Creating Audio-based media programs for learning

Audio-based learning programs

A brief scan of the radio dial illustrates the power of audio as a communication media — news and talk programs, National Public Radio magazine style programs, commercials, etc.  The popularity of podcasts and audio books suggests that workers are looking for productive ways to use their commuting time.

Learning professionals can leverage this low cost media option as an innovative method for transmitting information to their organization’s staff.  Audio is relatively simple to produce, and can be distributed via podcasts, CDs, MP3s posted on a website, etc.  Audio programs can be easily and conveniently reviewed by busy employees, hard to reach road warriors, long-term on-site consultants, and everyone else on your staff.  Almost any category of employee can benefit from this effective and compelling training medium.

Audio program content examples

Audio-based learning programs can be composed of any combination of the following elements:

  • Moderated panel discussions can be arranged quickly, and require minimal up-front instructional design labor. Just identify the discussion topics, brief the panelists on the objectives of the discussions, schedule a room, and bring the recording equipment. Also consider including an audience that can prompt the panel with questions and issues. This often helps increase the discussion’s authenticity and relevance.  After the discussion is recorded, the ID can use low cost audio editing software to edit the content of the discussion, to improve the content flow and delete dead space and errors.
  • Individual interviews are also easy to design and arrange.  Identify the topics, select an appropriate subject matter expert, and record his/her comments.  Then edit to produce a tight and compelling presentation.
  • Narrated, scripted segments can be used to deliver detailed information on specific topics, explain complicated issues, or describe a current situation. These types of scripted segments are best delivered by a professional narrator or staff member with a professional sounding voice, or by someone within your organization that can add special credibility to the message.
  • Scenarios can be used to model appropriate behaviors. For example, you can provide the audience with a series of scenarios depicting sales or support interactions with typical customers. These can be actual recordings, or simulated performances using your staff or voice actors to play the roles.
  • Telephone conferences can be included when historically important or especially suitable for the topic, however, the lower quality audio of a typical telephone conference may make these elements less desirable.
  • Use scripted narration to deliver introductions and tie together segments, and music to help identify transitions.
  • Commercials for your products and services can provide breaks in the narrative. Mock commercials can provide opportunities for humor to make the program more entertaining.
  • Humor and fun segments can also be interspersed to increase the entertainment value and lighten the mood.

When creating audio programs for your organization, always keep your audience in mind, and strive to create an entertaining and informative program that will capture and maintain their interest.