Do you get more value out of articles, videos, or podcasts?

The question of value comes down to three aspects:

  • What are you doing and what’s your immediate surroundings? Certain tasks are just better suited for different formats.
  • What’s the topic? An author can’t just take material intended for one format and convert it without change into another. But it’s surprising how many will try. I’ve seen podcasts that claim to teach computer programming that are just the audio taken from live lectures. I can’t learn like that and I would think that a lot of other people would have difficulties too.
  • Does the author understand various learning styles and make an effort to include similar teaching styles into the article, video, or podcast?

When an author knows how to do incorporate different teaching styles into a custom presentation that really plays to the strengths of the format, then you have something that you can use to its full advantage whenever your situation also matches. Listen to the full episode or you can also read the full transcript below.


Okay on to the question this week. This is another question that I found online. There are lots of ways to learn something and my overall advice is to incorporate as many different activities as you can. Not only does this help you form more connections between concepts, it also helps to add variety and keep you interested. I’ll give you some suggestions that’ll hopefully help you see the value of each of these formats.

The question of value comes down to three aspects.

First, what are you doing and what’s your immediate surroundings? If you’re in a quiet place with a chair and table to sit and read, then an article is great. You can concentrate, take notes, and really think about what you’re reading. I recommend that you turn off all distractions such as email popups on your computer and silence your phone.

If you have your computer with headphones, then video can be a great medium. This is also a great option if you want to casually watch instructional videos or get project ideas. This can take some discipline though. It’s very easy to get distracted with all the related videos. Personally, I also struggle with this and have found that just accepting it instead of fighting it is a good option. But that doesn’t mean that I let myself wander from one video to the next. If there’s an interesting video that I want to watch, then I just open the video in a new tab and keep my focus on the current topic. I can sometimes end up with a lot of open tabs in my browser and will need to go through them all later.

And if you’re driving or running or doing anything where you need to keep visual focus and want to make better use of your time than just listening to music, then a podcast is your only option. There are even video podcasts which combine the video aspect with the focus of a podcast. Sure, a video podcast is almost like watching computer videos but it has less distractions. Audio only podcasts might seem at first like they’re less fulfilling but you can listen to them at times when that’s all you can do. Listening to audio also fits into how humans have adapted to tell stories and a good story can be just as memorable as an action-packed movie.

There are two more aspects that I’ll explain right after this message from our sponsor.

( Message from Sponsor )

The second aspect is about the topic you’re reading, watching, or listening. If there’s a lot of audio content such as music or nature sounds, then video or a podcast will be good. If there’s a lot of data and diagrams involved, then articles will be good. This is something that I’ve had to adapt with this podcast. Learning how to program normally needs code. Well, there’s no way that I can just read code in any language and expect you to come back for another episode. This is why I try to focus more on the concepts in this podcast and stick to analogies and stories. Things are different in the live classes where we actually go through code and take a more project oriented approach. This podcast tends to be more topic focused.

And the third aspect, are these being produced by the same person or group? We all have preferred learning styles and without realizing it, that same learning style appears most often when teaching.

If a person tries to write an article, record a video, or record a podcast, and uses a different teaching style than your learning style, then you’re not going to get as much value. I’m not talking about people who say they’re visual learners or audio learners. This goes deeper than that.

I’m talking about how some people need to understand “why” something is important right up front. Once they understand how a topic can directly benefit them or be used, then they’ll stick with it and if not, then they’ll leave.

Another learning style are the “how” learners who learn best through step-by-step instructions. After doing something enough times, they understand.

Then there are the “what” learners who need to understand all the details including the history and how things used to be vs. how they are today.

And finally, there’s the “what if” learners who are looking for guidance so they can experiment and know when they’re on the right track.

It’s not really a good comparison when you look at a podcast created by a host that understands this vs. an article that focuses on pure theory. The author of any content that understands this concept will have an advantage over another author regardless of the format of the material.

When you put all these factors together, there’s room for and value that you can get from all these formats.

And there are other formats too such as group discussion, private tutoring, and traditional classrooms. There’s a place for all these.