The Educational Value of Podcasting: October 4-22, 2006

Possibilities of Podcasts

Possibilities of Podcasts

by Richard Smith -
Number of replies: 16
Without foreclosing discussion on the dangers / downsides of podcasting, how about if we open the discussion with some speculation or comments on the potential and possibilities that podcasting opens up.

In my case one possibility - which, admittedly, I am not fully realizing - is to move "lecture" (one way) material into a one way medium and occupy my face to face time with students with more interactivity and exercises.

The other thing I look to podcasts to provide is an easy, portable, review system for students who want refresher/study material that they can take with them.

What do you see as the potential for podcasting? Please differentiate between "distance" and local/hybrid teaching in your comments. In my case, my use has been as a supplement to local/f2f teaching.

Looking forward to your replies. And some people have already made comments in this area, but perhaps you could repeat/expand on the theme in this discussion thread.

...r
In reply to Richard Smith

Re: Possibilities of Podcasts

by Nick Kearney -
Hello,
I work in a cooperative in Valencia Spain. We are active in most areas of learning. I run the language school and coordinate the use of ICT for learning throughout the organization.
I have to admit that podcasting to me sounds like new skin for the old ceremony. In language learning (hybrid) we have been providing sound files for a very long time. I remember providing "sound files" on cassette for students to listen to in their cars and on the bus as far back as the early 90s. I wonder what the difference is between those files and podcasts, leaving aside the issue of greater ease of manipulation. They were equally portable, and gave people the capacity to fit study into "dead" spaces in their day. Then as now, some found them useful, others were irritated because the context in which they listened often made it hard to take notes. Others felt they were making great use of their time, but on examination it became evident they hadn't listened as hard as they thought they had.
It appears to me that a percentage of people respond very well to the use of sound files, but that many others find that their attention drifts, especially when listening in contexts where other visual stimuli can distract. This begs the question: are podcasts enough on their own or do we need other accompanying media in order to make the most of them? I say this especially in the context of the review/refresher system Richard mentions.
It occurs to me that the nature of the podcast may have advantages for learning processes that focus on repetition and that, at present, while we are living through the relative novelty of the Ipod, they may have important motivational value. I wonder how long that will last.
It is important as well to bear in mind the advantages for those who have troubles, of whatever kind, with text. Perhaps the key advantage of the podcast, more than portability, has to do with accessibility.
All the best
Nick
In reply to Nick Kearney

Re: Possibilities of Podcasts

by Richard Smith -
Julia has already mentioned some of the advantages of podcasts, but I'd like to just expand a bit on the comments you mention here, Nick:

"I have to admit that podcasting to me sounds like new skin for the old ceremony. In language learning (hybrid) we have been providing sound files for a very long time. I remember providing "sound files" on cassette for students to listen to in their cars and on the bus as far back as the early 90s. I wonder what the difference is between those files and podcasts, leaving aside the issue of greater ease of manipulation."

The "equivalence" to cassettes is an easy critique, I think, and one I heard at a recent meeting in our faculty. I think it is inaccurate, however. You've already highlighted "manipulation" as a benefit, but I think the manipulation benefits might be actually quite important, and have more power than a first impression might reveal. Here are some benefits from digital audio/enhanced podcasts that I see:

- flipping "chapters" allows for a browse and almost search function that is not possible with linear media like cassettes. This opens the tool up to more serious use as an exploratory device and makes it more useful as a study tool. The chapter markers, in my case, are the powerpoint slides that accompany the lecture. When viewed on a desktop or laptop computer (or even on the tiny screen of the iPodvideo) they add something, however small, that the cassette didn't have.

- copying the files happens a) more quickly and b) with automation, depending on the type of software.

* The speed is a non-trivial addition, as it means that people are likely to make copies rather than listen in the library or wherever they got the tapes from. And they might make copies for other students, or make a "mashup" of bits and pieces.

* With RSS those copies happen automatically, over the network and we should never underestimate the power of an effective "push" technology (e.g., email).

- while most people think of podcasts as being solely audio files, in fact there is support in the standard for other items, like PDF and JPEG and MOV (MP4). The power of moving pictures, documents that can be viewed on a computer or printed, shouldn't be underestimated, either. I have found the "screencast" to be an amazing supplement to flipping slides. A simple way to take advantage of this is to take students on a "web tour".

- while underutilized at present, the iTunes U software, for example, includes hooks for student uploads as well as professors. This can be a bidirectional technology even if it doesn't look particularly like that right now. I suspect in the long term that the platform won't be the iPod but the mobile phone, which has a microphone, camera, text input.... you can probably see where that is heading.

