The moving University; Learning on your commute

We have had snow here in Leicestershire, England. My wife has been using my car recently and asked me to drive her to and from work. It turns out that a 3-litre supercharged rear-wheel-drive car is not the easiest thing to navigate slippery roads. While driving home and then back again on my own, I got the chance to listen to an audiobook. 

I used to have a 40-minute commute that gave me 80-90 minutes five days per week. I don’t miss the commute, but I do miss this learning time. There is something about listening while driving particularly on regular routes when you are almost on autopilot. I still listen to audiobooks on the turbo trainer or while doing housework, but something about driving seems to help me retain the information. 

Audiobooks for myself and other listeners do not tend to replace reading but rather augments it. Nielsen Book and The Publishers Association suggest that audiobooks listeners tend to be those who do not read much such as 25-44-year-old urban-dwelling males or audio is used for convenience, and when print reading is impossible. Audiobooks, and podcasts, are an art in their own right and can be more engaging for reluctant, struggling, and developing readers as listening to a human voice provides a stronger emotional response.

The genuine love for reading itself, when cultivated, is a superpower.

Naval Ravikant

Research from the National Literacy Trust suggests that audiobooks benefit children’s reading skills and enjoyment by widening their access to books. Listening to the books performed, deepens their understanding of tone, pronunciation, accents, and dialect. Further studies on reading comprehension in adults found no statistically significant differences in comprehension and recall between audiobooks and text ebooks either immediately after reading or two weeks later. However, reading dead tree versions of books is has shown to be slightly better for understanding, but more research is needed to know why. This difference is possibly due to the visual cue of how far you are through a narrative not present with digital books, or that print words are located in a specific place on a page to help people remember it.

Learning with Audiobooks

  1. Listen at normal speed don’t speed it up to get through the book quicker, be selective in your reading, give you brain space to process the words, and enjoy the experiences. 
  2. Listen to selected parts such as the introduction and conclusion if the book is bloated, you don’t have to listen to the whole book.
  3. Use Audible across multiple devices – mobile, kindle, laptop app etc. and use the Wisperlight feature between an audiobook and kindle version.
  4. Make some notes or set a bookmark once it is safe. Write a book summary once you have finished. Recalling the ideas, and putting them down in a document helps you retain the information.
  5. Share what you learn and have a conversation about it to reflect on what you’ve learned. Playing with the ideas in different contexts helps you not just remember the information but better understand it.

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