How do you think the use of audio-only instruction will benefit teaching and learning? What do you think will be potential issues with the use of audio? How do you think it will impact your teaching and learning? What do you think is helpful about using audio? How do you think it differs from using images and text?
One of the benefits of using audio in teaching and learning is that if the speaker is directly in front of the person they can use voice cues and bodily cues to help translate the message. Research has shown that students retain more when listening than they do when reading in part because of the use of hand gestures and facial expressions (Barron, 2004). Lecture is a significant method for teaching in all grade levels and is a style of teaching that students are familiar and accustomed to, especially in the secondary and higher education. Another benefit of using audio only instruction is that with visually impaired learners, audio is significant communication source of information when learning. Cognitive research studies have also shown that the brain processes auditory information differently than visual information and that echoic, short-term auditory memory, is able to hold information longer than iconic, short-term visual memory (Barron, 2004).
Potential issues with audio are that if the person can only hear the speaker but not see the speaker they miss out on important visual cues. Some research has shown that learners who only listen to information and are not able to see the speaker perform poorer than those who can both see and hear the speaker (Barron, 2004). In addition, students who have poor reading comprehension levels perform poorly when it comes to audio only comprehension levels as the two are tied closely together (Barron, 2004). With hearing impaired learners, using audio only instruction requires that an American Sign Language translator be on hand to ensure that those learners are included in the instructional process.
When designing instruction using only audio, I, as the instructor, need to make sure that my voice is clear and well-modulated. I need to make sure that I do not speak too slowly or too fast and that I intersperse voice cues when speaking. I also need to make sure that I divide my instruction into short segments and not one long instruction set (Barron, 2004). It is easier on the learners if the instruction mimics the steps that they will follow and uses auditory and directional cues, such as step 1 and now play step 2 to move forward to the next step.
What I find helpful about audio is that it is comforting to me as a learner as it is a familiar process to listen to information. I am a fan of podcasts and talk radio, which both use audio only to disseminate information. I think it differs greatly from images and text in that it uses a different cognitive processing tract (Barron, 2004). Audio only instruction shares verbal instructions but without bodily cues or pictures. The learner can only listen to determine what the author is saying versus reading the text or viewing complementary images. In that aspect, it can be limiting to me as a learner as I also find images and text to be a helpful part of the learning process.
Overall, I think using audio is an important part of the instructional process. That being said, I do not believe that it should be the only method to teach learners, as it is too restricting. I feel that learners benefit from using a variety of instructional methods and relying on only one can be exclusive, which is the antithesis of true education.
Barron, A. E. (2004). Auditory instruction. In D. H. Jonassen (Ed.), Handbook of research on educational communications and technology (2nd ed.) (pp. 949–978). Mahwah, N. J.: Erlbaum.