Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Podcasting in learning and teaching - two examples from practice

My attempt to blog through the conference was slightly constrained by the absence of wireless access in the Law and Social Science Building , I must stop winging it is out of character honest, I'm normally a positive person! But while I'm winging I think there should be a bus or ski-lift to the building, not only did it not have wireless, but I thought I might need oxygen after the climb up to it. I know I'm not fit, but this went beyond the normal gentle walk, still I guess with Glamorgan's mountain side campus I can't say much :-)

Anyway in the 2.15 - 3.15 session we had two presentations both on podcasting. Both took the case study approach to report on what had been done in their context and provided data on the student experience/performance based on that.

The first presentation was by Tim Barry of the University of Cumbria, and looked at the use of podcasting in supporting learners of Exercise Physiology (as you can imagine Tim wasn't as breathless as I after the hill walking!!) Tim was reporting on quantitative analysis he and colleagues had undertaken on the impact of podcasting elements of the course. A poster of the qualitative results is in the posted exhibition. The presentation was well structured, used Powerpoint well, and finished 30 seconds before the allotted time (as I was chairing the session it made my life much easier).

Tim was the lecturer involved in the delivery. The project was to address three questions:
  • Can podcasts enhance exam performance
  • Can the supplemental value of podcasts be assessed
  • Cost/benefits of using particular technologies
Key to the data collection was splitting the learners into two groups, one that reviewed the podcasts, the other that got transcripts of the podcasts but not the pods themselves. Pre and post MCQs were used to identify the student progress over four weeks.

Tim shared the url for his podcasts for anyone who wants to listen to them. The podcasts were voiced by two people, Tim and his colleague Grant, in an interview format. I'll make sure I show them to Glamorgan's sport scientists when I get back.

While Tim's data did not show any significance between those using podcasts and those who had the transcripts (The random groups started at means of 42 (podgroup) and 39 (textgroup) and ended up at 61 and 56 respectively. This effect is small. A member of the audience asked whether the key determinant in getting better grades overall was the supplemental material and not the media - Tim was inclined to agree. Details of the data are on Tim's slides which will be loaded to the ALT-C site shortly.

Some of the more interesting data was the limited use of MP3s and iPods among the students, most downloaded on the PC and listened there - a challenge perhaps to the ubiquity of the digital native concept.


The second presentation in the session was given by Ming Nie and Libby Rothwell who are both involved in the IMPALA project which is focused on podcasting. Again a really interesting reflection on the use of podcasting was offered. In this case a level 4 intercultural communication module offered in semester 1 of the first year undergraduate programme across a faculty was the focus.

In this case the focus was on developing understanding and collaboration among the students. The podcasts were made available via Blackboard every two weeks. They included interviews with staff and students, discussion on assessment tasks, top-tips from the student mentors, tutor feedback on relevant student queries or on formative assessment and pointers to additional support for academic and/or personal development. The informal nature of the podcasts is what makes them stand out. In one example we heard to student mentors reflecting on a case study on critical reading, which was part of the student assessment. Again for me the informality made these podcasts sound much more user friendly than more formal scripted sessions might do.

The evaluation undertaken by Ming included staff and student interviews, a student focus group and a final questionnaire. Key issues which emerged:

  • Podcasts capture informal knowledge which is not often captured in other contexts
  • Podcasts allow for flexibility for the learner and more learner control
  • Podcasts work very well for audio-learners
  • Students are motivated not by having podcasts nut when they clearly support their own learning
Next steps are two develop podcasts for the academic support centre at Kingston.

The question and discussion session worked well with many people raises issues and queries, I guess it would be best to have podcast them, but no one had a recorder.

Overall though a useful session which showed the way podcasts could be used in a wide variety of contexts and how different styles of podcasting are useful in different contexts.

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