As learning practitioners, we are continually looking for innovative ways to train employees and help them succeed at work. To ensure that we stay relevant in the eyes of our learners, we need to consider how they want to learn and engage them in learning throughout their workflow.
The ways our learners engage as consumers in the marketplace provide some powerful inspiration. Today, 96 percent of Americans have a cell phone, and there are 40,000 search queries on Google every second. If you don’t know how to do something, you just google it, get your answer, and move on.
As learning professionals we want to leverage that kind of behavior in the workplace; creating foundational training while also ensuring that learners seek our learning opportunities instead of just googling the answer. One response is effective microlearning.
Bring learning and work together
We must create learning that is available when learners need it, and in smaller pieces so they can consume it on the go. We must add microlearning opportunities to reinforce and enhance the learning experience for our learners. We need to give them the ability to learn as close to their real work as possible so they can get the information they need and perform successfully.
Think about how you learn. Rarely do you say that you must go through a formal training program to learn how to complete your real work tasks, right? It is time that we, as learning professionals, separate formal training and workflow learning—and treat them with equal importance. Don’t get me wrong—there is a lot of need for formal training that gives learners practice in foundational processes. But once those have been mastered learners need workflow learning, which is training in real-time that applies to the work that is actually happening.
One popular method of microlearning or just-in-time learning that is part of our strategy is podcasting. Podcasting entails creating a series of digital audio or video files that a user can download and listen to, on demand. Learners are familiar with this approach; 67 million people download and listen to podcasts every month. Chances are, your employees are already consuming podcasts on a regular basis.
Podcasts are an effective microlearning tool
Podcasting is a way to build strong connections and higher levels of engagement with your audience. Not only can learners subscribe to your podcast, they’ll get automatic notifications when there are new episodes as a small reminder to listen.
Connections grow when learners can listen to stories or lessons from others, case studies, and interviews. Organizational podcasts capture tribal knowledge. They are also a great way to reinforce key successes and illustrate lessons learned in your organization. Learners can replay each episode any number of times, on demand. That means that the vital SME content, stories, or lessons can be captured and live on beyond the experience itself.
By creating a podcast, you will be influencing the conversation happening in your organization. You can start a conversation, create connections among sometimes siloed groups, and encourage people to work together. Connections like these can elevate workplace performance through shared experiences, a common culture, and timely communication.
Podcasting is easy to set up—and you can get started very quickly and without a costly investment in equipment and infrastructure. You can start with just your phone or a common webinar platform; no advanced technical knowledge is required.
Getting started with your podcast
Follow these five steps, and you’ll be on the way to your first podcast series:
Determine the focus of your podcast. Is it to capture SME knowledge through interviews on key topics, teach people within their workflow, or communicate about what is new in the organization?
Determine who your target learners/listeners will be. You will want to be laser-focused on who they are, what motivates them, and what they specifically need to be successful. Look beyond what you will teach, and add more focus on how to engage your learner.
3. Timing & structure
What timing and structure will your show have? How long will each one be? Will new episodes come out daily? Weekly? Monthly? Determine this frequency by your capacity, the appetite of your learners, and the topic itself. The key is to be consistent.
4. Equipment & software
All you need is a laptop, microphone, and recording and editing software. (Your phone likely already has a microphone and recording/editing software.) When you begin, start with what you have, and invest in more sophisticated equipment as you go. If you are planning on doing interviews, you will want to have a recording platform. I’ve compiled a list to get you started.
5. Follow the 5-step “publish your podcast” process
- Record: Consider your first episodes as practice so you can find your voice.
- Edit your podcast and add an intro and outro.
- Export the file as an mp3 and upload it to a media host (such as anchor.fm).
- Schedule your release date, publish it, and submit your podcast to directories (if applicable). Repeat this process on the timing schedule you established.
- Promote your podcast through your internal social media and communication channels.
Once you get going, you can use your podcast to record SME interviews—which can be a very easy way to work with them and present their content to learners—or create episodes of educational programming.
Consistently implemented, your podcast can increase your ability to influence and engage your learners. Imagine the results if your employees were listening to your content while they were working out or commuting every day.
You’ll also learn why just cutting your content into micro units isn’t enough and how to craft effective microlearning experiences. The conference will explore the use of video, PowerPoint, and even voice assistants to create and deploy innovative and effective microlearning solutions. Registration is open.