Podcasts are entertainment. At best Edutainment. Teachers and students must repurpose this technology in their minds inorder for it to become an effective educational tool. (Boulos, Maramba & Wheeler, 2006)
Teaching English affords the teacher a multitude of different teaching methods and devices. However not all teaching devices are equallyeffective. In order for a teaching device to be considered effective it must meet a criteria of three broad points:• Must be relevant to the student• Build on existing knowledge• Integrate effectively into the curriculum. One teaching device that achieves these ideals are podcasts. Podcasts are short; usually 3-5 minutes, small and free audio files that can be downloaded from the internet and accessed through computers, phones, iPods and many other common devices. The introduction of podcasts to the learning environment has taken three forms:* Reframed Information- This type of podcast is simply putting previously provided information into a new medium. For example ateacher may choose to record a lesson and release it as a podcast.• Complementary Information- Supportive information provided by the teacher in order to compliment and clarify previous information. For example a teacher may release a podcast clarifying points from the previous lesson.• Supplementary Information- Additional or new information not provided within the lesson. Interestingly a study shows that only fifty precent of students take advantage of the reframed podcasts, but that number is increased to seventy six precent with the supplementary podcasts. (Taylor, 2010). This suggests that students are willing and capable of accessing and absorbing new information through the medium of podcasts and setting goals of self efficacy.
Part of this willingness to adopt this new educational technology in students is the already pervading presence of podcasts and the media toutilise them in society. (Scutter, 2010). Thus the student is provided with an already relevant platform for podcasting to be integrated withusual teaching practices. Compare this with previous technological teaching artefacts such as ‘Powerpoint’ and ‘Microsoft Word’. Other suchprograms in the past have been limited to school use and the minority of students at home due to their specialised use and niche’ market.However with podcasts the infrastructure and history of use is already established, thus providing a real world connection to both the studentand teacher.Further highlighting the ease of use is the effectiveness of podcasts in teaching English as Second Language (ESL) students. ESL studentsgained a significant increase in comprehension through use of podcasts (Eliot, 2009). Due to the many ESL students unfamiliarity withthe written english and english classrooms, podcasts provide a relevant and simple to use method of education that also has a real worldconnections through the focus on speech for them. This growing familiarity with Australian english through the use of podcasts for ESLstudents has then shown to support a better learning environment and self efficacy for the students (Taylor, 2010).This ease of use also extends to the teacher and students creating the podcast. Due to the prevalence of podcasts and the technologyrequired, schools have found podcasts to be cheap, easy to make and distribute (Scutter, 2010). Due to this ease and familiarity with thetechnology educators are able to quickly provide podcasts to their students effectively and set stimulating tasks without fear ofcomplexity. One such example is of a teacher providing a complimentary podcast for their students about issues raised during class thatvery afternoon. As opposed to previous applications such as ‘Microsoft Word’ that did not provide the ease of use or linking; podcastsallow the establishment of a community that allows easy access and communication.
Due to this ease of linking and consumption, students are able to choose their own learning. Constructivism provided by the podcasts leads toa more effective and relevant education (Dobozy, 2007). This call for relevancy is sync with the ‘Quality Teaching’ module, while also creatinga relevant connection between learning and technology.The mobile nature of the podcast allows students to access it at school, home or anywhere with an mp3 player. Having a tool that is able tobe utilised in so many different ways involves the student. This provides a constructivist learning environment ,allowing the student to choosethe time, place and pace of their learning. Through this the student becomes aware of self efficacy and involved in their own learning, thuscreating a connection between the home and education provided by the podcast.Also, still considering cognitive load theories, while learning from podcasts students are encouraged to learn through multiple senses. Theconstructivist advantage of podcasts allows the students to combine the podcast with visual aids, slide show presentations, notes,summarisation and other learning techniques; allowing the student to tailor their learning experience to what is most individually effective. Inthis way podcasts are better able to integrate with the students current knowledge and experience as opposed to strictly text educationaltechnology artefacts such as ‘Microsoft Word’.
Due to this unique position of podcasts in society and technology they are able to uniquely influence the teaching and learning of English. Theconstructivist elements of self efficacy in time, place and place of learning for the student with the easily digestible and accessible nature ofpodcasts allows the English classroom to become a learning environment.Teachers would be able to record chapters of a novel the classroom is studying to a podcast and release them daily. This would allow thestudents who learn better through audio to better able to absorb the information. At the end of each podcast the teacher could introduce aline of questioning or discuss events and literary devices apparent within the chapter. This would allow the learning environment to extendbeyond the classroom in a form more easily accessible and less obtrusive then worksheets and books.Lectures could be provided online for students to access at home, with the possibility for growth being enormous. Schools could provide anational database of podcasts, available to every student providing students the opportunity to hear from the best teachers in the country aswell as establishing a wider learning environment and an increased focus on self efficacy.The podcast, as opposed to other educational technology artefacts, is able to provide a better learning environment and self efficacy to thestudent. Due to the existing popularity, availability and cheap and ease of podcasts the technology is able to create real world connectionsand relevance to the student while also connecting to the student’s existing knowledge and skills.
Reference: Boulos, M.N.K, Maramba, I. & Wheeler. (2006). Wikis, blogs and podcasts: a new generation of web based tools. BMC Medical Education, 6:41. Carpenter, B. and Gordon T. (2001). The rhetoric and reality of good teaching. Higher Education, 42(2), 191-203 Dobozy, E. (2007) The digitilisation of pedagogy. Eliot, Elizabeth. (2009). To podcast or not to podcast?. Uniserve Science Oct 1, 30-36. Jonassen, D., Campbell, J. and Davidson, M. (1994). Learning with Media: Restructuring the debate. Educational Technology, Research and Development, 42 (2), 31-39 Scutter, Shield (2010). How do students use podcasts to support learning? Australasian Journal of Educational Technology. 26 (2) 180-191.Taylor, Lucy (2010). Educational Design of short, audio-only podcasts: the teacher and student experience. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology. 26(3) 386-399.