training with ipod

So you’ve tried training videos, Web-based resources and clunky paper manuals. Ever considered using an iPod as a training tool?

It seems that just about every kid in America—not to mention a heck of a lot of adult music-junkies—owns an iPod, Apple’s pocket-size listening device that’s doing its best to turn the Walkman into an antique. Now, some companies are even using it as a tool to train employees.

At Virginia-based Capital One, employees have a good excuse for listening totheir iPods on the job, according to a Workforce Management report. Thefinancial-services company uses a training program utilizing podcasts, whichare digital recordings users can download and play back at their leisure (

www.apple.com/podcasting).Using a customized Web portal from a home computer, Capital One workers candownload more than a dozen lessons on topics ranging from diversity to the elementsthat constitute the company’s quarterly earnings call.

One of the company’s goals is to present information about topics that affect the entire company and help employees better understand the company’s business model. To help, the company purchased 3,000 iPods, complete with an engraved company logo. Employees keep the devices for as long as they remain with the company.

Retail prices for individual iPods range from $299 (20GB) to $399 (60GB), whilesmaller iPod Minis retail for $199 (4GB) to $249 (6GB).

Make it feel—and sound—familiar
Apple suggests companiesinterested in podcasting follow a “recipe” when formatting podcasts: shoot fora “show” length of 20 to 30 minutes; keep topics moving, with topic lengthsof five to eight minutes; use guests to break up the conversation, pace andtone of the casts; and use music or other non-musical interludes to transitionbetween topics—just like the radio programs to which people have grownaccustomed.

Capital One company expects podcasts to reduce the time employees spend learning in a classroom, as well as costs it incurs when bringing groups to Virginia for training. Initial results are promising:-About 65% of audio learners reported saving time over traditional learning methods. A company spokesman says more podcast content is on the way, and will include speeches and suggested listening from key executives.

And hey, if employees get bored they can always download and crank up tunesfrom new albums by Robert Plant, Hootie & The Blowfish or the Rolling Stones.

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