What is the educational value of using podcasting in an educational setting? Karen Oliveira: I think the educational value of using podcasting is found mainly in the increased interest and enthusiasm it generates in today's students. It takes technology and processes that they are already quite comfortable and familiar with and adds another dimension. According to studies from Duke and Washington University, professors are reporting that there has been a decrease in students dropping classes when podcasting is involved in the course and also a marked increase in student comprehension and interest and better student evaluations of courses. I liked the podcast of the 7th grade ELA teacher explaining how she used podcasts in her curriculum and how she spoke about having a podcast of her right next to something from her students' favorite rock stars! Some of my more contemporary colleagues are beginning to create their own websites for their students and a few are taking a stab at using podcasts, with mixed re sults. One of the main issues that they're running into with using podcasts in our particular situation and school is the dreaded digital divide. We are a very large urban district, with a big percentage of our student body coming from lower- income families (many who do not own a computer in their homes), so the issue of access comes into play in this case. There has been some discussion about whether podcasts should be downloaded and viewed outside of school (as a form of homework or an extra study aid, for example) or if the teachers should schedule lab time and take the whole class to a lab to watch the podcast as a classwork activity. Time will tell how this situation plays out. I feel there is much to be gained from educational podcasting. It provides another level of subject reinforcement in a convenient, attractive, and easy to digest little morsel. Jim D’Attilo: Sometimes I feel like a jaded old miser who can't see the value of wasting money on indoor plumbing for the staff. But really- I'm not! I love technology. I love wires and buttons and lights. But I do tend to take things with a grain of salt. I think podcasting has a number of benefits- in particular while it compares to a written blog, and could be used in much the same way, there are many students who would find it more engaging. Sound and video could go a long way toward eliminating the sterility of text based presentations, and restoring some of the human interaction that much technology represents. That said, I do not think pod casting is the next holy educational grail. (In fact, very few Holy Educational Grails ever turned out to be Holy Educational Grails- in the end, they just turned out to be good drinking cups) Like everything else, it has a place and a use, but in moderation. It will not change the face of education, it will just add to it. Also, like web pages and other and other promising goodies, they take time to create, not to mention the equipment software and learning curve. Amy Kaye-Peterson: Though blatantly Macintosh, I really enjoyed the educational tab on the Apple educational resources site in regard to podcasting. The educational value is HUGE! I envision podcasting as the natural linear progression from PowerPoint as a key tool in educational presentation. It becomes multi-dimensional with the addition of tracks of different media; sound, voices, etc. The Part 1 Introduction to Podcasting was a very realistic introduction to the work it takes to organize and coordinate your material for presentation. I liked the middle school administrator who targeted the human voice enrichment when compared to words sitting flatly on the page – or PowerPoint for that matter. – About PPT, it has always been my objective to teach students to create the slide show as a guide to direct and present, in a limited way, the information meant to be presented to the audience (not too many bells and whistles). The use of voice recording now completes the message that a PowerPoint was meant to get across. The same administrator commented on pre-existing information in the form of recorded drama that now can be placed in a medium where it can, once again, be appreciated. The podcasting bridges the archived material with the present day uses for it. The cherry on the administrators praise of podcasting was the obvious educational benefit of students using podcasting is the development of researchers and creators of content rich materials. There were lots of online examples of many podcasts. Quick and Dirty Tips’ Grammar Girl is a hoot, including her photo library of incorrect grammar in the world around us. The animated voice drew me in and I listened to grammar examples as if it were the first time I had heard them. Since this is inherently Mac technology – what about PC users? What is the PC equivalent of GarageBand? Is Quicktime the ultimate format to cross operating systems? Can an animated clip (Flash) be added on the GarageBand tracks? Are there effects that can be added to the image track to spice up the show – I am inspired now to try my hand at a podcast, too. -Amy Kristen Owens: I am a firm believer that podcasting has a great future, and for that matter a current position in the classroom. It is time to get rid of those old school 80's videos that would bore you to death as a student and a teacher, and replace them with updated, more interesting and upbeat podcasts. Podcasts are beneficial to all the players within the classroom environment. They help to enhance lessons and the learning process immensly. Teachers can use or create podcasts to supplement textbook material that otherwise could be mundane and boring to students. At the same token, kids can create podcasts from oridinary material and turn them into great