Engaging students beyond the classroom: The experience of a
podcasting project1

This paper explores one attempt to integr...
This project was based at the University of Leeds in the UK. The initial
proposal was to engage PIR students and tutors at...
bookmarking allows those interested in a particular topic to create a link to a
relevant site that like-minded individuals...
2001), although obtaining high response rates in student surveys is hard-just
look at some NSS response rates!

Our survey...
more to the table in terms of their research and insight because they were
aware that their peers would be using the mater...
illustrate not only the revision function of the podules but also how they allow
the tutor to expand upon debates raised i...
Asking students to summarise seminars can be seen as them participating in
their own learning or active learning (see Pown...
One of the perceived advantages of podcasts is that they appeal to students
with different learning styles and they also o...
were therefore for fun and entertainment, not for politics and international
relations podcasts!

Students thought podcast...
equipment, associated with the use of e-learning tools as too high. Perhaps
more of an issue is that there often needs to ...
course design needs to accommodate this diversity of styles (Sims and Sims,
1995).

Podcasts clearly appeal to auditory le...
argue that podcasting allows ‘students to articulate their understanding of
ideas and concepts, and to share the outcomes ...
Kiernan, A. (2008) ‘Can e-tools and the virtual learning environment
   successfully deliver active learning for active ci...
Sandars, J. and Schroter, S. (2007) ‘Web 2.0 technologies for undergraduate
  and postgraduate medical education: an onlin...
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5
×

Eliss paper march 09

676 views

Published on

Published in: Education, Technology
0 Comments
0 Likes
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Views
Total views
676
On SlideShare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
2
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
3
Comments
0
Likes
0
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Eliss paper march 09

  1. 1. Engaging students beyond the classroom: The experience of a podcasting project1 This paper explores one attempt to integrate podcasts into the teaching of US Foreign Policy. As per the theme of the special issue it highlights how this initiative provided new and stimulating opportunities for learning, it also presented a number of challenges. There are three main elements that run through the whole paper. The first is the outline of the project, its pedagogic background and what we did. Examples of a social bookmarking site, student podcasts and lecturer podcasts can be accessed via a blog. The second element, utilising student surveys and student focus groups, outlines the positive and negative experiences of the students who took part in this pilot project. The third element of the paper discusses the practical problems encountered in putting this pilot into practice and how these were overcome. Keywords: podcasting, pedagogic research, Politics and International Relations Introduction: This research project explored the use of podcasts in the learning and teaching of Politics and International Relations (PIR) in a UK HE institution. The primary research question was the following: within a strategy of blended learning on campus, what added-value can the consumption and production of podcasts bring to the learning process within PIR? Podcasts are said to appeal to the ‘iPod generation’ or ‘digital natives’ and offer a means of stimulating new interest in material that might otherwise fail to capture student imagination (see Lane, 2006; Lee et al, 2008; Swain, 2006). During the period of the grant, a research assistant was employed whose role was to help survey student opinion, to collect relevant podcasts for the students to ‘consume’ and to help the students produce their own podcasts. Overall the project team assisted students and teachers in the consumption of podcasts by creating a website and ‘listening list’ of relevant material; we surveyed student attitudes on the use of podcasts in higher education; we worked with staff and students to produce podcasts. This paper identifies the key findings of the project, demonstrates both staff produced and student produced podcasts, and provides an overview of some of the practical and technical issues associated with the use of podcasts in teaching and learning in Higher Education. Activities: 1 We would like to thank John Craig, Gabriela Pleschova, Rebecca Enyon and an anonymous referee for their comments on earlier drafts. An earlier version was presented at the 4th HEA Academy Annual Conference Harrogate 2008. This project was funded by the subject centre for Politics, C-SAP Tranche 7 Funding. Their generous support is acknowledged with thanks. Thanks also go to Esther Jubb, Simon Davis and Melissa Highton for their much appreciated assistance with the project.
