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(Document started on 17 Oct 2005.) (Document editing on "podcasts" ended on 11 Nov 2008.) This is a WWW document maintained by Steve Draper, installed at You may copy it. How to refer to it.

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Podcasting and podlearning site

By Steve Draper,   Department of Psychology,   University of Glasgow.

This page is about using podcasting in connection with learning, particularly at the University of Glasgow (at least from one person's angle on it). The good news is that the Chancellor's Fund is now supporting Joe as a research assistant for a year (July 2007-8), and anyone who would like to draw on his advice and support should contact him or me or both. (A single combined page for convenient printing is here).

Contents (click to jump to a section)

  • Podcasts recommended by and for GU members
  • Introduction for complete outsiders
  • Papers and articles
  • Courses using podcasting in 2005-6
  • Courses using podcasting in 2006-7
  • Courses using podcasting in 2007-8
  • Other applications
  • Other Links
  • Contact Joe Maguire

    Introduction for complete outsiders

    Recent developments in technology make it very, very easy to record and distribute audio recordings (and indeed other file types) regularly. The distribution is known as podcasting, and can be done on almost any PC. The recordings can be listened to on a PC or on personal audio players such as the Apple iPod.

    To test whether there is any educational benefit to be had by exploiting this, Joe Maguire recruited two lecturers and five courses in the 2005-6 session. Lecturers and seminars were recorded and distributed; and evaluations done based on staff and student opinions. These proved strongly positive. Since this relies only on equipment the university and students already own, the only barrier to rapid expansion of this is communicating the advantages and promoting ways of using it.

    The most obvious application is recording lectures, and circulation of the audio recordings could become as standard as providing lecture notes or slides on the web. The effect of this is probably going to be as various as lecturing styles: for instance in dense lectures, students (especially foreign students) may welcome being able to listen without taking notes, and then re-listen to the recording to update their notes; while in sparse cases e.g. where a topic as student already knows is being gone over again, they may choose not to attend, but listen to the recording at a convenient moment to check they haven't missed any points. However the most interesting issues in the longer term are probably going to be other kinds of recording. Already a hit on one course was recording seminars: the recordings allowed staff and students to discover what went on in the other group's discussions. And it allows staff to record and distribute short talks: perhaps with a different tone, of a different length (no need to think in 50 min. chunks). Even more interesting would be getting student comments and reactions to the current topic, and have these circulated as a collection of short spoken pieces. Current technology promotes class discussions by text e.g. in emails, VLE discussion forums; but most people feel more spontaneous when speaking rather than writing. Current technology would allow discussion to be promoted in this older medium and circulated outwith booked teaching rooms.

    From the point of view of the field of educational technology there are several notable features of this. It takes technology (iPods, podcasting) that are already used by students, and asks how to get educational value from them, rather than introducing new devices. It matches the central activity of our teaching: lecturing, and seeks to get additional value from these occasions. Further, the podcasting mechanism allows bundling of the heterogenous media used in practice in lectures: audio, handouts, short videos. It also matches the way most courses evolve during delivery, in response both to the audience (which topics seem to need more time, different examples, etc.), and to the presenter (e.g. material dropped due to lack of time). This responsiveness is a feature, not a defect. The ready mechanism of progressive updates also matches and promotes a sense of community and interaction. If student discussions can be launched as part of the circulated material, then these would be further enhanced.

    From the viewpoint of policy issues:

    Papers and articles

    Joe's original report:
    Maguire,J. (2006)
    Podlearning: Reality of a mobile learning method
    (Dept. of Computing science, University of Glasgow)
    PDF (0.5Mbytes)
    A journal article on the same work:
    Draper, S.W. & Maguire,J. (2007)
    "Exploring podcasting as part of campus-based teaching"
    Practice and Evidence of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education" vol.2 no.1 pp.42-63
    PDF / HTML

    General articles

    Learning while commuting? Train Train

    Courses using podcasting in 2005-6

  • Main web page (HATII server)
  • Example URL for iTunes:
  • Library podcasts

  • Courses

    Courses using podcasting in 2006-7

    Use of podcasting at University of Glasgow is continuing and expanding this session, even without Joe working on it.

  • Library podcasts: Introduction     podcasts

  • Courses

    Courses using podcasting in 2007-8

  • Catalogue of university podcasts, including courses under "Tasters"

    Now that Joe is employed for this, we expect course-related podcasting to expand substantially, no doubt spearheaded by HATII who led this at Glasgow.

    I expect the HATII courses above to use podcasting again. Psychology and Computing Science are recording their level 1 lectures. Archaeology is recording is level 1 and level 2 lectures, and will attempt to provide "video podcasts" of the level 2 lectures that combine the slides with the audio. I believe also that Martin Hendry of Physics will be offering recordings of both his level 2 and honours lectures.

    Other podcasting applications at Glasgow University

    Other new applications will include the Newsdesk, the Library which has already made a splash, and the Hunterian which didn't need us to start work on podcasting.

    Other Links

  • Other links: other sites using iPods for education

  • AAC format for audio files (improvement on MP3).

    Contact Joe Maguire

    Joe currently is employed until Dec 2014.

    .. Joe Maguire Joseph.Maguire AT



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