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Podcasting as student-led educational technology

Date/time: Tuesday 25 April 2006. Session: 11am-12
Place: St Andrew's building, Glasgow University, room 433 CPD suite
Occasion: Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Symposium: Practice and Evidence


Steve Draper,   Department of Psychology


This talk reports work done by Joe Maguire as his final year undergraduate project in computing science.

We recruited five courses in the 2005-6 session, and offered an extra auditory dimension to the participants: lectures, seminars, and informal student discussions were recorded and distributed for (re)listening on personal music players such as the Apple iPod. Delivery to personal players supports one kind of flexible delivery, allowing learners to listen to educational material as they commute, walk, or wait. The recordings can also be heard on any desktop computer, and any other MP3 player; but one fifth of students already own the market leader: Apple iPods. Evaluation, using questionnaires and interviews of students and staff, found strong positive responses from both learners and teachers.

The theoretical rationale is also novel:

  1. "Student-led educational technology": what modern technology already has a large niche in student everyday life? personal MP3 music players.
  2. How could it be given an educational dimension? podcasts of course-related material.
  3. The user interface. A familiar barrier to uptake is the learning and other usability costs of any new technology. Apple iPods have a tremendously good user interface. This idea is to select educational technology for having the best user interface.

A striking feature of podcasting technology is not only the extreme ease of use of the controls, but its fit to existing practices: podcasts allow bundling of diverse media types, including all those seen in typical lectures (audio track, video clips, still images, PDFs of handouts). Progressive updates also match the way many face to face courses are modified and supplemented dynamically during delivery. This also allows discussion by this particular student cohort to be included.

Some notes on podcasting are also available.

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