Yesterday, my colleague Julian and I went to the second meeting of the Podcasting for Pedagogic Purposes SIG at University of Hertfordshire in St Albans outside London. The SIG is making a significant contribution to the higher education sector by setting up means of sharing resources and examples of good practice in educational podcasting.
- SIG Blog about podcasting
- SIG podcast – includes excellent how-to guides for using two free tools: Audacity for sound file editing and podOmatic for mounting the podcasts. We made podcasts during the session.
- SIG Wiki with materials contributed by members
Here are some of my initial responses to the event. It was heartening to hear the message stressed that podcasting can be used most effectively for student-centred teaching that goes far beyond just recording lectures and posting them online. A teacher-centred, transmission-style lecture isn’t going to be enhanced by merely posting a one-hour long audio or video file. although some students will still find it somewhat of an aid to revision (reviewing for exams). A typical length for a podcast from the examples given was between 5-10 minutes, no longer.
There are some things you can do to improve a podcast of even this one-way type of lecture – chopping into smaller, logical chunks and providing tags or some way for students to find just the bit they want, using a more dramatic speaking style, etc. Even more exciting, however, are the ways of using podcasting for two-way communication between teacher and students, among students, or even just among several different people who talk to each other ‘talk radio’ style within the podcast. The ‘magazine’ style examples were particularly effective.
A wide range of ideas and, even more importantly, examples were presented that made the case quite strongly. I particularly like the idea of using student-created podcasts for group or individual projects, reflective learning journals, and peer-to-peer mentoring. There was a hilarious video that was a student group project in which those obnoxious solicitor (lawyer) TV adverts were spoofed leading to a scienfitic explanation of rust (don’t ask!). There were also some nice examples of experienced students making podcasts to give incoming students tips on university life.
The materials, examples and ideas presented will make it easy for us to encourage academic staff to use this new technology in interesting, creative, and most importantly effective ways.
Meanwhile, I’m thinking of ideas for my own podcasts…shifting from snapshots to sound bytes. Watch this space!