What’s the best way to learn, Audio or Text?

At the moment, I’m working on an eBook. Technology is great, but you know, there’s something to be said for picking up a physical copy of a book you’ve written, all nicely bound and with a nice cover on it, and giving it to your parents.


But anyway, I digress. I’d be interested in testing this new shiny comments system by getting your views on your preferred way of learning. I’ve been producing podcasts and audio tutorials long before the term podcast was invented. People seem to like these, because when you’re demonstrating a talking device, you can hear what the device is saying and follow along. If you’re a user of text to speech, then hearing a human explaining something can often be more intuitive and intelligible.


Others, on the other hand, say that they find an eBook or some sort of tutorial in written form more helpful. It’s easier to skim and to go at your own pace.


So, if you had the choice, and you are paying for learning material, do you prefer audio or text, and if so, why?


Let’s get those comments humming!

13 Comments on “What’s the best way to learn, Audio or Text?

  1. It depends on what I’m trying to learn. If it’s something to do with code, then an ebook works best, preferably in some format that can be read on my Braille Sense. This is because I need to be able to look at code examples. And there are some things I can learn more easily in lecture format, because it gives me the opportunity to ask questions of the instructor.

    • Good point about the lecture format. I am considering offering webinars on certain subjects.

  2. I tend to be pretty flexible when it comes to learning through either medium. The preference for me lies more in whether I’d like to learn something in person with someone else to demonstrate things and watch what I’m doing. If I’m to learn through audio, I’d rather have the material pre-recorded, so I don’t have to deal with feeling awkward in front of another person during the learning process.

  3. I prefer text because then I can either read it or listen to it.

  4. I was once a *HUGE* fan of audiobooks–and when it comes to reading texts for pleasure, I like the dramatization of most works read by the human voice. BUT: When it comes to learning and truly absorbing material, I much prefer a text-based option. I like having the option of reading word by word, character by character, and truly picking apart the text I’m working with. I’ve found I learn much more effectively this way–and find it easier to look up words I don’t understand while doing so.

  5. I tend to bee too impatient for audio tutorials. If I want to learn something, I like to have a look at it first and then start reading a manual or tutorial if I need it. Texts let me use search terms, jump to headings etc, that’s why I prefer them over audio. However, maybe DAISY would be an option as it lets you navigate audio, too?
    I think text with short audio clips explaining the content of a screen, much as sighted people use screen shots, could be an option, too.
    Another advantage of text is that I can see the spelling of terms I don’t know.

  6. I thought I’d always be a text-only learner, and then I discovered your FSCasts on iTunes and have been taking courses through the Cisco Academy for the Vision Impaired, which is primarily audio lectures. In general, I like to read something first (either with JAWS or in Braille (electronic or hard-copy), then listen to well-produced audio tutorials. Fortunately, you always have produced good audio tutorials (as does CAVI) so I feel confident anything I hear from you or them is thorough, to the point, and systematic.

  7. Like Amanda, it depends what I need to learn; audio tutorials can be great in that you’re hands are free to follow the instructions, written tutorials can be great for all the reasons above re accuracy, going at one’s own pace etc. I teach adaptive tech, so I find that it’s an interesting one when it comes to clients: I often have to find out what they’re using to read things, then check that they actually know how to pause, rewind, etc.

  8. I am impatient when it comes to new technology: I want to start using it straight away. I use the find feature extensively when I want to learn something specific. Having said that though, I do like an audio demonstration of the main features of a given product to hear what it sounds like in action.

  9. I prefer Daisy and text formats as they are searchable references for later use. When learning new technology for entertainment only, audio or podcasts are fine.

  10. For me, either is fine depending on the quality of the spoken audio. I tend to like to listen to audio tutorials at fast speed, using a Booksense at this time but many of the other readers before then. Text is better for searching though, so depending on what sort of tutorial it is, using text only versions can be quicker.

  11. I always start with text, or the manual or an online tutorial. It’s faster to skim through to find what I need. But if I’m still stuck, then I want an audio demo, preferably well-produced. My biggest gripe with audio is how disorganized most demos are. I wish more people with degrees in journalism would take up the passtime of creating audio demos.