With more organizations adopting their own learning management system, the traditional style of creating and distributing knowledge is being redefined.
Whether it’s corporate training course or classroom pedagogy, interactive tools like LMSs and Web 2.0 technologies are seeing an end to the days in which one person dominated the floor and simply dispensed information to an all-ears audience. Now learners’ ears can finally join forces with their eyes, mouths and hands.
This isn’t to say that instructional design–the curriculum-based pedagogy in which one person dispenses information and others receive it–has no rightful place in a learning system. While the shift from lectures to hands-on learning and collaboration opens new educational possibilities, straightforward lectures are a vital aspect of any educational format. Lectures lay the framework for students to work their own way through the course material.
In a training course hosted via a learning management system, lectures can be presented in a number of ways. Information can be laid out on a web page, in a downloadable packet, or presented via audio or video. Links to related resources and other websites can be inserted. Short, to-the-point lectures provided in the learning management system create a lesson that both informs learners about the key points, and aids them in finding related information.
Podcasts are one exciting format with an array of educational possibilities. Podcasts are convenient and optimally portable, and appeal to many learning styles. They can be used to supplement and reinforce course learning material, or renew learning activities. They can serve as announcements, reminders, and updates to be heard by everyone using the learning management system.
Podcasts can be used to distribute interviews and discussions, or to inform learners what to expect in the next lesson or activity. They are easy to create, produce, and share, and listeners don’t need an iPod to listen to them. Podcasts are typically in the form of mp3 files, making them accessible to all learners.
What are the criteria for a good podcast? Topics depend on the learning content of your training course or the functions you’ve assigned to the podcasts within your learning management system.
Especially if the content is more technical or number-oriented, keep each podcast at 5 to 10 minutes. Many listeners who don’t have an excessive amount of time to spare generally avoid long texts, courses, etc. Small installments of learning content are ideal.
The content of a podcast depends on the course material. Providing intriguing material that piques listeners’ interest is essential to any podcast. Otherwise, your listeners’ attention will begin to slip. True, choosing material that’s interesting is a matter of taste and opinion, but the way in which you present the information can make or break your podcast’s effectiveness.
Remember that listeners respond well to audio information that varies in texture and tone. Interspersing music, pieces of interviews, sound bites, etc. throughout is a great way to lend texture and continuity to your podcast. Additionally, make sure the speaker doesn’t sound like he or she is reading from a script. The dialogue should sound conversational. The listener should feel like the podcaster is speaking directly to him or her.
Interested in adding podcasts to your course material? Creating a podcast is easy using Apple’s Podcast Producer, a simple and automatic audio editing program. Using group communication such as Google groups, social networking sites and wikis, in combination with a learning management system, trainers have an array of tools at hand.
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