products of their learning. Students can create podcasts for projects and study guides among other endless possibilities. Podcasting is a technology which cant be ignored, and should be incoporated into curriculums due to its power as an enhancement for learning and instructional tool. -KO Keri Maguire: There are a number of advantages to using podcasting in the classroom. The first advantage would be as a tool for students when asked to research various topics. There are many sites which allow you to download podcasts free of charge. The accessibility of these podcasts and the fact that they may provide them with an alternaive point of view - other than their teachers' - can be extremely valuable. In addition, students could choose to record a webcast as a school project in place of the powerpoint presentation or even the more basic story board. The idea of researching a topic and then developing the podcast is a great way to incorporate technology into a general lesson plan. Finally, the teacher's effective use of podcasting could also benefit the students. For example, if a teacher records some of his/her lectures and then downloads the information to a website, students can either listen to the lecture a second time or they have the benefit of hearing the lecture if they were out sick or missed class for another reason. There is concern about the digital divide and how this move to podcasting may negatively impact those without access to a home computer or even an IPod from which to download. However, as the posted links stated, you do not need an IPod to take advantage of podcasting - you can download most directly to your computer. Students without access to a home computer would have to utilize classroom time/resources to take advantage of this technology tool which is not ideal. Brett McCoy: It's funny, in my school life I am always at odd with the other teachers who are either fearful of technology or just don't see the point, but in this class I'm always playing the downer. Maybe I just like playing devil's advocate.... but on with the discussion. I don't think I've ever seen an educational technology create as much buzz as the concept of podcasting. It is surely a technology with great potential. However there are some huge hurdles to be adopted before it can be successfully implemented. 1 - The digital divide. One of us (sorry, can't remember who) already brought up the issue of children who don't own or have access to a PC or iPod so I won't go any further here. 2 - Time - the only way I see teachers really using podcasting fully is if it is an automated process. I hear at BU and some other colleges lectures and discussions are automatically recorded and posted without any effort required from the teacher. This is awesome! I don't think anyone could expect your typicall k-12 teacher to add the burden of recording and feeding their lectures or notes via podcast on top of their current responsibilities. 3 - Cost - always an issue but with grants and time, schools should be able to tackle this without too much trouble (except for maybe the pre- mentioned auto-cast) 4 - Effectiveness - while the initial results have been promising it should be noted that most anecdotes or data relating to podcasts are from colleges. College students are obviously a very different group than middle school students. My fear is that after the novelty has worn off, this will just be another thing that students either must read and use or simply ignore (like the information in the text book, the notes the teacher's web site, the handouts, etc) when doing work. To summarize, I think podcasting has tremendous potential. I like the fact that it does not require reading. (Great for kids with reading issues) It's just that like anything else, it has its hurdles and is no "magic bullett". Instead, it is one component in the array of educational technologies. Jason Soslow: While looking at the burgeoning list of videos, both educational and otherwise, that are now available on Itunes, I was struck by the reality that hand held video players and web connecting devices like the IPhone are kind of sneaking in the back door while everyone looks for the ubiquitous low cost student laptop to take wing. I was playing with an IPod "touch" the other day at an Apple store and thought the little thing was really remarkable. They are popping up all over the place at school and kids are starting to use them as generalized media storage, sharing and playback devices. Obviously the little screen is not useful for every application - especially text intensive ones - but kids are never far away from a video monitor and keyboard these days, both at home at school. Also, while playing with the Ipod Touch, I was surprised at how usable that little 3" screen actually is. I could easily sit there and watch a 30 minute television show (especially when immersed in the ear-bud stereo sound environment). I even think I could watch the tiny new Nano screen (though, that's stretching it). But the Ipod Touch screen size is no joke. It's very easy to imagine watching a downloaded video lecture or PowerPoint presentation. One educational hurdle that needs to be overcome is the fact that while many kids have these things, many still don't. If I put up key lectures on Itunes as video podcasts, is that giving an unfair advantage to the digitally privileged? Huntley Harrison: After reading the podcasting posts this evening, I believe there is a place for this technology in an educational environment; however, like anything there are the pros and cons. The links provide a wealth of examples that certainly are enticing and make for great food for thought, but as Brett pointed out what teacher has the time to put an interesting podcast together