Published on



Published in: Education
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide


  1. 1. Crispin Dale is a Principal Lecturer in technology supported learning in the School of Sport, Performing Arts and Leisure at the University of Wolverhampton. His current research interests include the use of virtual learning environments and the use of podcasting to support student learning. Vol. 6, No. 1. ISSN: 1473-8376 www.hlst.heacademy.ac.uk/johlste PRACTICE PAPER Strategies for Using Podcasting to Support Student Learning Crispin Dale (cdale@wlv.ac.uk) School of Sport, Performing Arts and Leisure, University of Wolverhampton, Gorway Road, Walsall, West Midlands, WS12 4TB 10.3794/johlste.61.155  Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Education Abstract The growth of podcasting since its incarnation in 2004 has been phenomenal. Within popular culture, podcasting has become an innovative way of broadcasting information on a range of subjects, from news-based items to comedy sketches. However, within an educational context, podcasting offers innovative and creative opportunities for academics to further support learning. The study reports upon the practice-based work that has been done on a level one undergraduate module “The Tourism Society”, where podcasting has been embedded within the weekly sessions. Enhanced podcasts, which in addition to audio recordings also incorporate images and reference material, have been developed to further engage students with the subject material. The study analyses the use of podcasting within education and proposes strategies for developing podcasts to support student learning. Keywords: Podcasting, Supporting Learning, Tourism Introduction The birth of podcasting has revolutionized the way in which people engage with multimedia and has empowered many to become amateur broadcasters from the comfort of their own homes. It is important to initially understand what is meant by the notion of podcasting. According to Lim (2005:1), podcasting involves “the authoring of, and subscription to, audio and/or video files on the internet for downloading to the user’s personal computer”. Furthermore, Podcasting “enables users to quickly and easily download multimedia files, including audio and video, for playback on mobile devices including iPods™ and other MP3 players” (Bausch & Han, 2006: 1). Though iPod™ and MP3 devices are mainly used for leisure-based purposes, when academic podcasts are used, they generate great opportunities for flexible learning (Mellow, 2005). Chan and Lee (2005: 65) further suggest that podcasting “combines the broadcasting nature of radio with the flexibility, learner control and personalisation afforded by recorded audio”. Through an analysis of the definitions, Cebeci and
  2. 2. Dale (2007) Strategies for Using Podcasting to Support Student Learning Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Education 6(1), 49-57. 50 Tekdal (2006) note the main features of podcasting. Firstly podcasting is an audio content delivery approach based on web syndication protocols such as an RSS feed which will be explained further, and secondly, podcasting aims to distribute content to mobile devices such as iPods™, MP3 players, PDAs and mobile phones. The aim of this article is to analyse the use of podcasting as a supportive delivery mechanism for learning content. The paper emanates from a wider research project at the University of Wolverhampton entitled “Podagogy” (www.podagogy.co.uk) which is exploring the use of iPod™ technologies to support learning. The Growth and Use of Podcasting Podcasting as a popular medium has grown dramatically since it was introduced by Adam Curry, an ex-MTV VJ and now commonly known as the “Podfather”, who exploited the technology to enable audio broadcasts to be downloadable onto mobile technologies such as the iPod™ (Campbell, 2005). Though there have been mixed statistics concerning the growth of podcasting (BBC, 2005), according to TDG research (2005) the number of people receiving podcasts is forecast to grow to 56 million by 2010. Though it should be noted that there is still a high percentage of the population who are unsure about what podcasting actually is (Neilsen/NetRatings, 2006). Campbell (cited in Brown 2006) notes five reasons why podcasting has grown so rapidly: 1) Internet activity is pervasive and a common activity throughout the World 2) Broadband technologies have grown rapidly allowing large media files to be downloaded 3) The multimedia personal computer has become commonplace 4) The distinction between streaming and downloading material has begun to blur 5) Finally there’s been the rapid growth of iPod™ and MP3 adoption. From a user-creator perspective, Podcasting offers a degree of self-empowerment, control and autonomy. Indeed, Huann and Thong (2006) note the “bottom up” approach to podcasting where internet users have the potential to develop and publish podcasts to the net quickly and easily without having to know complicated HTML code. From an academic perspective, podcasting offers the lecturer the potential to evolve into an educational broadcaster, instantly disseminating knowledge as and when it occurs. Jones (2006) refers to this form of podcasting as ‘coursecasting’ and with a basic knowledge of the right technology, podcasts are relatively easy to produce. The podcast is created using an audio recording programme (e.g. Audacity™ or Garageband™) to record the dialogue that is being communicated by the broadcaster. This can then be saved as a sound file (e.g. MP3) for transmission through what is known as an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed. Alternatively, and within an educational context, the podcast could be uploaded onto a virtual learning environment (VLE) for students to listen to. Figure 1: The Podcasting Process Content Creation Phase Publication Phase Subscription Phase Authoring of Podcast Publication to RSS Feed/Hosting website Use of aggregator software (e.g. iTunes™) to capture podcast Synch with music player (e.g. iPod™)
