November 18, 2022

Since the health crisis, the use of audio-learning (the training podcast) has exploded. Complementary to training formats, audio accompanies daily life without interrupting it. An asset, among others... A look at the advantages of audio in learning.

March 2020, France is confined. While everything stops, audio explodes: more than 900,000 podcasts are created in 2020, three times more than in 2019. Audio is becoming a permanent fixture in the consumption habits of the French and affects all areas: news, business, entertainment ... Training is no exception.

Audio training, also known as audiolearning, is characterized by two major markets: the audiobook and the podcast. At the end of September 2022, Spotify, a heavyweight in the audio industry, announced that it would make more than 300,000 audiobooks available to its American users, thus competing with the leader Audible. An offer that will soon arrive in France, where the number of audio-readers has reached 10 million in 2021 according to the Syndicat National de l'Édition.

The learning podcast is also positioning itself as a reference format for learners. With nearly 200 million podcasts listened to each month in France, audio learning podcasts represent an opportunity for trainers.

The training podcast, an effective teaching tool

Audiolearning is a real attention-getter. It is an educational format that is accessible to the greatest number of people in the company and allows listeners to develop different levels of listening and concentration.

Audio adapts to learners' attention span

The affinity for e-learning tools will depend on each individual according to the senses he or she uses most naturally. However, audio has an advantage: according to neuroscientists at the University of California at Berkeley, it stimulates the same cognitive and emotional parts of the brain as reading, for much less effort.

This is an asset that gives it a significant flexibility at a time when work is becoming hybrid and employees are becoming nomadic. Since the health crisis, more than one employee in three has been teleworking (according to the Malakoff Humanis Telework and Hybrid Organizations 2022 barometer). Listening everywhere, at any time, means being able to learn in all circumstances.

Depending on the podcast learning model, the type of pedagogy can involve different levels of listening: passive with the sole transmission of knowledge, or active with exercises to practice.

  • If a podcast is listened to as a supplement to a side activity, passive listening is preferred. The listener records information effortlessly and in a variable state of concentration. The message is distributed in a top-down communication, which does not expect any reaction from the listener.
  • If the listening is fully active, the listener is engaged in what the speaker is saying and his or her analytical, reflective or empathetic mind is mobilized. This is the kind of podcast that is used to learn languages or work on one's memory, for example.

Audio increases learners' memorization

Fleming's VAK learning model recognizes four learning styles: visual, physical, social and audio. According to this model, 30% of the population has a greater facility with audio learning.

Nevertheless, according to Christophe Rodo, a neuroscience researcher, "there is no evidence to suggest that there is a privileged relationship between a preferred sensory modality and a more effective method of instruction. " More than in the format, the memorial interest of audio lies in its use. Listening to a podcast lends itself to movement, a key to memorization as described in Sharon L. Bowman's book "6 trumps of learning". It also associates well with anchoring techniques such as writing, drawing or verbalizing aloud; and activates the phenomenon of memorization by association: remembering information by the atmosphere or the context in which it was heard.

This ease of memorization is reinforced by the voice, which generates emotions and spontaneity, as well as by the conversational mode, which makes it necessary to simplify complex subjects.

The right to disconnect tool

The aspirations of new generations of employees are shaking up relationships at work. The craze for telecommuting, the aspiration for a more balanced life, the quest for meaning... A trend not without consequence on the being at work and to which audiolearning adapts well.

Audio-learning is taking its place at the heart of corporate training.
Audio-learning is taking its place at the heart of corporate training.

Disengaged learning

A study by Makers and Ifop published in November 2022, points to "a real distancing, and more and more working people saying that they will work mainly for the money while doing 'just the right thing' in the professional context".

This exhaustion in professional commitment requires a review of internal communication tools to avoid a feeling of over-solicitation from employees. Unlike video, which illustrates through images, podcasts appeal to the listener's imagination. It makes listening a commitment that does not say its name, as an invitation to reflection and the awakening of curiosity. Audiolearning offers a wide range of inspiration, reflection and discernment.

At the same time, it avoids the excessive use of screens (3 hours per day on average in France), and creates an authentic link between the voice and its listener. The person who leads an audio training session can thus inspire, question his or her own convictions, initiate new actions and accompany an employee in taking up new duties or changing jobs. More than a learning tool, audiolearning accompanies.

The training podcast, a complementary tool

The diversity of training content is the strength of a successful training. Audio learning complements other learning methods. Thanks to its flexibility, accessibility and authenticity, it offers a breath of fresh air alongside traditional content.

"French employees and oral communication: new relationships, new stakes?", the study conducted in January 2021 by Occurence and Médiameeting, reveals that 80% of employees expect technical audio content from their company. According to them, this is a way for managers to embody, stimulate and communicate efficiently.

Moreover, if audiolearning is listened to according to the availability and desires of each collaborator, it creates links: 82% of listeners say they talk about the podcasts they listen to with their entourage (Havas/CSA Paris Podcast Festival 2021).

This study reveals the power of audio in its ability to envisage new perspectives after listening: the podcast has already led 74% of its regular listeners to change their view on a subject (according to a survey conducted by Havas and CSA at the Paris Podcast Festival 2021). The use of voice and its nuances contribute greatly to this.

Podcast learning is a good way to train employees in the technologies and new business developments of tomorrow. Its mobile format enhances the employee experience, increases engagement and contributes to the gamification of e-learning formats. Audio is a real asset for meeting the new training challenges of today and tomorrow.


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