  2. 2. This project was based at the University of Leeds in the UK. The initial proposal was to engage PIR students and tutors at two UK universities, although eventually the comparative element of the programme was dropped due to problems at university two, an issue that will be explored later. One module, PIED3402 American Foreign Policy at the University of Leeds, was chosen to act as a pilot. We chose this module in part because the use of podcasting as a medium for the conduct of politics is particularly pronounced in the United States (Windham, 2007). Podcasts can also help students and teachers overcome one of the challenges associated with studying Politics and International Relations; that of currency. As a discipline we are forced to confront the problem that our subject changes more quickly than many other subjects. The recent change of administration in the USA provides an excellent example. Barack Obama has now been President for over one hundred days and in that time made some radical changes to the direction of US Foreign Policy. The nature of academic publishing means that these changes will not yet be being analysed in books or journal articles, a gap that can partially be filled by podcasts that are produced by US think tanks, academics or politicians themselves. There is also a wide range of material produced that students and teachers alike can utilise. A brief look at the range of material on the itunes-u site shows that as a discipline we have an amazing amount of material to tap into. Despite this, the use of podcasts on undergraduate modules is a relatively new phenomenon, especially in the field of International Relations (see Roberts, 2008 as a notable, but US based, exception). Dr. Ralph had been using podcasts from major American universities, think–tanks and other research institutes to inform his research for a number of years. It was his attempt to link this method of research to his teaching that inspired the project. We set out to ensure that the technological innovations were used to enhance rather than replace good standard practice. To do this, we carefully considered the use of podcasts in light of the pedagogic research, student focus groups, and perhaps most importantly, the overall module aims and objectives.2 The module is structured around the key ideas that shape the American national identity (e.g. exceptionalism, republicanism, liberalism) and its foreign policy (e.g. internationalism, isolationism, realism, neoconservatism) and many of the podcasts discussed above cover these topics and give UK based students an excellent insight into the debates these types of topics stimulate in the USA. Actually hearing the debates rather than reading them online say, can really show the controversies these issue raise to students who may not be familiar with the political context. Initial Plan The initial plan was to create a web-based library of audio material that had been podcasted. The difficulty with this was that copyright laws prevented us from uploading material that had already been downloaded from another source. Our solution was to use a social bookmarking site grazr.3 Social 2 See the following link to see module aims and objectives: http://webprod1.leeds.ac.uk/banner/dynmodules.asp?Y=200809&M=PIED-3402 3 See http://www.c-sap.bham.ac.uk/subject_areas/politics/polcasting/socialbookmark.html 2
  3. 3. bookmarking allows those interested in a particular topic to create a link to a relevant site that like-minded individuals can follow. Our podlibrary, in other words, is a collection of links to websites that host podcasts rather than a collection of files that have been downloaded and then uploaded again. In addition, the social bookmarking site potentially allows us to create a ‘community of practice’ whereby we can share information with other users, which includes other users posting relevant files. Unfortunately, we had a particular problem with grazr and we did not find it to be very user friendly. It was not clear how users could upload information without going through the project team, which defeated the object of this element of the project. Unless this issue can be resolved then we would recommend using other social bookmarking sites. Nevertheless, the links to podcasts were integrated into the module by embedding the links within the reading lists and lecture slides and also via a blog. Evidence of student uptake of this resource was available in student essays, particularly on the subject of the “Israel Lobby” and US foreign policy – a debate that has in part been conducted through audio programmes that have been podcasted.4 One student noted that ‘the blog had a lot of useful material in it, much of which I ended up using for my dissertation and essays’. Further research needs to be carried out as to what impact, if any, using podcasts has on student performance as neither this study nor previous studies can provide conclusive evidence either way as to their effect, although students often attribute good performance to podcasts (see Deal, 