  3. 3. Dale (2007) Strategies for Using Podcasting to Support Student Learning Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Education 6(1), 49-57. 51 (Adapted from Huann and Thong, 2006) The advantage of podcasting via an RSS feed is the instantaneous nature of being able to retrieve the podcast once a subscription feed has been established. The subscription feed is then linked to an aggregator (e.g. iTunes™), which is used to automatically retrieve the podcasts if any new updates are published on the net. In terms of knowledge distribution, information is based upon a push approach. That is once a subscription has been established with an RSS feed, the user will automatically receive the knowledge once the site where the source material is being held is updated (Ractham and Zhang, 2006). The fact that there is now an ‘always on’ culture means that the aggregator will automatically search for new feeds that have been subscribed to (Hargis and Wilson, 2005). Huann and Thong (2006) illustrate this production and publication of podcasts as a three-stage process (Figure 1). Podcasting and Supporting Learning Podcasting can offer an innovative way to support learning. Since Duke University in the United States successfully piloted the use of iPods™ with all their first year students during 2004 (Duke, 2005), a number of other institutions have subsequently followed suit in adopting iPods™ and podcasting as an educational medium (Blaisdell, 2006). According to Hargis and Wilson (2005: 6), “podcasting can promise a unique approach to improving foundational pedagogical approaches to information processing and conceptual learning”. Previous research into the use of Podcasting within education has revealed some interesting findings. As podcasts can be shared across academic communities this has been found to be effective in developing social networking and collaborative learning (Alexander, 2005; Ratctham and Zhang, 2006). Alexander (2005) notes how the use of podcasts can reach those with different learning styles, and it is particularly good for students who learn ‘on the go’ (Lim, 2005). This also enables time-shifted learning to occur, so learners can choose when and where they want to learn (Chan and Lee, 2005). Podcasting can also make learning more appealing to a diversity of learners and can generate greater inclusivity (Cebeci and Tekdal, 2006). Indeed, podcasting has great potential to meet the needs of learners who may have specific learning difficulties, or whose first language is not English and therefore require further learning support. Baird and Fisher (2006) have found that podcasts can be effective in enhancing student engagement and reflection. Hargis and Wilson (2005) suggest that podcasting can be a shared learning experience where conceptual thoughts and ideas can be created spontaneously. This can then lead to a more progressive and reflective learning experience. Huann and Thong (2006) have also found that podcasting enables key skills to be developed including communication, time management, problem solving, and critical and analytical thinking. In analysing the influence of podcasting on language learning, Thorne and Payne (2006) argue that it leverages habituated behaviour. That is, students are familiar with the technology and how to use it. It has also been argued that students experience higher satisfaction with those courses that use audio recordings to accompany course material (Miller and Piller, 2005). Chan and Lee (2005) also found that podcasting alleviates the anxiety levels of students with the subject matter. Though it could be argued that anxiety levels could potentially be raised as a consequence of using new technologies. From research conducted at the University of Washington, Lane (2006) found that podcasts enabled students to further understand the in-class taught material. Indeed, processing complex and abstract information via audio can be challenging, but it can be good for understanding general opinions and arguments (Chan and Lee, 2005). It may also be conducive for those students who take a “bite size” instrumentalist approach to learning (Dale and McCarthy, 2006). Using Podcasting in Tourism A Level One module called “The Tourism Society” was used to pilot the use of podcasting with students. Delivered in semester one, this is a core introductory module for students studying on the BA (Hons) Tourism Management programme. Students from other degree programmes can also select this module as an elective. The module introduces students to the basic principles and concepts to do with tourism, such as: the definitions of tourism; the history of tourism; the geography of tourism; and tourist motivations and determinants. To supplement the taught session, a weekly podcast was
