Thursday, 13 October 2011

Studying with Podcasts

Studying for a professional business qualification using podcasts is becoming evermore popular. It’s an attractive alternative to traditional classroom courses that may be difficult to attend for a variety of reasons. And whilst there are many online training courses as another alternative, these require an internet connection and computer. There are often situations where you have neither of these. In fact, I wish that when I commuted into London by train and tube standing all the way, I could have made better use of my time keeping up with the latest techniques in project management.

But whilst podcasts certainly fill a gap in the arsenal of training tools, and provide an option for those unable to attend an instructor-led course, they do not necessarily provide a better or easier way of learning; particularly if you are studying for a serious professional qualification. However, if used to complement a traditional course or an online e-learning course, then they certainly are a very valuable tool in reaching your training objectives.

So if you are considering studying using podcasts then look out for those that are integrated with online or classroom modules and also provide written study guides or manuals.

There are, of course, a number of advantages to studying through podcasts:

  • You can study when and where you like; whilst travelling on trains or planes, whilst walking in the countryside or even while lying on the beach.  
  • It’s a fun way to learn so it's very motivating and effective.
  • It is less expensive than attending a traditional classroom-based course.  
  • It’s available anywhere, which is particularly relevant if you don't happen to live close to a training centre.  
  • There is access to the expertise of an instructor through email or community forums.

But there are also some disadvantages that you should consider:
  • It’s easy to just listen idly to the podcasts without actively studying the material.
  • You don’t have to engage with an instructor or other learners so there is no impetus to fully absorb the information.
  • You need an mp3 player! I wonder if there are any courses which offer the mp3 player for free as part of the course?
But overall, podcasts are an easy and exciting way to learn at your own pace and they are likely to become more and more popular and be more widely available.

Listen to this project management training podcast for a taste of what they are like or take a look at this article on project success for more inspiration.

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