Methods of Delivery

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If I want to provide a training course to help people to write, record and produce audio drama, I will have to consider the methods of delivery available to me. What formats can be used to lay down advice and guidance that will be most effective for the client? The internet offers us the freedom to create and distribute information that can help others.

The main categories I’d like to consider as options are;

1. Audio (Podcasts or audiobooks)

2. Written (Blogs, ebooks, or email courses)

3. Visual (Video)

Audio

As the ultimate aim of my work is to help people to produce audio content, doing so through the medium of audio seems like a legitimate and relevant option. I found a great guide on ‘Using audio in teaching & learning‘ on the Jisc Digital Media website.

“Audio…demonstrated a capacity to facilitate authentic engagement, allowing students to connect in various ways to the outside world, both as listeners and publishers. The ease and speed with which digital audio can be deployed was used to support timely interventions and in some cases promoted information currency and responsiveness.”

Beyond podcasting: creative approaches to designing educational audio ALT-J, Research in Learning Technology, Andrew Middleton p153″

The benefits of learning through audio can be paralleled with the benefits of producing your fiction in an audio format. The flexibility and access to the student is vastly increased once you remove the need for visual engagement (you can’t drive a car whilst reading a book or watching a video, for example). The student can continue to learn whilst doing other tasks (driving, walking, working in the garden, the gym, etc) and the subconscious can be a very powerful thing when it comes to taking in and processing information (we’ll deal with this in more detail in another entry).

Of course, audio also has its limitations. Often the most simple way to demonstrate something is visually, especially when tackling some of the more technical areas of a training course. It can also be tricky to ‘bookmark’ or revisit an interesting chapter without the visual aspect, and considering the fact that the student might also be ‘on the move’ at the time.

Written

Announcing that you are “writing a book” probably doesn’t carry the same shock value than it would have twenty years ago. Nowadays, the need for a publishing deal, along with the printing, distribution, etc, have since been downgraded to a luxuries rather than necessities. This should be looked upon as a positive, as just because a particular subject maybe doesn’t have the mass appeal or potential audience that it will sell millions of copies (and make lots of profit for a publisher) it may still be extremely appealing, useful, and relevant to small niche audiences of under five hundred people.

I found this blog post on ‘tips for writing instructional and training material’ very helpful. What is interesting about most of the points made here is that they are not limited to the written form, and would still apply to both audio and video training.

Written training does offer some fantastic and unique benefits. It allows the student to progress at his or her own pace, reading and re-reading anything they feel it necessary to revisit. When you are reading something, it has far more chance of having your undivided attention than listening to an audio course whilst also carrying out other unrelated tasks at the same time. A book is also not limited to writing, but offers a platform to provide diagrams, screenshots, examples, graphs etc. Though not as free flowing as a video walkthrough, this is still an area where written training can trump audio training.

Video

Video training has exploded in recent years. If there’s something you really need to learn to do, and quickly (anything from change a tyre to unblocking a drain) you will find countless tutorials on video hosting platforms like Youtube. There’s a really informative ‘Five steps to creating video tutorials’ guide on idratherbewriting.com, and as we’ve touched on in the sections above, video tutorials are probably the simplest and most direct way of demonstrating how to do something on a practical level.

I’d say that video falls down a bit when it comes to the more in-depth, theoretical aspects of training. In many cases, the video format becomes unnecessary and even distracting once you reach the stage where practical demonstrations are no longer required. Video training has enormous benefits, but these are better harnessed to compliment other forms of learning, rather than replace them entirely.

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