So by now, chances are you’ve tried, or at least heard about, podcasting for learning. Whether you’re publishing content specifically as podcasts, extracting audio from existing e-learning courseware or interviewing lines of business asking them to share their stories, you’re probably well aware of the benefits of audio-based learning.
If you’re considering incorporating stories and interviews into your e-learning, but haven’t known where to begin, StoryCorps might offer you everything you need to get started.
What is StoryCorps?
The heart of StoryCorps is the conversation between two people who are important to each other: a son asking his mother about her childhood, an immigrant telling his friend about coming to America, or a couple reminiscing on their 50th wedding anniversary. By helping people to connect, and to talk about the questions that matter, the StoryCorps experience is powerful and sometimes even life-changing.
Just as powerful is the experience of listening. Whenever people listen to these stories, they hear the courage, the humor, the trials and triumphs of an incredible range of voices.
By listening closely to one another, we can help illuminate the true character of this nation reminding us all just how precious each day can be and how truly great it is to be alive.
To get an idea of how powerful these stories can be, check out their home page and listen to some samples.
Do It Yourself
StoryCorps has declared today, November 28, a National Day of Listening. To support and encourage everyone to participate, they’ve put together a free, Do-It-Yourself, guide that includes everything you need to get started with audio interviewing.
- Selecting a storyteller
- Creating list of questions
- Purchasing vs borrowing recording equipment
- Choosing locations
- Setting up and testing your equipment
- Begging the conversation
- Keeping the conversation flowing
- Wrapping it up
- Preserving and sharing the conversation
Most importantly, they offer a Question Generator including a “Great Questions List“. In it, they’ve created common questions around the most important family topics.
Corporate E-learning Possibilities
How can StoryCorps support your corporate podcasting for e-learning initiative?
From an instructional design perspective, we can appreciate the well-crafted, open-ended nature of the questions. Part of our job is to get SMEs to talk, open up and share their knowledge and experience. This is nothing new for us. What is new, however, is our intent to capture their answers in their own words, not ours.
Groups with the most to gain from audio-based interviews:
- Sales training – Sales leaders can share their best practices and techniques. This is definitely an area that doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all training program. New hires could listen to interviews from top producers to gain context around possible sales techniques and approaches.
- Leadership and Executive dialogues – Leadership training, like most soft skill training, is often most powerful through stories, scenarios and examples from actual leaders. While with a former company, we interviewed dozens of current and former CEOs around ethics and leadership topics. They would share their own ethical challenges and experiences and, occasionally, mistakes they made. This made the interviews all the more powerful.
- Production and pipeline management – This is another great opportunity to let experts in the field share their knowledge and best practices.
How could a similar approach be used in your organization to capture knowledge, stories and best practices?
One of the benefits of audio-based interviews for learning is its authenticity. It’s one thing for an ID to interview SMEs and rework their answers back into a course. It’s quite another experience for learners when they hear it first-hand from the SMEs.
Another benefit, from a rapid e-learning perspective, is the ability to produce audio courses considerably faster than traditional e-learning courses. Once you establish your interview format, style guide and standard questions, you have what you need to develop audio interviews based on breaking news or policy changes.
And another benefit is that audio-based interviews offer an alternative to traditional e-learning. Audio interviews, podcasts, stories are an engaging way to augment current e-learning offerings. They could also be used as a first-response to breaking news or policy changes while the final, more complete e-learning course is developed.
Transcribing the Recordings
Audio stories are powerful, but there’s great value in supporting as many channels of distribution as possible, so consider transcribing your recordings.
This might even be a requirement for HR and Legal as they’ll probably want to know exactly what is being shared.
There are a lot of companies who offer these services and prices are reasonable. Here are two I know colleagues have worked with:
Here’s a short list of valuable resources both on mobile learning as well as storytelling. Please feel free to share your own resources.
- E-learning Guild’s Mobile Learning Report – All things mobile learning
- This American Life – One of the best-produced examples of first-person storytelling
- Ira Glass on Storytelling – Interviews with Ira Glass on his approach to storytelling
- Web Strategy by Jeremiah – Corporate Podcasting Strategies provides solid guidance for possible challenges, pitfalls and evolution