Following the pandemic, there has been a much expected rise of online or hybrid learning. Teachers and lecturers were finally supported, and gently nudged by the learning institutions that employ them, to create online content that students can consume in the safety of their homes. There was a rise in formal video educational content, and even though this may work for many students, there is still room for further improvement and facilitation of a fully democratized learning environment. The area we see more room for growth and improvement is audio. In particular, the leveraging of technology in order to turn the world of text-based learning resources into audio that can be consumed in a far less screen-intensive experience.
The rise of the most recent boom in audio was greatly driven through the increased distribution and economic accessibility of phones and technological devices like tablets and smart watches. However, this increased access to devices was not the only reason, as the whole audio market is a bit of a chicken and egg space. Bates, a researcher into educational technology, in his e-book about teaching in the digital age has found that all of these devices had the necessary technology to facilitate easily creating audio content. He also states that these hardware developments and the increased ease of creating content would have had no impact had there not been the increases in internet speeds. This global connectivity allowed people to stream music and audio wherever they are, because let's be honest, nobody can carry disks upon disks or shelves of cassettes in their pocket.
So with those technological developments came the rise of podcasts, audiobooks and audio articles which are currently the most commonly used methods of educational audio consumption and are continuing to grow in use and popularity.
The increase in these three core content areas has been growing over the last three years. According to the Edison Research report “The Infinite Dial 2021”, around 193 million people in the US are monthly online audio listeners. The research reports that these figures have been rising historically and the group that has the highest proportion of their population listening to online are 12-34 year olds, of whom a steady 86% are monthly online audio listeners compared to the national 68% of the population who are monthly listeners.
With all of the stars aligning in the favor of audio learning, we still see a predominance of visual learning in the preferences of people. As such we wanted to share the benefits of using audio learning resources. They are as such:
Audio is complementary to other mediums - audio versions of texts greatly complement the visual elements of a reading. Bates explains that audio resources will allow you to engage with a text in a novel way that allows you, as a learner, to get a refreshingly new perspective on the content.
Better consumption - Harrigan, in his research into learning technology uncovered that audio versions of information are also found to be easier to consume relative to visual versions of the same content.
Greater flexibility - you can listen to the audio version of something wherever you are or even while doing other tasks that require physical activity. As similar to the way you can communicate while doing manual tasks, you can also listen to resources and be able to learn while even at the gym.
Repetition - the ease and speed of repetition is seen to have a positive impact on your retention of information. As explained by Murphy and her peers, in their research about the impact of the speed of content consumption, there is a clear performance benefit in being able to quickly go over material more than once as it improves retention.
Low requirement of technological resources - audio resources have low bandwidth requirements compared to videos or images. Bates, in his e-book, explains the importance of internet in audio and how audio allows learners to gain access to learning in poor internet environments.
So do you currently use any audio in your learning? Atlas Primer allows you to make the most of your own text-based resources. The app allows you to create your own audio learning environment with courses that match what you may yourself be learning. We also have a personal assistant interface that allows you to use atlas primer to listen to audio versions of your texts or go through your created audio flashcards in the comfort of your bedroom or home.