Anyway, while acknowledging that there are considerable challenges in realizing these potentials, I do think we need to peel back the surface and look beyond the skin of "audio distribution technology" .

...r
In reply to Nick Kearney

Re: *Inspired* Possibilities of Podcasts

by Bronwyn Stuckey -

Gilly Salmon (Professor of eLearning at Leicester) introduced podcasts in her faculty. She didn't want to do the traditional download of a lecture. What she did was take a $40 piece of software and existing tools and ask faculty to make a 10 minute podcast.

The podcast involves 3 parts:

  • up-to-date world news relevant to learning that week
  • feedback and feedforward on learning and collaborative team work that week
  • a fun part (e.g., joke or rap)

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2006-06/uol-htl060206.php

While the University of Leicester are podcasting lectures: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/leicestershire/5044374.stm

I think this other application is far more exciting and provides many benefits to the learner and a renewed connection the domain and practices of the real world for learners and teachers.

In reply to Nick Kearney

Re: Possibilities of Podcasts, a web-bibliography

by David Millar -

This all started because I looked up Alice MacGillivray's citation of Wikipedia... It reminded me of similar projects, past (principles & applications) and present (see podcast sampler). Feel free to add to, or comment on the attached, which I hope will become a wiki.

In reply to David Millar

Re: Possibilities of Podcasts, a web-bibliography

by Sylvia Currie -
Thanks of getting us started on a collection of resources related to podcasting, David! I copied it over to a wiki called Our Collection of Podcasting Resources for us to continue adding to your categories and to create new ones.
Sylvia
In reply to Sylvia Currie

city-storytelling, a web-bibliography

by David Millar -
Sylvia, I promised the gang I'd upload this some time ago. It's a compilation that shows all kinds of oral history projects, some though not all in podcast form, but useful for illustrating educational possibilities. Because it's a web-bib anyone can use the links to actually view the projects. I'm reluctant to upload it to the Podcasting wiki because its topic is slightly different. Maybe you can create a 2nd wiki.

While resarching another topic I found this grade-school bioscience vlog (similar to podcast) site http://www.edutopia.org/php/keyword.php?id=037
If you think it's pertinent, please tell the others or put in the first wiki.
In reply to David Millar

Re: city-storytelling, a web-bibliography

by Sylvia Currie -
I created a second Wiki to list David's storytelling links so click that Wiki edit tab any time you come across a resource to add. There is some interesting stuff there! The Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling...hmmm, now there's an idea for an upcoming SCoPE seminar. 
In reply to Richard Smith

Re: Possibilities of Podcasts

by Julia Trachsel -
I attended a seminar through the Learning and Teaching Centre at the University of Victoria yesterday (October 5, 2006) led by Barbara Sawhill, a visiting professor from Oberlin College in the US (Northeast). She told of her use of blogging and podcasting for a Spanish Conversation class and how it revolutionized how the students learned (they had to take more responsibility) and the input they had from the outside world.

(1) Students who were more auditorily oriented could do some of their  blogging via a podcast.
(2) Other students in another class elsewhere in the world sent introduction via podcast and her class responded with their own and a collaborative relationship started with the other group.
(3) Podcasts could be used for turning in assignments showcasing conversation or pronounciation.
etc, etc.
(4)Someone from South America wrote to each student via the comment sescton of the blog in Spanish and explained the situation there as some in the class were wanting to go there to work
(5) Someone from Spain gave detailed error messages on what the students were doing badly
(6) Others send podcasted 'comments' to the various students blogs

I think the combo of blogging and podcasting (and she also used Wikis), was an excellent idea.
Her website (I've given the page on podcasting but the Spanish blogs are open for perusasl) is:  http://languages.oberlin.edu/blogs/hisp305/podcasts.html
I won't swear to this, but I believe she said each student received (on loan) an iPod with microphone in order to do podcasting for the course and had access to appropriate software (italk) for editing and uploading.

I think we will be e-mailed some links from the presentation, so will pass these on if I get them.
Cheers.
Julia
Career Educator
UVic
PS:  I thought Moodle editing tools included a spell checker?
In reply to Julia Trachsel

Re: Possibilities of Podcasts

by Sylvia Currie -
Language learning seems to be an ideal use of podcasts. Thanks to the link Julia provided to Barbara Sawhill's Spanish course blogs my head has been spinning with possibilities for our Nle'kepmxcin language courses in our Academic and Indigenous Studies department at Nicola Valley Institute of Technology. About two years ago the instructor began producing recordings organized by type (transitives, intransitives, etc) and uploading them to the course space in Moodle. The students have found them really useful for review of what happens in class.

