Learning through podcasting

The SBOSE module has provided us with topical weekly podcasts to supplement our reading and online activities.  It’s my first experience with podcasts for learning and I’ve been interested in my own engagement with them.  So, here, I’d like to reflect on the use of podcasts for learning.

Podcasts are designed to be listened to on-the-go and it’s claimed they are great for informal and mobile learning. In particular, for distance learners and non-traditional students, podcasts can provide the type of continued contact that helps with retention. But I found that I didn’t feel comfortable listening to the BOE podcasts when out and about, instead I waited until I was at my desk with my notebook and pen, just like I would be if I was listening to a lecture, or reading an article.   I wanted to be able to look up a reference or rewind a bit I missed.  I was anxious that, with no written transcript, if there was something useful in the podcasts I’d have to listen to the whole thing again when I got in.

Perhaps this is due to the nature of the content.  Podcasts and their mobile learning connotations are informal, but the content of the BOE podcasts is more academic and full of references and important points to note and remember.  I wasn’t comfortable with passively listening to this content without being able to do something active to help me remember it, and I wonder how effective delivering content through podcasting is for learning.

In contrast in a previous task we were required to create a podcast summarising our learning.  This active task challenged us to articulate our understanding of the material verbally.  In the context of a course full of reading and writing, this was a refreshing, challenging, satisfying task which reinforced my learning of the subject and allowed me to practice talking about my ideas instead of writing them down. Active learning by making podcasts rather than learning though podcasts is where the real value of podcasting lies, according to Lee, McLoughlin and Chan (2008).

The true potential of podcasting technology lies in its knowledge-creation value, and its use as a vehicle for disseminating learner-generated content Lee, McLoughlin and Chan (2008, p504).

Their study explored the value of students as podcast producers.  Students created short recordings for future cohorts to listen to before each lecture.  The podcasts contained pre-lecture background information, introductions to difficult concepts and orientation for activities in the lecture, perfect for listening to on the way to university to ‘get in the zone’. However, as I had previously experienced, it was the benefits for the podcasts producers that was strongest: by creating podcasts students were challenged to articulate their understanding of topics they had recently learned, this reinforced their learning and they developed digital literacy and team working team working skills.

This has significance for my own practice as awareness of podcasts becomes mainstream and teaching staff  are increasingly interested in creating audio content themselves. Typically this interest is technology-driven as they want to provide their own content in different ways.  I’d like to demonstrate to them the pedagogic value of students as producers of podcasts with the many benefits this brings.


References:

Lee, M. J. W., McLoughlin, C., & Chan, A. (2008). Talk the talk: learner-generated podcasts as catalysts for knowledge creation. British Journal of Educational Technology, 39(3), 501-521. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8535.2007.00746.x

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