Using podcasts for learning

Using podcasts for learning

Catching the bug


Last week a friend encouraged me to listen to the podcast series, This American Life. I’d heard of it from the only podcast series I’d ever listened to before – Serial. Inspired by my friend’s enthusiasm, I downloaded a free podcast app called Cast Box, subscribed to a few and started listening…


One week on and I’m hooked. This week I’ve learnt about: How sleep affects your health, The science of love, How people can change their behaviour and Why our decisions can be shaped by the order in which we make them. And I’ve learnt all this while on the bus home from the office.


The Learning Designer in me loves that I’m learning with very little effort and enjoying it at the same time. It’s a great learning experience. So naturally, I thought…


Are we under using podcasts in training?


Podcasts are often story-led, quite short, and the listener controls when and where they listen. We know these ingredients help create good learning experiences.


This Is Your Brain on Podcasts by Freakonomics Radio explains how a team of neuroscientists have watched the brain activity of people when they listen to podcasts. They’ve found that lots of areas of brain are active. Areas associated with memory, reasoning, emotion. People aren’t just listening, they are engaging with the content. The volunteers in the study didn’t even want paying for their time. They wanted to come and listen. How great would it be if your staff felt the same way about your company podcasts?


Imagine employees and experts sharing their stories and opinions on leadership, what makes a good manager and how to handle difficult conversations. You could create an episode about your company’s history with sound bites from senior leaders and vox pops from employees about why they love their job.


Making them work


What challenges might there be?


  • Keeping them secure – you wouldn’t want your business podcasts coming up in Google searches
  • How an employee gets the podcast onto their device – portability is one thing which makes them great
  • Creating engaging podcasts that people want to listen to


How can you get around these?


There are a few ways to get around the infrastructure challenges. You could:


  • Upload the podcasts as audio files to your LMS and change the permission on the file to allow learners to download it
  • Create a password protected app and upload podcasts there
  • Create a podcast and put the feed on your intranet
  • Create a secure, password protected site for the podcasts


The same ingredients that work for public podcasts could work for training too. So to create engaging podcasts you could:


  • Work with your internal multimedia, marketing and learning teams
  • Engage an external provider who can bring digital learning expertise to your organisation 🙂


And of course you can also listen to existing podcasts for inspiration. I’d love to hear your recommendations!

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