On the back of 2020 and a global pandemic, it’s fair to say that we’re all pretty tired of screentime. When Apple released screentime as a parental control feature in 2018, they may have had an inkling that we’d all be looking to live more in the analog world. Worries around how too much time in front of a screen might be bad for us aren’t unfounded, with research showcasing that spending seven or more hours in front of a screen leads to worsening depression and anxiety in kids. What does this mean for edTech and multi-media learning? Thankfully eLearning does not have to include a screen. Enter: screen-free learning. More specifically, enter audio courses.
What is Screen-Free Learning?
Screen-free learning is precisely what it sounds like, creating educational learning experiences that do not involve blue light and pixels. With most teens spending an average of 9 hours in front of a screen, there are rising parental concerns about continuing that trend within school walls. For all the myriad benefits of technology, always going back to a screen makes for just as lazy learning as always returning to books and chalk.
One school has gone as far as to build in at least one screen-free day a week. Screen-free days allow for hands-on experiences, especially in STEM fields.
That’s all well and good, but with much of the world still being reliant on working and learning from home, getting kids or adults to have hands-on learning experiences in a classroom is hard to come by. Thankfully, audio learning courses require no degree in education.
Auditory Learning Style
Auditory learning is a style of learning in which a learner learns best through hearing and listening. Those types of students who learn best through auditory learning will remember information far better when they are taught it via sound than when they are asked to retain something written.
- can easily remember things they’ve been told
- are good talkers
- have strong listening skills
- are often brilliant at oral exams
- can tell a story like nobody else
- benefit from reading information out loud when they must read it
- are often easily distracted by noises in the background
Audio and eLearning
A study has shown that groups of learners who learn through audio on their own perform an average of 64 percent better than those who acquire knowledge through a mix of both audio and visual instruction—excellent news for creating more screen-free learning for learners everywhere— no need to follow along on an iPad while your audio course plays.
Do you know what happened in 2004 that would alter the face of audio learning forever? Podcasting, previously known as audio blogging, became a thing. Today there are more than 115,000 English language podcasts available. When I become passionate about something new, the first thing I do is check the podcasting app of my choice to learn with the ease of plugging my headphones in.
Audio courses are a great way to create knowledge retention by building on this firm basis for humans wanting to learn via audio content.
Audio Course Don’ts:
- Don’t Talk at People: it’s essential to treat an audio course like an inviting, easy conversation at a dinner party. (I know, it’s been a while since I went to one of those, too.) If you’re at all able to, invite more than one voice to speak with you. A guest helps bring more ease to the course.
- Don’t Overwhelm: a two-hour course on quantum physics, all entirely conducted via audio, is a lot for most people to take in.
- Don’t Rely on Filler Words: “Ummm, erm…ah,” is a bit annoying when trying to concentrate on a topic to learn about. It’s the verbal equivalent of that weird mustard yellow tie your math teacher used to wear. Yes, the one all your friends made fun of.
Audio Course Dos:
- Do Keep Background Noise Down: hearing your next-door neighbor’s construction work pounding in their ears makes for very distracting learning.
- Do Use Music To Set the Mood: From the moment a learner tunes in to your course, you want them to be in the mood for learning. Music is an influential emotive factor to achieve this in 10 seconds or less.
- Do Find an LMS That Supports Audio: Audio courses are still somewhat of a rarity, ensure you’re ahead of the curve when it comes to picking a new LMS.
Advantages of Audio Courses
- Get Away From The Screens: virtual overwhelm is more of a buzzword than ever.
- Perfect for Auditory Learner: 30% of all learners are auditory. Audio Courses are an excellent way to appeal to them and help them retain information more easily.
- More Life-Like: Voices are powerful. With everyone missing the special touch of human connection, putting a voice into your learner’s ears is a powerful social connection.
Disadvantages of Audio Courses
- More Time and Money: audio courses are almost impossible to create as a team of one. It will require investing in high-quality equipment, scriptwriting, and voice acting talent.
- Not Accessible for All: More than 5% of people are deaf or hearing impaired. That’s a massive part of the population you can’t reach via an audio course. To make audio classes accessible to people with hearing disabilities, further investing in subtitles must be undertaken.
- Editing is Harder: When updating typed course content, editing is as simple as changing the text and clicking save. When editing an audio course, you need to re-invest all that previously mentioned time and money again.
Audio courses are part of the future of screen-free learning. When used thoughtfully and applied to suitable materials, they can make all the difference in engaging learners. If you feel hesitant about creating your eLearning audio courses, consider sending your learners in the direction of free audio learning courses hosted by Learn Out Loud, TED Audio Collective, and Open Culture.