2007). One pedagogic benefit of podcasts is that it encourages students to critically assess digital media in the same way we encourage students to assess printed material and it reaffirms what the student has heard from the lecturer and read in the literature, but it does so through a different medium, thereby enhancing the teaching and learning experience for the student. As well as the consumption of material that had already been podcasted, the project aimed to assist students to produce their own podcasts. We were interested to examine the pedagogical benefits for the students of producing their own podcasts-did it assist them to achieve the module aims and objectives? Did it contribute to the knowledge of the subject area? To discover student attitudes to our plan, we conducted a survey of all POLIS students studying Politics and International Relations. It was managed via the Bristol online survey tool using questions already asked of medical students and professionals (see Sandars & Schroter, 2007). An incentive was offered to take part in the survey, with one student winning £50 worth of Amazon vouchers. The overall response rate was approx 17% (87/500) which we feel is relatively good for this an online survey.5 There is, of course, the suspicion that this 17% are the ‘digital natives’ who engage with technology (Prensky, 4 Those interested may wish to listen to the debate: http://sabbah.biz/mt/archives/2007/04/23/podcast- aipac-us-foreign-policy-debate-between-james-petras-norman-finkelstein/ 5 To see the results of the survey in full visit https://www.survey.bris.ac.uk/?surveyid=14999&op=results (Note to editor: Need to check this is not open to tampering) 3
  4. 4. 2001), although obtaining high response rates in student surveys is hard-just look at some NSS response rates! Our survey concurred with existing studies (Gribbins, 2007; Lane, 2006; Sandars & Schroter, 2007) that showed despite having MP3 players or phones, the majority of students listened to podcasts on their personal computers. Our survey findings also showed that the overwhelming majority of students rejected the idea that pre-recorded lectures should be used in place of the traditional lecture that required attendance (see IMPALA project; Clark, Westcott and Taylor, 2007; Draper & Maguire, 2007 for similar findings). As Table One shows, there is a clear indication that students would prefer to use downloadable audio files as a way of reinforcing, reviewing or revising what had been discussed in the lectures. Only one respondent said they would not use the downloadable material. Table One: If downloadable audio files (MP3 files and podcasts) were available to support your studies, when would you most likely use these educational materials? Please only choose one option. In place of attending 6.9% 6 lectures: As a way to reinforce or review what has been 60.9% 53 discussed in a lecture: As a revision aid before 31.0% 27 exams: Not at all: 1.1% 1 As a result of this survey, we abandoned plans to replace a lecture with a podcast, although we did uploaded one full-length lecture. Students were more receptive of what became known as “podules”. These are small files (which had technical advantages mentioned below) that were 5 to 10 minutes listening duration and produced by the lecturer to summarise the key point of the lecture, highlight a particular issue or act as a guide to further reading or listening. Our use follows the models trialled by the IMPALA project (Edirisingha &Salmon, 2007) and the University of Sydney (see Clark, Taylor & Westcott, 2007). The podules were set up for an RSS feed. It is this RSS feed, essentially a URL that can be inserted into an aggregator (e.g. iTunes) that enables subscribers to receive automatic downloads, is seen to be what makes a podcast a podcast. The podules acted as a means for the lecturer to do several things such as relate the lecture to the reading material, relate the student podcast which summarised the classroom discussion back to the lecture on that topic and link it to the forthcoming lecture - the idea here was to try to enhance the sense of continuity across the module - and, where necessary, correct the students on points of fact. This was an important function as a decision was taken not to edit the student produced podcasts for accuracy-the aim was that it was their work warts and all. However, one student told us that they ‘brought 4
