How Businesses and Educators Are Using Podcasts to Meet the Needs of Today’s Learners


Podcasting was once an obscure medium reserved only for the most technologically forward-thinking consumers. Today, not only are podcasts mainstream, they’re increasingly becoming a regular part of many American lifestyles.

Overall Statistics on Increase in Podcast Listening

See how podcast consumption among Americans (age 12 or older) continues to increase year over year…

  • Percentage who’ve ever listened to a podcast







  • Percentage who’ve listened to a podcast in the last month







  • Percentage who listen to a podcast weekly








Popularity of Educational Podcasts

Research indicates that podcast listeners are especially savvy and hungry to learn. Consider that, as of January 2018, almost all of the top-rated podcasts are educational in nature. Podcasts like This American Life, NPR, HowStuffWorks, New York Times, Wondery, and American Public Media consistently dominate the top rankings and receive millions of downloads per month.

Podcasts with educational content have high value with teachers. More and more of them are incorporating the podcast medium into their lesson plans and extra credit assignments. Washington Post reporter Lillian Cunningham realized this after launching her Presidential podcast, which takes an in-depth look at the lives of all the U.S. presidents. While creating the podcast on behalf of the Post, Cunningham received numerous letters from teachers thanking her for the content and sharing how each episode provided an invaluable supplement to their U.S. history lesson.

Some teachers are even taking a proactive approach to the podcasting medium. For instance, Michael Godsey is a California-based ELA teacher and writer for The Atlantic. Inspired by his love of the popular Serial podcast, Godsey began developing and using podcasts to better connect with his students. His efforts have been so successful that Godsey now develops podcasts and podcast lesson plans for teachers around the country.

The Convenience Factor

listening to business podcasts3Podcasts are in high demand because they provide information in a way that’s succinct, entertaining, and easily digestible. They also give learners the freedom to consume information at a time and place that is convenient for them. According to the monthly podcast listeners in the Edison Research study:
  • 84% have listened to a podcast at home
  • 65% have listened while driving
  • 39% have listened at work
  • 42% have listened while walking
  • 29% have listened at the gym
  • 29% have listened while using public transportation
In addition, many listeners use their mobile devices to listen to podcasts with an app like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartRadio, or Stitcher. Because listeners aren’t confined to any single location or time frame, they’re able to consume greater amounts of information in a manner that works with their lifestyle and schedule.

Podcasts in Employee Training

Since a growing number of people like to learn by podcast, it makes sense that they would become part of an organization’s training tool chest. They fill many important requirements:

  1. Podcasts are cost-effective to produce, and they can be preserved and revisited for years to come.  In many cases, podcasts from outside sources are free or available for purchase via a low-cost subscription.
  2. Podcasts promote micro-learning, a method of learning in which information is presented in short, regular intervals. This type of learning makes the transfer of learning more efficient, creates more engagement, and today's learners prefer it.* Major corporations from Walmart to Bloomingdales are now incorporating micro-learning methods for employee training.

    Podcasting is a highly effective micro-learning solution because it provides episodic content segmented into short and information-dense learning bites. Because each learning topic has its own episode (or episodes), it’s easy to provide employees with just the subject matter they need, right when they need it. Employees can then be tested on their training for further retention and reinforcement. Anytime a concept needs to be revisited or refreshed, the information is right there. 
  3. Podcasts provide effective follow-up to classroom training. When training employees, it’s critical to reinforce key concepts. Human beings learn and retain information through repetition and by studying topics in different ways. By combining succinct, digital lessons with traditional classroom training methods, you allow for a quick and effective means of mastery — whether you’re training someone to take inventory, interact properly with customers, or navigate the company’s proprietary software.
  4. Podcasts encourage self-directed learning. We’ve already established that 65% of podcast listeners use their mobile devices to enjoy content. By giving people the power to download just the information they need and listen on their own time, you’re encouraging them to take control of their learning experience and absorb information in a way that best suits them. Through podcasts, people who struggle to retain or understand new information can easily revisit key concepts and episodes until the information sticks.  Self-driven learners can access podcasts to build knowledge and skills in areas of interest to them—areas that may not be offered by the organization via formal training.
  5. Learners engage with podcasts. As observed by Edison Research, 86% of monthly podcast listeners listen to most or all of a podcast episode. As long as the information is presented in a way that’s concise, interesting and easy to follow, you can be confident that the information will connect with employees and be consumed in its entirety.

    Podcasting is providing valuable new opportunities in education, and a growing number of businesses are discovering how to effectively incorporate this medium into their own training processes. Podcasts are easy to create, highly cost-effective, and capable of training employees in ways which were once inconceivable.

employee training podcast

Media Partners’ Learning Essentials Podcasts Series features free podcasts based on our best-selling films. More than an audio version of each film, our podcasts feature host commentary that guides listeners through key learning points and excerpts from the film. They provide a robust learning experience and many practical tips, making them the perfect training follow-up or learning reinforcement tool.