I admit it: I have no idea what is currently in the top 40’s on the radio.
Partly this is because there is bad reception in my area, but that helped me become a podcast convert. My driving time is now filled with fascinating topics from military tactics to organic gardening as I tune into a collection of podcasts based on my mood and drive time.
The word podcast originally came from the blending of “audio broadcasting” and “iPod”. I am grateful that podcasting has lasted longer than my iPod! In fact, it has really taken off with multiple software options for creators, multiple sources for seekers and an almost unlimited variety of topics available for your listening pleasure. Although the idea has been around for years now, 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.
- Flexible learning – Help cater to those people with time to spare driving, or who can close their eyes on the plane/train and tune in for some learning time. Learners can work at their own pace, starting and stopping when necessary and replaying key points of the podcast as they feel necessary
- Aural learning preferences – There are some people who actually learn better when they can hear concepts explained as part of a conversation. For learners with literacy issues, the spoken word will also make it easier to take in the content.
- Cheaper and easier than other learning technology options – A microphone (or Skype) and a computer is basically all you need to create a podcast. It is comparatively fast, easy and inexpensive compared to full-blown e-learning courses.
- Easy Access – If you have some way to play music on your computer or mobile device, you can listen to podcasts. They can be downloaded or streamed, which helps those with slow bandwidth or limited data plans.
- Expert Access – Podcasting can empower knowledgeable people within our organisation as well as external experts to share their skills and knowledge in a way that many people can benefit.
- Controlled Access – Podcasts can be shared publicly through iTunes and other sites or privately through an internal network/intranet.
- Ongoing Access – Learners can subscribe to a feed, meaning content is pushed to them as it becomes available.
As with anything, there are so many ways people can learn and so many ways we can offer training. We need to be realistic about how best we expend our training energies, but it is worth considering podcasting as a tool to add to the current mix.
Option One: Those of us with less than zero time available
There is already a variety of podcasts available that can be referenced for use. You can search for particular key words, or you can subscribe to a feed from a particular source. You can recommend podcasts to learners or include links to podcasts that may interest them. Some to check out from an emergency services and training perspective:
- Emergency Management Australia
- Emergency Management Connection (US/Global Based)
- Disaster Podcast (US Based)
- Army Training and Doctrine Podcast
- House of #EdTech Podcast
Option Two: Those of us who want to give it a go
As mentioned above, if you have a microphone or are using Skype and have a computer that can create audio tracks you are set!
LifeHacker has a great set of instructions about how to get going.
Think about if you are creating some one-off resources, or if this is going to be an ongoing thing you want to commit to.
- You could start by recording some appropriate sessions at a conference or training day, making learning available to those who couldn’t get there. Creating a podcast to support the roll out of a new skill/topic/procedure could work well.
- If you are interviewing someone for a particular focus, have an idea of what exactly you want to cover. Just like any training session, you want to plan it out so learners get the best from it.
- Think about focusing on a person or a role, and using a FAQ format, with questions possibly even collected from people that will be listening to the podcast.
Option Three: Those of us who want to make a bigger impact
If you plan on making podcasting a long term and regular thing, be prepared to commit.
- It is probable that you can’t manage it all yourself, so get together a committed team of people that will make it work. Listeners tend to stop listening when there is no regular updates and new material.
- Share your idea with higher levels of the organisation – maybe this is something that can be supported at a state level?
- Take advantage of all the expertise floating around the organisation. There are likely many people that could contribute content to a podcast.
- Have an ideas list that is constantly added to and prepare content in advance so there is always new stuff being readied for release.
- Have a mechanism to collect feedback from learners about what works, what doesn’t and what they would like to learn more about.
Share What You Know
What podcasts are you currently listening to? Share the gems!