  5. 5. more to the table in terms of their research and insight because they were aware that their peers would be using the material for revision in the run up to exams’. The next aspect of the project was the fact that we asked groups of students on the module to produce their own podcast summaries of the seminar discussion. They would decide how they wished their podcasts to be constructed (some chose interviews or three way discussions) to best present the material. The session was recorded by the project research assistant; using software called Audacity and then given an RSS feed. This system of producing the podcasts was created mainly because of the difficulty students would have had using Audacity on the student machines. We felt that had the technology been readily available it would have been easy for the students to use the package on their own. 6Alternatively, digital recorders could be used to record the discussions. To a large extent it is not the ability to use the technology that is a concern; it is getting student access to the technology easily on campus that is the main problem. The resulting podcast was placed upon a module blog only accessible to students registered upon the module. These student produced podcasts demonstrated excellent group working skills, initiative, self-organisation and time-management. Here we provide examples of two staff podules and two student recordings to show the above points in action. To provide some background podule one is the response by Author A to the student podcasts on the US constitutional and Foreign Policy which was examined in week 2. In particular, it examines the role of Congress and the Courts. Alex, Faye, Jamie and Jeremy summarised the discussions that took place in their respective seminar groups (and included some singing!). The students were asked to examine the following questions in their respective seminar groups: • Why were the founding fathers so keen on the ‘separation of powers doctrine’? How does the constitution separate foreign policy powers? • What structural problems prevent Congress from taking the lead in foreign affairs? • How has the “Israel lobby” ‘managed to divert US foreign policy … from what the American national interest would otherwise suggest’ (Mearsheimer and Walt, 2006a, p.1)?’ Wk2,Jan08,Liberal constitutionalism2.mp3 Wk2,Jan08,Liberal constitutionalism.mp3 The two student produced podcasts above show the level of engagement and intellectual insight the students brought to the task. These series of podule 6 Audacity is set up like a simple tape recorder. You simply press record, speak into a mic that is connected to the relevant socket of the PC and the software records your voice. 5
  6. 6. illustrate not only the revision function of the podules but also how they allow the tutor to expand upon debates raised in the lecture and to link this module to previous modules. If you look at the blog you can see Dr. Ralph’s responses to the comments raised by the students in their podcast, developing some of them and guiding the student to further reading. Jason-week 2podule.mp3 The same format was used when the module covered the views of the Realists in week 4, who examine the role of America as ‘a normal state’. The seminar questions were as follows: • We have come across Hamilton before as Pacificus. In week 2 we find him arguing that in relation to the Constitution the president should be allowed to take the lead in foreign policy. This is a key realist principle. Further on in his writings as Pacificus he gives advice on how the President should act in relation to other states (in this case France). What are the realist principles on display here? • What does Walter Russell Mead mean by ‘continental’ Realism? How does it differ from what he calls ‘Hamiltonian’ or ‘American’ Realism? • One group was asked to summarise the ideas of one of the following Realists: George Kennan, Hans Morgenthau. Henry Kissinger. Week4,Feb08,Realism1.mp3 Week4,Feb08,Realism2.mp3 week 4podule.mp3 The student podcasts here provide an excellent example of how the podcasts enabled students to engage with question one in particular in a novel way. Being able to listen again to the student debates and the lecturer’s podule from week two would not have been possible without the podcast and their existence brings clear value added here. Whilst all the student podcasts are available on the blog, we chose the examples from weeks two and four precisely because, to our mind, they illustrate nicely how podcasts can help students re-visit material throughout the module. What these student podcasts also show is the how the same format is used in different ways by the four students. If you listen to both podcasts you can really appreciate the advantage of using verbal summaries as a teaching and learning tool. They also highlight how in seminars the students pick up on different aspects of the question. As one student noted ‘whilst their primary reading was the same as our own, the secondary readings and discussions often differed from our own, and thus offered additional insight into the topics’. Other formats were also utilised throughout the module including a question and answer format. 6
