• Mallory Weiss

Tuning In

How Learner Feedback Led to an Audio Experiment


For this month’s continuous learning nudge—the topic of which was Bullying—we decided to do a little experiment. Frankly, the last time we used the words, “bullying,” and “experiment” in the same sentence was our 5th grade science fair, so we were a little nervous. But, thankfully, this time was more successful than the Infamous Potato Mishap of 2005.


What was our experiment, if not a spud-powered light bulb (utterly ruined by Peter Malarkey, by the way)? Spud-powered audio! (Kidding. Though, I did eat a sweet potato before doing the voiceover.)


Learners who received our continuous learning nudge in September had the option between reading the nudge or listening to it — an exciting, new version of audio for our platform. Here’s the rundown on what this version of audio sounds like, why we explored the option, and what it means for the future of audio on our platform.


Sounds like 👂

Illustration by Augusto Zambonato @augustozambonato

Those of you who have been on our platform for a while know that audio has long been a component of our training. Our episodes of “Dear Ethena”—a play on call-in radio shows—break down a caller’s predicament to give our learners context on a variety of topics. (OG Ethena learners may remember Ethena’s cat, Lasagna, who went to a farm upstate to get his PhD in Science of Paw . . . I mean, Law.)


But our latest version of audio provides a different experience. Rather than creating a separate narrative, our audio option for our Bullying nudge is in the style of a book on tape. By selecting the audio option, learners receive the same information as those who decide to read the text. (Though, we’ll admit, the listening option takes a little bit longer . . . lest we sound like a chipmunk that found a few Pixy Stix.)


Why did we try this new format? Because we listened.


Thanks to listeners, like you

Illustration by Augusto Zambonato @augustozambonato

As is (hopefully) very clear by now, we at Ethena take feedback very seriously. Whether it be in-house or from those using our platform, we value not only communication but the action that follows. As a result, we actively look for trends in the feedback that our learners provide at the ends of our nudges, with the hopes that we can continue to improve our content and our platform.


We spotted a trend over the course of the past few months: learners requesting an audio option so that they can listen to the content rather than read it.


This is perhaps an unsurprising request when you consider the fact that in 2020, an estimated 100 million people listened to a podcast each month and it’s expected to reach 125 million in 2022. As podcasts continue to grow in popularity, it makes sense that our training would adapt to accommodate those who prefer to learn aurally, those who want to train more easily during their commute (though do not answer the check on learning while driving!), or those who want to integrate our training more seamlessly into their morning work routines. Whatever the reason, you asked and we answered.


Roger that!

Illustration by Augusto Zambonato @augustozambonato

It’s all well and good to change things up, but an experiment is nothing without analysis. (See, Ms. Duin? We remember!) So what have we heard so far? As a nudge, Bullying has a 95% approval rating. (Note: that’s approval of the content, not approval of bullying as an action.) And of those who have completed the nudge so far, a quarter has chosen to listen to the audio option.


Overall, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. And, a few learners have reached out to encourage us to continue to push the audio envelope (which Harry Potter fans know as a “howler”). So . . . what’s next for audio?


A few learners have given feedback that they’d like to have a visual to watch while the audio nudge plays, in addition to the closed captioning. (Hello, Pixar? It’s us, Ethena!) A few want to be able to follow along with the nudge, slide by slide. What’s consistent is that learners are looking for additional ways to engage with our content.


Personally, I’ve been impressed and proud of that fact—that it appears very few are looking to audio options for a multitasking solution. Selfishly, I love it when learners want more of my work . . . unlike that potato-chomping rascal, Peter Malarkey. Ethena doesn’t operate based on my personal desire to please people, but we do, collectively, value the ability to listen to and learn from those who use our platform.


Before audio, learners asked for slides (✅), video (✅), dynamic content (✅), applicable tips & takeaways (✅) . . . sensing a trend? You talk, we listen. It means a lot to know that Ethena has a wide reach, but it means even more to know that those we reach have productive thoughts and opinions on our work. With your help, we’ll only get better.


So what’s next for audio? (Sorry not sorry for the following pun . . .) Stay tuned.

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