The upcoming Podcasting Boot Camp is well suited for the world of education. Listening to digital audio content won’t replace reading, listening to live presentations, or the multitude of other ways learners take in information, but it can augment those methods. The following are ways that podcasting can contribute to the learning process.

1.) Assist auditory learners. Proponents of podcasting point out that the medium is perfect for learners who prefer to take in information aurally. Margaret Maag, an assistant professor at the University of San Francisco’s School of Nursing, has recorded her classroom lectures and posted them on a secure website since learning about podcasting from an Educause webinar in March 2005. She explains to students that the purpose is to help audio learners retain the information covered. Even though critics initially said students would stop attending classes, Maag found that attendance did not in fact decline, because students “didn’t want to miss what was going on.”


2.) Provide another channel for material review. Listeners with other types of learning styles can benefit from podcasts as well. When material is delivered orally, as in university lectures, classroom-based training, or in-person presentations, podcasting can ease learner worries that they missed key information in their note-taking. The audio files can be reviewed at their leisure for understanding or before testing. In Maag’s end-of-course survey, this was a main reason students rated the recorded lectures as a strength of the course.



3.) Assist non-native speakers. Learners who aren’t yet proficient in the language may struggle to keep up with lectures or presentations. Being able to review recordings of those events as many times as necessary for understanding can be of great benefit. Podcasting can also be an excellent technology for learning a language, not only for listening to speech and pronunciation but also, in combination with a recording device, for capturing a learner’s own speech for review by themselves or a teacher. (See Englishcaster, podcast lessons and radio-style shows for English-language learners.)



4.) Provide feedback to learners. In addition to recording her lectures, Margaret Maag uses her MP3 player to record feedback on her students’ group presentations, creating a 3- to 4-minute file for upload. She says, “I think a professor’s voice adds to the feedback and it saved me a lot of time at the end of the semester.” This use can apply not only to instructors but also to learners, who could record and podcast peer feedback.



5.) Enable instructors to review training or lectures. Another benefit of recording her lectures, Margaret Maag says, is that she can “critique them as a method of improving my teaching style.” Archived online learning events already provide this benefit to instructors. Now podcasting can offer the same advantages for classroom-based teaching and training. In addition, managers who want to review their staffs’ instruction could subscribe to the podcasts as well.


6.) Replace full classroom or online sessions when content simply requires delivery. In many cases, learning requires interaction, questioning, practice, and so forth. But when what’s required is simple delivery of information, a full-fledged in-person or online course may not be necessary. Podcasting can alert learners that there is new material to be accessed and then allow them to access it whenever, wherever they want.



7.) Provide supplementary content or be part of a blended solution. When a full course is necessary, there may be occasions when supplementary material would be helpful to learners. Subject-matter-expert interviews are just one example of this type of content. The material could be available for access on a voluntary basis, or it could be a required component of a classroom or online course in a blended solution. In any case, the RSS technology allows instructors to make the material easily accessible to learners and to alert them when new content is in the pipeline.



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