  7. 7. Asking students to summarise seminars can be seen as them participating in their own learning or active learning (see Powner & Allendoerfer, 2008). Indeed Lee et al. argue that the true potential of podcasting technology lies in its knowledge-creation value, and its use as a vehicle for disseminating learner-generated content (Lee et al., 2008: 504). On a more practical level it allows students to gain an insight into the seminar discussions in other groups. To corroborate our findings and impressions were undertook focus-groups of final year students7. The main points from these groups were that having the podules was useful. One student stated that ‘listening to the Podcasts was useful as a kind of consolidation of some of the more complex issues which arose in the module’. Another argued that directing students to a ‘wide variety of sources [is] helping us to deepen our understanding of the discourses surrounding American foreign policy’. Of particular interest is the student produced podcasts 8 as they provided an innovative and interesting way for students to demonstrate achievement of the module aims, especially develop a reasoned argument, synthesise relevant information, exercise critical judgement, communicate effectively and fluently. According to one student these podcasts ‘made learning the subject more of a proactive and engaging process, rather than simply absorbing designated information for analysis, by forcing us to discuss and decide what was worth focusing on, what wasn't and what else we could find that had been overlooked etc’. Another argued that the process ‘not only deepened my understanding of American foreign policy but bolstered my ability to articulate the arguments involved’. It could be argued that these comments could have as easily been said about presentations or reporting back to a seminar group. However, there was something about producing a podcast that would be listened to by both staff and students (and that could be listened to again) that really focused the minds of those students who produced the podcasts. This is one of the main advantages of using podcasts-that the process of recording student presentations for consumption changes attitudes to the process. In relation to attendance, we found some interesting comments. Students like going to lectures and therefore do not want them to be replaced by podcasts. ‘University One is not a virtual university’ as one said. Another said that ‘I quite like going to lectures. I like listening to people. I like going to seminars as well. I like talking to people and interacting with people. Actually, I like getting a broad range of resources. It makes it more interesting if you’ve got a range of stuff to go to’. One anecdote at a conference was that it was like going to the cinema versus watching a dvd at home. You see the same film but sometime the collective cinema experience adds a new dimension (Kiernan, 2008). 7 Two focus groups were convened at the start of the semester two trials and two at the end. 8 See the blog for all the student and staff produced podcasts. 7
  8. 8. One of the perceived advantages of podcasts is that they appeal to students with different learning styles and they also overcome the issue associated with traditional lectures is that you only get one chance to hear it (Campbell, 2005; Knight, 2006). If you learn best via listening rather than reading this creates problems. You can re-read a text until you understand it. That option is not open to auditory learners. Podcasting lectures or seminars gives these students a choice about where and when to access digital material and how many times they wish to repeat it: ‘I think it [a podcast] would be good because sometimes if the lecture goes too fast you can’t actually take down the main point, so if you can pause it and play it whenever you want to then you can kind of note down the points at your own pace’. ‘I found week 8 so helpful for recapping and filling in which bits I missed in the lecture’. It also appeared to stimulate discussion outside the classroom: ‘We also found that because of the ease of access to the audio files on the blog many more students had been through a large percent of the material which led to discussions in the bar and outside of classes’. Podcasting lectures or seminars gives these students a choice about where and when to access digital material and how many times they wish to repeat it Student opinion was summarised by these statements: ‘I think I would listen to it for example on the way into uni or into town... so I can kill two birds with one stone’; or ‘there is plenty of time to kill on the bus... time’s not an excuse not to listen particularly to a 5 minute summary’ (Campbell, 2005 also notes this advantage of podcasts). One interesting comment was that producing podcasts helped one student consider how the spoken word can differ from written text in putting across meaning appropriately for academia. The seminars on this module encourage students to examine the issues surrounding US foreign policy. However, students only get to hear the views of students in their own seminar group. Asking students to summarise seminars can be seen as them participating in their own learning or active learning. Indeed the literature suggests that the true potential of podcasting technology lies in its knowledge-creation value, and its use as a vehicle for disseminating learner-generated content. As one student noted, podcasts allowed for ‘a deepening and widening of debate and