Jennifer Southcombe, Memorial University of Newfoundland
2 Definitions and background
O’Bannon, Lubke, Beard and Britt (2011) describe a podcast as “digital media files distributed through the Internet and downloaded through syndication for playback on a computer or MP3 player" (p. 1885). Podcasts can be either audio only recordings or audio recordings that include enhancements such as video or PowerPoint slides (Walls, Kucsera, Walker, Acee, McVaugh & Robinson, 2010). Podcasts in educational situations tend to be recordings of entire lectures or shorter supplemental recordings referring to specific content topics (Hew, 2009).
The term podcast was created from a combination of Apple’s iPod” and the term “broadcasting” (O’Bannon et al., 2011, p.1885). Podcasts are unique from other digital media in that they can be subscribed to through Really Simple Syndication (RSS) (Anzai, 2009). Any new podcasts will be automatically downloaded for users that subscribe to the RSS feed (Walls et al., 2010). Podcasts can also be accessed from links posted in Learning Management Systems (LMS) or other web spaces for downloading any time onto a variety of digital devices, including personal computers, tablets, smart phones, MP3 players and iPods (Scutter, Stupans, Sawyer & King, 2010).
Podcasts provide opportunities to support student accommodation needs (Vajoczki, Watt, Marquis & Holshausen, 2010), promote active learning (Lonn & Teasley, 2009), increase student achievement (Kay & Kletskin, 2012; McKinney et al., 2009), and provide flexible learning resources (Scutter et al., 2010) and personalized learning opportunities (On Tam, 2012).
Podcasts help to support students with accommodation needs (Vajoczki, Watt, Marquis & Holshausen, 2010). The Vajoczki et al. study observed that podcast recordings of full lectures help reduce the need for assistants to act as note takers for disabled students. Making podcasts of lectures available can also help support students with medical absences and provide them an opportunity to complete the course. Podcasts can also be a convenient option to support ESL (English as a Second Language) student pronunciation of new terminology and concept attainment (Scutter et al., 2010).
Podcasts can provide opportunities for pedagogy that promote active learning (Lonn & Teasley, 2009). Lonn and Teasly argue that delivering key topics for review via podcasts allows an instructor the opportunity to restructure face-to-face class time to include discussion and other active learning opportunities. Another way podcasts help create active and authentic learning opportunities is by putting the creation and sharing of them into the hands of the student (Coutinho & Mota 2011; Kennedy, Newton, Haines, Walther-Thomas, & Kellems, 2012; Lee, McLoughlin & Chan, 2008). Lee et al. (2008) argue that the “true potential of podcasting technology lies in its knowledge-creation value” (p. 504) and Armstrong and Tucker (2009) argue that the technology must be put in the hands of the learner for higher learning to occur.
In addition to promoting active learning and supporting students with accommodation needs, podcast usage can lead to student achievement gains (Kay & Kletskin, 2012; McKinney et al., 2009). McKinney, Dyck and Luber (2009) conclude that students who only receive lectures through podcasts actually score better on assessments than those who attend lectures in person. According to Kay and Kletskin’s study using short video podcasts of math problems, students prefer the chunked, step-by-step explanations and the “dynamic visualization of a problem as opposed to the static presentation of a text-based format” (p. 624), while at the same time it increases their concept understanding.
Podcasts provide students with flexible learning resources (Scutter et al., 2010) and the opportunity for personalized learning (On Tam, 2012). Students that access podcasts have the ability to control when, where and what they learn (Kay & Edwards, 2012). Students can listen over and over to material they find difficult and access content they miss in class (Hew, 2009). The availability of recorded lecture podcasts can also provide students with the choice of whether to take notes during the live lecture or focus on the lecturer and take notes while watching the podcast at a later time (Whitney & Pessina, 2008).
One important constraint with podcasting as a learning technology is that full-lecture podcasts conflict with learning theories that promote more active learning experiences for students (On Tam, 2012). Podcast recordings of full lectures tend to promote passive learning when students focus too much on the audio portion of the podcast options instead of “actively engaging with the lecture content” (Scutter et al., 2010, p. 182). Scutter et al. argue that the use of lecture podcasts may encourage dependence on the teacher’s lecture and teacher-centered learning. The results of On Tam’s 2012 study indicate that short demonstrations of skills were the most effective type of podcasts and that the recording of full lectures was the least effective. Even though teachers are recording their lessons, the Lonn and Teasley (2009) study observed that teachers are not changing their teaching styles from the dominate lecture method. Lonn and Teasley suggest that one reason for this finding might be that instructors are only adding a recorder to their classroom to capture their lectures’ content and not modifying in-class instruction to incorporate the possibilities of podcast technology.
