Favorite Quote of the Week

“Technology alone can make us neither free nor self-directed. The key lies with the individual, not the institution.” – Ken Carroll

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Week 14 -- Podcasting, Webcasting, and Coursecasting

As with every other week in this class, I learned something new this week.  I thought I knew what a podcast was, but as a result of reading a good article this week, I discovered that it was more involved than I realized.  More than just an audio recording, a podcast must have some “behind-the-scenes” capabilities.  The real value in a podcast is the fact that subscribers can get regular, automatic updates to a podcast series.  This article gives a good visual depiction of how a podcast is made:  http://www.educause.edu/sites/default/files/2007/07/CMU_Podcasting_Jun07.pdf
One educational use of the podcast is to record and distribute classroom lectures.  While most students use these recorded lectures as a means of reviewing material, some instructors hesitate to distribute podcasted lectures for fear that students may start to skip the live class altogether, and instead rely on the podcast to “attend” class. 
Since becoming an online student nearly three years ago, I think I would be more inclined to prefer a podcast version of a lecture rather than sit through a lengthy class session in order to listen to a live lecture.  If I knew that I could get the same material from a recording, I would do that in a heartbeat.  The flexibility to listen at a time when it is convenient for me, along with the ability to fast forward and rewind as necessary, would lead me to prefer this method.  If, however, the instructor would give me a good reason to attend the live class session, I would go.
The reluctance of some instructors to use podcasts has me thinking once again about the need for significance in teaching/learning.  Rather than simply making face to face class lectures a requirement for students, how about if instructors made the face to face sessions actually worthwhile?   If a lecture needs to happen in a class with a large student population, and if the lecture is simply used to distribute content, then it seems to me that a podcast is a better option.  However, if there is an element of interactivity and engagement within the class session that a student can’t get from a recorded version, then students will figure out on their own that it is to their benefit to attend the live session. 
Maybe one great advantage of web 2.0 tools is that instructors, because of the availability of a variety of delivery methods, must think through their reasoning for using each method.  If instructors still want students to attend live class sessions, they might now be forced to present students with a good reason for doing so.  The live session, used in connection with a podcasted lecture, can be a powerful learning method.  Why not deliver content with the podcast, thus saving time for the class session to be used for other, more interactive components of the class?  Let’s think through the most effective use of each tool we use – as we do this, students who want to learn will respond with enthusiasm because we have chosen our methods wisely. 
Deal, Ashley (2007, June). Podcasting. A Teaching With Technology White Paper. Educause. Retrieved on June 25, 2010, from http://connect.educause.edu/files/CMU_Podcasting_Jun07.pdf


  1. I agree with you, Lynn. Having access to lectures via podcast (or vodcast) makes absolute sense. It is hard to imagine why faculty would insist on attendance in that kind of situation. Of course there are many classroom sessions that might require physical presence due to activities or the professor's need for formative feedback but a straight lecture would not fall into that category.

    There's kind of a cult following of the lectures of Richard Feynman. I heard about it from a young librarian, who is quite enamored with all things Feynman. He was a very talented educator - a Physics prof, I think - who could make a lecture absolutely riveting. I have only listened to a few of them but he was able to clarify things for me that I always had trouble wrapping my brain around. Try the "jiggling atoms" one on YouTube. Your husband and older children might also like him.

    The only downside to pod/vodcasts for me is that I might sometimes prefer to review text rather than audio. It seems like textual memory works better for some things than others.

  2. Lynn,
    I agree choosing the right tools can engage and entice students to attend and participate in class work. Perhaps some choose not to include podcasting, vodcasting or a number of other tools because they haven't been shown the way to use them effectively. I find that many K12 teachers become reluctant users because they know the time commitment involved with changes in curricula and they want to "know" it is going to engage students or increase student achievement before they make the decision to commit. I am afraid with the new laws that are being passed that we will find even more reluctant instructors. But we can hope that getting their feet wet without jumping in the deep end might be a more reasonable solution to adding these tools.