discussion beyond confines of seminar’. Another noted that the student podcast would be ‘something different, to see what other opinions are in other seminar groups’. Students expressed a preference for a podcast using an RSS feed and thought this would make it easier and therefore more likely that they would use the additional material. “It would be easier if it came to you on iTunes rather than having to seek it out every week” or ‘it’s nice to have it delivered to you, to use when you want”. It was interesting that most students listened to podcasts on computers. One said that ‘I set up an RSS feed, and then listened on my laptop. I don’t own an MP3 player, and I think it is important to remember that not all students do, though I appreciate the majority probably do!’ However, another interesting issue arose with some students stating that they did not want their private and university lives to mix. Their MP3 players 8
  9. 9. were therefore for fun and entertainment, not for politics and international relations podcasts! Students thought podcasts could be made part of a structured learning process. Some asked for podules to be available prior to the lecture “...it’s the habit you could get into, just listening to the summary before you walk into the seminar or walking on your way to the lecture. If you listen to the summary first you know what he is going to talk about and then you could maybe take it in a bit better’. Technical Difficulties The project was affected by a number of technical problems. Whilst the creation of the pod library was a success, it did not, as noted above, work quite how we intended it. In part, this was due to technological problems that limited uploading rights to the member of the project team that had created the site. This meant that the social networking site did not function as ‘the community of practice’ as we intended. The other issue was how to handle large audio files. We created a blog to try to overcome space issues. The size of the files in MP3 format, even for the short time span of the podule, was too large to be handled by the University’s Portal, which had an upload limit of 1 MB! We would also “tag” these files so that they would be picked up by the student’s aggregator (for instance iTunes) and automatically downloaded for the student when they subscribe to the module blog using the RSS feed. This meant we could combine the storage elements of the blog with the interactivity a blog provides. This was created successfully but the fact that students had to go to a separate site for powerpoint slides (the University ‘Portal’), the blog for produced audio files as well as the social bookmarking site to consume podcasts was not necessarily user friendly. The introduction of a new Virtual Learning Environment (Blackboard) at Leeds should in future allow all elements to be in one place and for better monitoring of usage to be carried out. Other issues There were a number of issues that prevented our partner institution progressing at the same speed as University One. These included the fact that the module we identified as most appropriate ended up not being taught by the proposed lecturer due to her taking on a major administrative role at University Two. The person who taught the course did not share the enthusiasm of the project team and failed to promote the survey or encourage students to produce podcasts. We hoped that the proposed would be in position to facilitate focus groups at University Two as students had been exposed to the use of podcasts in previous modules, but her departure from the university meant that this was unable to happen. These problems with our partner institution highlight a classic problem associated with the use of IT in teaching and learning generally – encouraging staff to engage with its use and not be frightened of the technology. Some staff also see the start up costs, such as training and obtaining recording 9
  10. 10. equipment, associated with the use of e-learning tools as too high. Perhaps more of an issue is that there often needs to be a staff time commitment. This is often “additional work” for colleagues that often goes unseen in work-load models and the like, which can act as a disincentive for staff to become involved (see Gribbins, 2007). Implications: Our podcasting experience has met with a variety of reactions among students and staff, overall, it must be said, positive reactions. We have identified genuine benefits and concerns as voiced by students relating to the addition of podcasting to the range of methods currently used in academic teaching. These need to be taken seriously, but they do not rule out its further use as learning and teaching tool. We are conscious of the fact, however, that the present project has only actively engaged a minority of students. The majority overall seemed rather apathetic and did not (despite the reminders) really engage with the project. To some extent this was associated with the module running in the final semester of year three. The lack of a formal mark associated