for audio courses in the L&D space, and it’s having an impact on the user's learning journey. This is a great addition to an organisation’s existing content and lets employees learn how they want to! This is particularly relevant for leadership development, where flexibility and accessibility are crucial.

92% of Users Found Podcasts an Effective Way to Learn.
  1. Over the last couple of years, podcasts have gained spectacular popularity. It is estimated that there will be 504.9 million podcast listeners worldwide by 2024, compared to 274.8 million in 2019. 

The market is constantly growing, and 64% of people are using podcasts to learn, and more than half of millennials choose to listen to educational podcasts. If they weren’t effective learning mechanisms, then it’s unlikely so many people would be committed to gaining knowledge in this way. 

  1. Self improvement podcasts can help reduce your cognitive load, as we tend to be screen fatigued after work and the last thing we want to do is sit at a screen and watch a video on leadership skills. 

The reduction in cognitive load is because when you’re listening to podcasts, you’re focused only on one thing. If this is also paired with video when the cognitive load is increased because you’re having to use your eyes and ears to understand. Moreover, reading is another method used often in L&D, which poses visual challenges and potential boredom. 

  1. Audio tends to be more convenient than other methods of learning because you can listen whilst doing other things. We commissioned an audio report which shows what individuals tend to do whilst listening to a podcast. 
Taken from Assemble You’s Audio Report 2019. 

Other research shows that millennials and Gen Z are 5% more likely to listen to podcasts for professional reasons compared to other generations. Podcasts are helpful in disseminating knowledge throughout the workplace, whether this is through learning and development or an internal podcast which keeps employees updated on important topics. 

Podcasts and audio-only learning can be listened to anywhere. So, if you commute by foot , train, or car you can listen to podcasts and tick off your professional development for the month before you even get to work! 

Against Audio Learning 

  1. There are some skills that can be difficult to learn without a physical or visual element, such as coding and technical topics which require you to be shown precisely how to do something. With topics such as these, it can be difficult as listening requires real-time interpretation and comprehension. It may mean that you end up listening to the podcast again and again, which isn’t an issue if it’s short; however, for longer pieces, you may not stick with it. 

  1. A study found that learning through reading gives a deeper understanding than just listening. It found that you can recall more details when oriented in the text or book. Also, when reading a book, you’re less likely to be multitasking, meaning all your attention is focused on the material. 

It’s also quicker to read than it is to read, as reading 300 words takes roughly 1 minute, whereas listening takes 150 words per minute. 

  1. You may find that your mind wanders off when listening to audio, especially long podcasts or learning content, which can mean you miss out on important information. A way to combat this is to listen to shorter pieces or pause when you find your mind wandering. 
Podcasts Can be More Convenient

So, Does Audio Learning Work? 

Like all things, some versions of audio are more effective than others for teaching. Our philosophy at Assemble You is to create audio specifically for the efficient transfer of knowledge and provide space for on-the-go reflection. As such, we have courses covering a wide variety of topics, including leadership development and self improvement porcasts, to help your employees become the best they can be. Check out our library here