A second constraint with podcasting as a learning technology is that, unlike a face-to-face lecture, it does not provide a means for student-teacher or student-student interactions (Lawlor & Donnelly, 2010). A portion of the student population still prefers and relies on the face-to-face lecture environment for comprehension of the concepts and making connections with teachers (Kazlauskas & Robinsons, 2011). The results of the Lawlor study also finds that students are more reluctant to get involved in the face-to-face lectures if they know the lecture is being recorded (Lawlor & Donnelly, 2010).
A third constraint with podcasting as a learning technology is that the technology may be as simple as a recording on a smart phone or as expensive and time consuming as hiring media companies to make professional video recordings of live lectures (Parson, Reddy, Wood & Senior, 2009; Sutton-Brady, Scott, Taylor, Carabetta & Clark, 2009). High quality recordings of lectures would require specialized lighting and camera operation which would make the process intrusive, causing students to be less likely to engage in the class (Lawlor & Donnely, 2010).
A final constraint with podcasting as a learning technology is that students tend not to take advantage of the RSS feeds (Lee, Miller & Newnham, 2009) and the mobile possibilities of podcast and preferr to download and listen to them on a home computer (Kazlauskas & Robinson, 2012; Scutter et al., 2010; O’Bannon et al., 2011). The Kazlauskas and Robinson study found that students prefer to maintain a separation between school work and personal time and do not download lecture podcasts onto their mp3 players.
6 Works Cited
Anzai, Y. (2009). Digital trends among Japanese university students: Podcasting and wikis as tools for learning. International Journal on E-Learning, 8(4), 453-467. Retrieved from http://www.editlib.org.qe2a-proxy.mun.ca/p/30501
Armstrong, G., Tucker, J., & Massad, V. (2009). Interviewing the experts: Student produced podcast. Journal of Information Technology Education: Innovations in Practice, 8(1), 79-90. Retrieved from http://www.editlib.org/p/111718
Coutinho, C., & Mota, P. (2011). Web 2.0 technologies in music education in Portugal: Using podcasts for learning. Computers in the Schools, 28(1), 56-74. doi:10.1080/07380569.2011.552043
Hew, K. F. (2009). Use of audio podcast in K-12 and higher education: A review of research topics and methodologies. Educational Technology, Research and Development, 57(3), 333-357. doi:10.1007/s11423-008-9108-3
Kay, R., & Edwards, J. (2012). Examining the use of worked example video podcasts in middle school mathematics classrooms: A formative analysis. Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, 38(3), 1-20. Retrieved from cjlt.csj.ualberta.ca/index.php/cjlt/article/download/684/350
Kay, R., & Kletskin, I. (2012). Evaluating the use of problem-based video podcasts to teach mathematics in higher education. Computers & Education, 59(2), 619-627. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2012.03.007
Kazlauskas, A., & Robinson, K. (2012). Podcasts are not for everyone. British Journal of Educational Technology, 43(2), 321-330. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8535.2010.01164.x
Kennedy, M., Newton, J., Haines, S., Walther-Thomas, C. & Kellems, R. (2012). A triarchic model for teaching “Introduction to Special Education”: Case studies, content acquisition podcasts, and effective feedback. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 20(3), 251-275. Retrieved from http://www.editlib.org/p/38652
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Lee, M. J., 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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Parson, V., Reddy, P., Wood, J., & Senior, C. (2009). Educating an iPod generation: Undergraduate attitudes, experiences and understanding of vodcast and podcast use. Learning, Media and Technology, 34(3), 215. doi:10.1080/17439880903141497
Scutter, S., Stupans, I., Sawyer, T., & King, S. (2010). How do students use podcasts to support learning. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 26(2), 180-191. Retrieved from http://www.ascilite.org.au/ajet/ajet26/scutter.pdf
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Vajoczki, S., Watt, S., Marquis, N. & Holshausen, K. (2010). Podcasts: Are they an effective tool to enhance student learning? A case study. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 19(3), 349-362. Retrieved from http://www.editlib.org/p/30510
Walls, S. M., Kucsera, J. V., Walker, J. D., Acee, T. W., McVaugh, N. K., & Robinson, D. H. (2010). Podcasting in education: Are students as ready and eager as we think they are? Computers & Education, 54(2), 371-378. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2009.08.018
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