In an employment contract with an organisation some time ago, I remember trawling Yammer one morning while having breakfast at my desk. I came across an internal business colleague who had asked the community about the best way to share his experiences about his work and wondered how to create an audio podcast.
This started a lengthy discussion across the organisation on Yammer. Munching on my vegemite toast, I sat back and read responses from people who shared their love of podcasts they listened to and who could help him in his request.
Learning & Development was not mentioned once in the threaded replies.
I turned to my colleagues and asked them to get on Yammer. I wanted them to read the threads so that they could see for themselves what people were asking for when it came to content created by employees for employees. After all, here was an opportunity where we could support and guide a business colleague to work out loud so that the entire organisation receive value from his stories and experience.
This was social learning in action. Learning from and with each other through sharing stories and experiences of the work and the workplace.
As someone who likes to dabble in a variety of different social and content tools, I saw how I could help this person and knew what was possible and what was not. To me, the issue was not how to create the podcast (that’s easy, you can record the audio via your phone); it wasn’t the editing (again, there are software programs that you can do this like Audacity and GarageBand); nor was it training the person (mind blowing amount of online resources) or the employee’s motivation (he actually asked to learn a new skill).
No, the difficulty was that he was asking for it to be accessible for mobiles and seamless in the way employees access it to hear anytime, anywhere, and in any way.
So the firewall was going to be a little bit of an issue. Added to the fact that when you create the podcast, where does it actually sit so that users can access it? That is, it needs to sit on some sort of platform behind the firewall especially if information confidential to business is going to be talked about.
Creating content like podcasts using consumer technology is easier and seamless than with enterprise technology – and let’s face it, consumer tech is also far simpler, intuitive and easy to use. It’s also more aesthetically pleasing and considers the user in the design.
What Did I Do?
My first response was to ping Marketing into the Yammer conversation because my assumption was that they would have a platform by which to launch audio and video podcasts for customers. If it’s not Marketing, it’s the Corporate Communications teams who are responsible for creating talking head videos of the CEOs and senior leaders.
Our learning management system was another possibility but only if audio files could be uploaded or the function for audio was activated.
I’m dubious of offering learning management systems as solutions for holding audio or video content because I’ve never worked on one that was not a most cumbersome and frustrating experience. Similarly, if it requires multiple log ons to get to the content you needed, sits behind a firewall, is not accessible via a mobile app, or has most of the functions deactivated so that it is a “dumb player”, it is not only useless, but embarrassing to offer as a potential solution.
People want simple, easy, seamless access to audio content and with a few swipes and taps.
Although we didn’t have a solution for this person, I knew that there had to be someone in the company who had a sideline gig or their own podcast channel who could help give him some tips on podcasting.
(I’ve been around in organisations to realise that a majority of employees are running their own businesses or sideline gigs outside of their 9 to 5 and who have broad knowledge, skills and talents outside of work that employers don’t know about or under-utilise because they’ve boxed into specific job descriptions).
Sure enough, there was.
Someone who had their own podcast channel and thriving online community around it, offered to provide him with personal one-on-one coaching and tuition on creating, running and publishing his own podcast. The issue of where this audio content would sit could be figured out at a later stage.
What Happened Next?
I never did get to find out if in the end this person created and disseminated his podcasts across the company because my contract ended however, it did make me think that we are now entering the era of “employee generated content” and how Learning and Development can help the business do this.
After all, people are becoming frustrated with enterprise systems that they can’t use like they do their consumer technology.
Recently I’ve started dabbling again with Anchor. I downloaded it over a year ago and promptly discarded it because it sounded like I was listening to a telephone conversation rather than the quality editing of a radio show or podcast. Instead, I focussed my time on Snapchat instead.
However, Anchor has had a delightful upgrade and it’s made me rethink its value.
Not only does it have a sleek and funky user interface, it has improved its audio quality and provides the user with more options to create their own radio show without the need to spend time learning how to podcast, use editing software nor spend money on expensive microphones.
Touted as the Snapchat for Audio (please don’t let this put you off), it provides the user with a simple, seamless and easy way to create and publish their own podcasts.
These podcasts (audio clips) last for 24 hours on your channel after which they are archived (which means that your audience cannot see these on your channel but you can).
You can ‘pick and mix’ audio clips to create episodes (think of them as a collection or ‘playlist’) which can then be published as audio files, exported, shared to public media or uploaded to podcast channels on iTunes and Google Play.
Recording audio is as simple as tapping on the red microphone button or holding up the phone to your ear as if you’re taking a phone call. You can add background music to your recorded audio to set a mood for your clips.
You can interview people by calling them on your phone and Anchor records the entire conversation which you can add to your podcast.
After every interview, you also receive a transcript that you can use for additional content. (I’m thinking for workplace learning, these could be job aides). Another benefit is that people can call in and leave messages and comments that you can add to your podcast. (Hey, presto, there’s your Question and Answer session).
Learning at Work Applications
My mind is reeling with potential learning at work opportunities that this tool can be used:
- Interviews with leaders and managers
- Capture key reflections of participants before, during and after learning programs
- Q&A panel sessions
- Interviews with Business Experts
- Business Unit News and Updates
- Working out loud through an implementation of a project
- Interviews with conference participants
- Conference Radio or Podcast Channel for delegates
- …and so much more.
In my work, many people have told me of their reluctance to use video to show and share their work, reflections and stories of workplace learning. However, audio podcasts may be a way to overcome this fear and anxiety.
Although it’s still early days for me with Anchor, I decided to do something completely different.
Rather than use it to talk about Learning and Development (after all, I’m sharing this content across multiple platforms), I wanted a fun topic which allowed me to practice my “radio voice” and perfect how I present my voice through this medium. I decided to create a podcast that was less than 5 minutes which was focussed on interesting bits of Australian history and trivia – and short enough to listen in the toilet if you had to.
This will allow me to not only have fun with this new tool but to also understand how it works and see context and application for workplace learning. Although I doubt I will continue this for the long term, it is a bit of fun for the moment as well as the perfect solution for those who want to work out loud by sharing their story without the fear of having to worry about how they look like on screen.
If you want to hear the podcast of my Australianisms…
Have you tried Anchor?