N.Maniar (University of Portsmouth) - Is it a Podcast?
Is it a podcast?
A podcast is a series of digital media files that are distributed over the internet for
playback on either a portable media player (e.g. an iPod) or on a PC. Podcasts
typically consist of audio files. However, they can now include audio synchronized
with static graphics (‘enhanced’ podcasts) and even video. Podcasts can be accessed
on the creator’s website or by subscribing to them through ‘podcatching’ software
To investigate whether audio podcasting has widespread educational benefits
that will positively impact upon a significant number of students, we carried out a
study at University of Portsmouth. 5 units were selected for this project, one in each
faculty. A total of 323 students where registered for these units. Unit Lecturer had to
record an audio to introduce their lecture followed by lecture summary on weekly
basis. Audio was recorded in an .mp3 format using audacity software. In total, 86
audio files were created and delivered to 323 students studying the units. Survey was
carried out at the end of semester to study the way students accessed audio files. A
total of 256 students (76%) out of 323 students completed the survey
Out of 256 students, 144 students (56%) listened to one or more of the audio
files. Audio files were delivered using two different approaches. Approach one was
the delivery of audio files using WebCT/VICTORY and approach two was the
delivery of audio files using RSS feed for students to download the files using
podcatching software i.e itunes and synchronise it with mp3 player. Students were
allowed to access audio files using either approach.
Average running time of audio file was 4 minute 16 seconds. Longest running
audio file was 11 minute 55 seconds, while the shortest running audio file was 36
seconds. At the end of the semester, the usage of each approach was evaluated.
Out of 256 students, 56% of students listened to one or more of the audio
files, within which, 14% of students listened to more than half of the audio files.
Out of 144 students, 63% of students listen to the audio files on their
computer via WebCT/VICTORY, 24% of students subscribed to the podcast and said
that this was the main way they accessed the audio files while 13% of students
subscribed to the podcasts, but they still tended to listen to it online in
Out of 144 students, 44% of students accessed the files throughout the
semester for revision purpose, 44% of students accessed the files nearer the end of
the term when preparing for the exam/coursework and 33% accessed the files on
the week they were released.
Out of 144 students, 61% of students thought that video files (i.e audio files
synchronised with still graphics or actual moving video) would be a preferred
delivery format in the future, while 37% of students would prefer a text version that
can be printed, and 10% of students were happy with audio files as a delivery format.
Out of 256 students, 84% said that their primary focus was on things that will
help them pass the exam/coursework. Audio files delivered in this study were not
directly related to their exam/coursework, which might be the reason why only 56%
of students listened to these files.
If you want to learn more about Podcasting IDEA (Identify, Design, Embed &
Analysis), please attend “Podcasting – Make it work for you and your students”
workshop run by DCQE.