It's time to take this to the next level. It would be great to combine images and short movies with the audio. Some of the concepts of the language are quite difficult. One example I had explained to me (and I may not have it quite right) is that the noun deer is a different word when the deer is visible than when the deer is out of site, like behind a building. So you can see how visuals would be helpful!

Ultimately we'd really like to see the students contributing their own recordings (practice sessions, introductions, stories, interviews) and commenting on those recordings. It would first take some planning to make sure everyone has the equipment and support to make this happen. Then there's the question of interface to organize all the recordings and comments. Any pointers for this? And can you annotate a podcast -- i.e. add a comment at a certain point in a podcast?


In reply to Richard Smith

Re: Possibilities of Podcasts

by Heather Ross -
I keep thinking about the podcasts of lectures from Berkeley and Stanford I've been listening to. I think that if professors had podcast lectures for courses that I had taken I would have made a lot of use of those.

One professor of a distance course that I took had Quicktime video lectures that we could watch off of the streaming server or from a CD. If he had put either the entire video in a vodcast or just the audio in podcast, my learning could have been more mobile.

I think that students are going to start demanding such mobility in the very near future.

In reply to Richard Smith

Re: *Inspired* Possibilities of Podcasts

by Bronwyn Stuckey -

A colleague researching podcasting in higher education in the USA came across a teacher who was supporting students to use podcasts as the rehearsal of their face-to-face tutorial presentations. They would podcast it it the week or so before and their peers would critique it and offer advice as to which content required visual input or support. Then they would confidently present the live presentation the following week built on the best of class/community advice. Now coming from a community of practice background  I really like this kind of stuff!!!

In reply to Richard Smith

Re: Possibilities of Podcasts

by BJ Berquist -
Here comes BJ, blundering in late as usual with something that's probably totally off topic! I thought that you might want to take a look at the transcript from a discussion held in Tapped In on a K-12 use of podcasting to spark some creative thinking.  http://ti2data.sri.com/transcripts/mst/2006/20060130sigtcpodcasting.pdf

In reply to BJ Berquist

Re: Possibilities of Podcasts

by Alice MacGillivray -
Hi BJ!  Great link; great example; thank you.

One of the things this conversation is bringing to mind is the angst I went through trying to get two gifted children through school.  There was the odd ray of light (as I am sure Tony is for his students), but the rays of light made the gloomy years almost unbearable.  They've both survived, but I'm back to thinking about how many ways there are to make sense of education, and of how so much formal education seems to have compliance as a goal.
In reply to Richard Smith

Re: Possibilities of Podcasts

by Heather Ross -
Here's a great example of the use of podcasts by educators. Rob is a teacher and Donna is a teacher-librarian here in Saskatchewan. They have just started doing this podcast to educate teachers and students in their district about technology.

Heather
In reply to Richard Smith

Re: Possibilities of Podcasts

by Susan Manning -

Hello to all and my apologies for coming in a little late, however that’s the beauty of asynchronous work.

I’ve used podcasting successfully to help contextualize course content. Either I’ll record and post current thoughts on whatever we’re studying or link students to podcasts that discuss and describe the main themes. I was formerly involved in a production called NCQ Talk, which is now archived on LearningTimes.org (My new venture is The LearningTimes Green Room at http://www.ltgreenroom.org ) In the former series I was able to specifically record episodes that matched content I was teaching at the time (graduate courses in technology use) and having the multiple voices of my show co-hosts made it more fun for the students to listen to. All that said, I think what matters most is what I ask student to do with the podcasts once they’ve listened. Are they intended to be passive recipients or respond in some form?

Just my thoughts,

Susan Manning

In reply to Richard Smith

Presentation on Podcasting in Language Classroom

by Nancy Riffer -
I found this by Silvia Tolisano in the K-12 Online Conference --ispeak, ising, ilisten, ilearn.  At about 4 min. into talk Silvia starts giving concrete examples of her use of ipod (mp3 player) technology in the classroom.  She sees ipods as useful for teacher prepared material, material created by students, and material created by outside sources.  E.g. "Notes from Spain," in English, gives news, traditions, food, etc. to supplement classroom learning about culture.  "Notes in Spanish" podcasts natural conversations by native speakers not focused around a grammar point. She has helped students create a podcast of neumonic devices for the months of the year which she presents excerpts from.  There are many excellent examples of using podcasts.  Makes me want to learn Spanish.