that will attract students, ultimately capture their interest, and enhance their learning. Also, as happened to me with one of the links (Part 2: Meeting Standards with Podcasting)) on the Apple site, I couldn’t listen to it because it didn’t load on my PC. Perhaps it was something I did or didn’t do, but what if I were a student with that assignment due tomorrow – SOL. It has to work perfectly all of the time to be effective. We all have experienced the frustration when technology doesn’t function as promised. To involve students the Podcast will need to be short, to the point, and would be better if it were a Vodcast using video. I just don’t see secondary students walking home from school listening to a lecture on their iPod. Sitting in the library, at home, or under a tree watching and listening to a video with sound makes a whole lot more sense to me. But again, even with the easy technology available to create one, who would have the time to put together a quality show, for multiple lessons? And what is the worth of doing it just once? I also worry about the digital divide, but more for the handicapped students who have rea l difficulty accessing anything, much less an iPod, than I do the “underprivileged.” This latter group has pretty much only money to worry about and probably could arrange access to a Podcast through a school or public library computer, if they didn’t have one of their own. The handicapped kids may have problems seeing and/or hearing, so they may miss it all together. Believe me I’m not totally against the idea of P/Vodcasts. In fact I rather like the concept, but I do think that if they are to be successfully integrated into a curricular area, there will have to be a great deal of time spent on training, lesson planning, script writing, and production. Wow, more power to you if you can figure that one out. Jim D’Attilio: Sometimes I feel like a jaded old miser who can't see the value of wasting money on indoor plumbing for the staff. But really- I'm not! I love technology. I love wires and buttons and lights. But I do tend to take things with a grain of salt. I think podcasting has a number of benefits- in particular while it compares to a written blog, and could be used in much the same way, there are many students who would find it more engaging. Sound and video could go a long way toward eliminating the sterility of text based presentations, and restoring some of the human interaction that much technology represents. That said, I do not think pod casting is the next holy educational grail. (In fact, very few Holy Educational Grails ever turned out to be Holy Educational Grails- in the end, they just turned out to be good drinking cups) Like everything else, it has a place and a use, but in moderation. It will not change the face of education, it will just add to it. Also, like web pages and other and other promising goodies, they take time to create, not to mention the equipment software and learning curve. Paul Sullivan: With any of the “emerging” technologies there seems to be a significant “novelty factor” that must be addressed. Where does the novelty end and the functionality begin? Put another way, why go through the expense of acquiring the equipment and effort of mastering the knowledge and skills necessary to use a new technology. Initially, there is the element of for the fun of it. In education there is the claim of increased “engagement. ” However, once the newness and the novelty wear off, what is the value? Only when that question has been answered can the real function of a technology be discerned. In education, the answer must always be that the technology allows a process to happen better or more effectively that traditional means could have achieved. As I went through the materials posted for Podcasting this past week, I was looking for the answer to the above question. In essence it was like a Wendy’s commercial asking, “Where’s the beef?” There were a couple things that struck me. The first is that through Podcasting, one can communicate more information to a much larger audience than via traditional means. Traditionally, one could always post text on the web via a web site. However, through the use of audio, and especially video, much more information can be transferred than through text and numbers alone. I supposed one can post an audio or video file on a web site. However, when one does that, one has for all intends and purposes created a podcast, just without the subscription process or format offered by a podcast host such as iTunes. Beyond those factors, the benefit that struck me most grew out of my experience working in the printing business with my father when I was growing up. One can write manuscript all one wants to and there is always the opportunity for revision. However, when something “goes to print” it must be exact and as close to perfection as it can be because once it is published it is “out there” and cannot be brought back. Thus, whether it is a published article or book, a live musical performance or a recording, what goes out is exact and final. The educational benefit of this reality relative to podcasting is that it demands a focus on quality from students that would not be as automatically achieved by media that would remain in the classroom, or be posted on the hallway bulleting board, or be taped to the home refrigerator. When one goes past the factors of new and cool one comes to the factors of complete and exact. These are process goals of any academic discipline that are drawn out and formalized by podcasting. As an aside: This week’s Discussion Board forum on Podcasting was a really great advertisement for Apple Corporation. I think they owe you a commission.
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