Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Podcasting and Education

This news article from Campus Technology suggests podcasting does not add to "learning." Consensus: Podcasting Has No 'Inherent' Pedagogic Value
A bevy of recent studies on students' experience listening to recorded lectures via podcasts confirms what many lecturers already know: that the pedagogical value of podcasts depends almost entirely on student motivation and the learning "context" of the application.
The article links to a longer Carnegie Mellon University report, A Teaching with Technology White Paper: Podcasting, that suggests that replacing in-person lectures with video or audio lectures is not advisable, but does think there is a place for podcast lectures as refreshers or as supplemental materials or even as homework assignments. The Carnegie Mellon white paper reviewed three experiments in lecture podcasting at:
  • the University of Michigan School of Dentistry
  • Harvard Extension School
  • the University of Washington
Some of the findings I found interesting from those experiments include:
  • Audio podcasts were preferred over video podcasts or podcasts with audio and still images
  • Majority of students listened/viewed lecture podcasts at a computer despite the flexibility of loading it to an mp3 player or iPod
  • Most used the podcasts as a refresher from actual classroom lectures and downloading increased when the podcasts were syndicated via an RSS feed
  • The real potential of podcasts is to design as supplementary material designed specifically for the format. One approach is "sonic sessions" that interpret one or two important topics and offer questions for considerion.
  • Another use of podcasts is having students create podcasts for the instructor to review. One example, students working pairs created 6 to 10 minute video podcasts "sharing something that they learned during the previous class.
I believe there is great potential for podcasting as a learning tool. Note, I do not say a training tool because I think as we shift from solely bricks and mortar to digital education systems, the emphasis is placed on the learner to build their learning environment as opposed to the pre-digital world were parents, educators, or employers dictated that the learner will give their time to the teacher/professor/trainer.

We need to take these findings to heart, because the people involved are what we call digital natives and are supposed to take to learning 2.0 technologies like fish to water.

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