with participation lead some students, who view their degree rather instrumentally, to believe that the “extra” work involved was not worth the effort. Therefore, our project could be accused of allowing the majority to free ride on the work of the minority However, there is nothing unique about the use of podcasts in this regard. Whether we are discussing group work or participating in a seminar, there are long standing issues regarding ‘free riding’ by students (see Maranto and Gresham, 1998). Our view is that either the module needs to be totally restructured around the use of podcasting to increase the uptake of the additional material provided or that it needs to be utilised in a more systematic fashion throughout all levels in the School. Our study has shown that the technology has clearly worked and it has revealed the potential for, in particular, directly integrating student podcasts into the structure of the module. There is, it seems, no obstacle to either replacing or supplementing the traditional student presentation with a student podcast. Making this compulsory and assessing it would obviously increase student engagement with this practice. These trials have clearly demonstrated that the technology can be used to assess presentation skills, although it may raise ethical issues that need further exploration. Furthermore, the technology provides a record of presentations that can be consulted by external examiners in ways traditional classroom presentations cannot. Our project also contributes to the debate about learning styles. There is considerable research (see Kolb and Kolb, 2005; see also Ramsden, 2003) that highlights that students have different learning styles and that some of these learning styles are not normally favoured by traditional teaching methods in higher education. Although they do not focus on the above styles, Fox and Ronkowski (1997) have demonstrated that students in political science courses use a variety of learning styles and they suggested that instructors expand their teaching methods to address a broader number of learning styles. This finding is supported by Sims and Sims who argue that 10
  11. 11. course design needs to accommodate this diversity of styles (Sims and Sims, 1995). Podcasts clearly appeal to auditory learners, those who learn best through hearing things (Meng, 2005). An issue here is whether podcasting would change the balance between auditory learning and reading. In the traditional PIR) course the emphasis tends be on the latter and there is perhaps a danger that the use of podcasting may raise the false expectation that a student can do well in a module without doing the necessary reading. Indeed some are now arguing that e-technologies appear to be leading many students to use ‘‘lowest common denominator’’ information, with some arguing that e-technologies are more damaging to the undergraduate research and learning processes than they are worth (see Dolowitz, 2007). We feel that to place the blame solely on the shoulders of e-technologies is a bit like shooting the messenger. We do accept that e-technologies must be used appropriately hence the fact that our project carefully considered the pedagogic research, student focus groups, and perhaps most importantly, how podcasts would help the overall module aims and objectives. As we have argued before ‘Podcasting is merely a means of delivering teaching material, it does not dictate the nature of that material or its educational value’ (Authors, forthcoming). There is also evidence to suggest that the traditional 50 minute lecture is far from the most effective way of making use of the average student’s attention span (Read, 2005). Lecturers support these findings with anecdotal evidence of ‘losing’ the students in the second half of the lecture. Providing podcasts allows students with a means of ‘re-attending’ the lecture in their own time, or at least having the capacity to revise those points that may have been delivered at a point beyond their attention span (see Kumar, 2003). The pedagogic issues associated with podcasting include the fact that not all students will have access to or be familiar with the technology, students with some disabilities will have difficulty using podcasts, and listening to podcasts could be a passive learning activity (see SDDU, 2007). This paper is not the place to engage in a full debate about whether or not current students are digital natives. However, it is clear that being familiar with certain aspects of technology such as video games, mobile phones or Facebook does not always equate to familiarity with the types of technology used in universities. There is also the question of attendance at lectures. The availability of full lecture podcasts could contribute to a decline in class attendance, resulting in students failing to build up relations with their tutors or peers. They could also fail to learn crucial skills such as note taking. Supporters of podcasts argue that ‘students are more likely to go to class and participate in the conversation because they are not worried about writing everything down’ (in Knight, 2006). Indeed, studies have shown that student supplement their lecture attendance with podcasts (Copley, 2007, Malan, 2007, Roberts, 2008). What we have discovered, however, is that it is both possible and desirable to take the next step and think of ways of integrating the practice of producing podcasts into the learning methods and objectives of PIR modules. Lee et al 11
