The Power of Podcasting

We’ve all probably said it in varying incarnations countless times: Why don’t students complete the assigned readings? Why don’t students read my comments? Why don’t students read the information I make available to them?

Sound familiar?

Of course, to be fair, our students are busy with many juggling full-time jobs, family obligations, and school. There are only so many hours in a day, right? So what’s a teacher to do? How can we reach and motivate our students beyond what we’re already doing? While a good deal of responsibility rests squarely on the students’ shoulders, we educators need to continue to work hard to reach our students. One approach is to create podcasts.

Podcasting is a term that first came into existence in 2004 as a hybrid of the word iPod, Apple’s enormously popular and revolutionary file-playing device, and the word “broadcasting.” Pod-casting caught on so fast that in 2005 the New Oxford American Dictionary named “podcast” its word of the year (“Mac Daily News,” para. 1).

Technically speaking, podcasting is the transmission of regularly occurring and thematically connected media (audio, still images, and/or video) across the Internet usually via an RSS (Really Simple Syndication)  feed that users subscribe to. Once an end user subscribes, whenever a new podcast episode is available, it is automatically captured by pod catching software such as Google Reader or iTunes and downloaded so that the content can be played on devices ranging from desktop computers to smart phones.

Basic podcasts–that is, audio-only podcasts–are easy to create and have a variety of educational applications. Podcasts can be used to…

  • Introduce new material (e.g., an overview of a reading assignment; pre-seminar overview);
  • summarize content (e.g., a review of reading assignments; a review of seminar highlights; key point explanations);
  • present a guest interview;
  • provide supplementary information (e.g., reaction to a current article on a topic; background information; more in-depth discussion of a topic);
  • convey course information (e.g., policies, expectations, rubric information);
  • archive answers frequently asked questions.

Podcast Facts

  • In terms of length, students prefer shorter podcasts (roughly in the range of 3 to 12 minutes long).
  • Students do not want to listen to entire lectures or long recordings to glean from those discussions specific pieces of information; rather, they want to review specific topics and they want to do so in a more limited amount of time.
  • Many instructors think that creating podcasts will be a time-consuming endeavor, but the research shows that instructors did not find producing audio podcasts took much additional time.
  • Some instructors reported that podcasts actually helped to reduce questions students submitted via email.

If podcasting sounds like something you might be interested in trying, be sure to read Thursday’s blog post as I will explain how to create and distribute podcasts.

Regards, Kurtis

_______

References

Mac Daily News. (2005). New Oxford American Dictionary announces word of the year: ‘Podcast.’ Retrieved from http://macdailynews.com/2005/12/06/new_oxford_american_dictionary_announces_word_of_the_year_podcast/

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2 responses to “The Power of Podcasting

  1. You will see your grades go up as students can listen to the content over and over. yes they are not there in class (in some cases), but in the end its not HOW they are educated, but they they ARE educated.

    • Thanks for your comment, Dave. I think you are right in that what matters is not so much how students get educated but that they get educated. To this end, using technology (not for the sake of the technology but for the pedagogy for using it) helps educators reach 21st century learners. I am looking forward to checking out your Twitter posts. –Kurtis

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