In the age of iPods and podcasts, many instructions have been converted to audio-only format to accommodate mobile learning and learning on-the-go. Learners now listen to instruction while driving, flying, exercising, or completing household chores. The flexibility of having instruction delivered to learners orally while they multi-task appeals to many in the Net generation. Audio instruction leaves the learners hands free for hands-on application of the instruction. Learners with visual or learning disabilities may also benefit from audio delivery of instruction.
Some potential issues with audio-only instruction include delivery to learners with hearing impairments and learners whose learning preferences include visual or tactile learning modes. The instruction may become distracting if sound effects or music is overused or used inappropriately and does not add value to the instruction.
This is my first venture into a podcast or audio-only instruction. I have often incorporated audio as a medium into instructions containing other media but I see the value in this medium by itself and expect that if I am successful in creating this instruction, I might produce other podcast instructions.
Audio instruction involves careful scripting and thorough attention to detail, similar to text-only instruction. Additionally, inflection and tone become important as they help convey your message to your learners. With audio instruction, you can convey meaning through your voice which is impossible to convey via printed words. Some added benefits include the use of sound effects to add effect or assist the learner with understanding, and the use of music when appropriate. These elements can be used to excess and become distractions, so they must be used appropriately and in moderation. When all these elements are appropriately combined, the effect can be more powerful than text-only instruction, and is more portable and convenient than other forms of instruction. Add to that the benefit of having your hands free for hands-on learning, and this form of instruction becomes even more appealing.