  12. 12. argue that podcasting allows ‘students to articulate their understanding of ideas and concepts, and to share the outcomes with an audience they value, such as their peers’ (Lee et al, 2008, p. 518). We concur with this argument, believing that the student act of producing podcasts can concentrate student minds on refining presentation and broader academic skills as well as enhancing their general learning experience References: Campbell, G (2005) ‘There is something in the air: Podcasting in Education’ EDUCAUSE Review 40(6): 32-47. Clark, S., Westcott, M., and Taylor, L. (2007) 'Using short podcasts to reinforce lectures', Paper presented at the 2007 National UniServe Conference, University of Sydney. Copley, Jonathan (2007). Audio and video podcasts of lectures for campus-based students: production and evaluation of student use. Innovations in Education & Teaching International; Nov2007, Vol. 44 Issue 4, p387-399 Deal, A. (2007) ‘Teaching with Technology White Paper: Podcasting’. Available from http://connect.educause.edu/files/CMU_Podcasting_Jun07.pdf Dolowitz, D. (2007) 'The Big E: How Electronic Information Can Be Fitted Into the Academic Process', Journal of Political Science Education, 3(2): 177 – 190. 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, 12(1): 43-65. Edirisingha, P. & Salmon, G. (2007) ‘Pedagogical Model for Podcasts in Higher Education’, LRA/BDRA, May 2007. Fox, R. and Ronkowski, S.A. (1997) ‘Learning Styles of Political Students’, PS: Political Science and Politics, 30 (4): 732– 737. Gribbins, M. (2007) ‘The Perceived Usefulness of Podcasting in Higher Education: A Survey of Students’ Attitudes and Intention to Use’, Paper presented at the Second Midwest United States Association for Information Systems, Springfield, IL May 18-19, 2007. Authors. (2008) ‘Polcasting: the use of podcasting in the learning and teaching of Politics and International Relations’, European Political Science, forthcoming. 12
  13. 13. Kiernan, A. (2008) ‘Can e-tools and the virtual learning environment successfully deliver active learning for active citizenship?’ Paper presented at the 4th Annual Higher education Academy Conference, Harrogate. 1-3 July. Kolb, A & Kolb, D. (2005) Learning Styles and Learning Spaces: Enhancing Experiential Learning in Higher Education, Academy of Management Learning & Education, Vol. 4, No. 2, 193–212. Knight, R. (2006) ‘Podcasting Pedagogy divides opinion at US Universities’, Financial Times 9 February. Kumar, S. (2003) ‘An Innovative Method To Enhance Interaction During Lecture Sessions’, Advanced. Physiological Education, 27: 20-25. Lane, C. (2006) UW Podcasting: Evaluation of Year One. University of Washington. Available from: http://catalyst.washington.edu/research_development/papers/2006/podcasting _year1.pdf Lee, M., McLoughlin, C., and Chan, A. (2008) ‘Talk the talk: Learner- generated podcasts as catalysts for knowledge creation’, in British Journal of Educational Technology, 39(3): 501–521. Malan DJ (2007) “Podcasting computer science E-1.” In Proceedings of the 38th SIGCSE Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, 389-393. http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1227446 Maranto, R. And Gresham, A (1998) ‘Using "World Series shares" to fight free riding in group projects.(teaching of political science)’, PS: Political Science & Politics 31(4). Meng, P. (2005) ‘Podcasting and Vodcasting’, University of Missouri IAT Services White Paper. Powner, L. & Allendoerfer, M. (2008) ‘Evaluating Hypotheses about Active Learning’, International Studies Perspectives, 9(1): 75-89. Prensky, M. (2001) ‘Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants’, On the Horizon 9(5): 1-6. Ramsden, P. (2003) Learning to Teach in Higher Education 2nd ed. London: Routledge Read, B. (2005) ‘Lectures on the Go’ Chronicles of Higher Education, 52(10): Roberts, M. (2008) ‘Adventures in Podcasting’, PS: Political Science & Politics, 41:585-593 13
  14. 14. Sandars, J. and Schroter, S. (2007) ‘Web 2.0 technologies for undergraduate and postgraduate medical education: an online survey’, Postgraduate Medical Journal, 83:759-762. SDDU (2007) ‘Podcasting’ http://www.sddu.leeds.ac.uk/online_resources/podcasting/index.html Sims, S & Sims, R. (1995) The Importance of Learning Styles: Understanding the Implications for Learning, Course Design, and Education, Greenwood Press Westport, Connecticut . Swain, H. (2006), ‘Let them tune in’, The Times Higher, Feb 3rd. (summarised on http://www.lums.lancs.ac.uk/news/7196/ Windham, C. (2007) ‘Confessions of a podcast junkie’ EDUCAUSE Review 42(3) : 50-65. 14

×