  4. 4. Dale (2007) Strategies for Using Podcasting to Support Student Learning Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Education 6(1), 49-57. 52 recorded which summarised the key points and concepts discussed during the lecture. Enhanced podcasts were developed using the Apple Mac programme Garageband™ (Figure 2). Figure 2: Podcast production in Garageband The production of the podcasts followed the same process as Huann and Thong’s (2006) three-stage model as illustrated previously in Figure 1. For PC users, simple audio podcasts can be produced using programmes such as ‘Audacity’. The podcasts were recorded shortly before the formal lecture took place and the content of the recordings were tailored to meet the needs of learners through a ‘just in time’ approach (Chan and Lee, 2005). This meant that the podcasts were contemporaneous in nature and reflected upon issues studied in the previous session. Figure 3: The Podcast on WOLF Each of the podcasts was kept to approximately 4-6 minutes long. This was not only to ensure that the level of engagement from the listener could be sustained, but also to recognise the bandwidth capability of the student’s computer receiving the podcast (Cebeci and Tekdal, 2006). The podcast
  5. 5. Dale (2007) Strategies for Using Podcasting to Support Student Learning Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Education 6(1), 49-57. 53 was then placed alongside the lecture material in the module topic on the University’s own VLE known as WOLF (see Figure 3). Certain problems can be encountered during this phase. WOLF is restricted to certain file size limits when uploading materials. As the podcasts were large in memory size (between 2 and 5mb) this meant FTP (File Transfer Protocol) had to be used as the file transfer format for uploading the podcasts onto WOLF. As an alternative to WOLF, iWeb™, a web-publishing package, was used to develop a site where the podcasts could be published and listened to. The website was then uploaded onto the web (http://web.mac.com/crispindale1) (Figure 4). Figure 4: The Website for the Podcasts Students could subscribe to the podcasts through this site and as podcasts were updated on a weekly basis, these would automatically be updated via the iTunes™ programme which acts as the aggregator. This is a free programme that can be downloaded from the iTunes™ website (www.iTunes.com) and enables students to watch and listen to the enhanced podcasts. Students can also download the podcast to their iPod™, or if they have an iPod™ Video, can simultaneously listen and watch the visuals that accompany the audio broadcast. This enables students to reinforce information that had been disseminated in the lecture. In addition to the development of a ‘how to’ guide students were also given a full induction into using the podcasts. Strategies for Effective Podcasting For podcasting to be effective in supporting student learning it is important that a number of strategies are considered. These can be themed into two separate categories: Learning Issues and Technical Issues. Further sub-issues within both of these themes are also discussed. Learning Issues Engaging the listener It is important to engage the listener with the material included as part of the podcast. The speech needs to incorporate examples and subjects of interest to the listener and that they can relate to. The use of visuals embedded within the podcast also enable the recipients to further understand the subject matter being broadcast. These visuals maybe in the form of photos that illustrate tourism attractions, destinations, resources and so on, and which exemplify a point that is being made within the podcast (Figure 5).
  6. 6. Dale (2007) Strategies for Using Podcasting to Support Student Learning Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Education 6(1), 49-57. 54 Alternatively, the visuals may illustrate a particular concept or model that can be summarised by the tutor. The use of ‘thinking pauses’ in the podcast where the tutor asks the student to stop and think about a particular point, enables students to reflect on the subject matter being broadcast. The use of questions placed at the end of the podcast, which students can answer in preparation for the next taught session, also acts as a means of developing reflective and critical thinking skills (Huann and Thong, 2006). Figure 5: Visuals in the podcast Introduce theory gradually According to Cebeci and Tekbal (2006), the beginning of the podcast should be longer but less in- depth. More complex material should then be introduced as the podcast progresses. The podcasts took a standard format: firstly introducing the topic and content of the material on the podcast; secondly, briefly explaining the significance of understanding the particular subject matter; thirdly, moving onto the more complex theoretical material; and finally summarising the key issues. Use “Chapters” to guide the listener The podcasts were separated into chapters with visual images and title headings to illustrate the theme of that particular section (Figure 6).
  7. 7. Dale (2007) Strategies for Using Podcasting to Support Student Learning Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Education 6(1), 49-57. 55 Figure 6: The Podcast Chapters The listener can then quickly and easily move between different themes in the podcast. This enables students to recap on areas that require further clarification without having to listen to the whole podcast. It also enables the student to reinforce knowledge on the various topics that have been learnt. Developing deeper learning experiences Campbell (2005) recognises that the production of the podcast is probably the most difficult part of the process. In terms of the audio production, he notes the need for an ‘explaining voice’ to take the listener through a journey of cognition and metacognition which will enable a deeper learning process to occur. To enable a deeper learning experience to occur, hyperlinks were embedded within the chapters to refer students to material that would further enhance their understanding of the subject matter. For example, when presenting the geographical profile of tourism in Europe, a hyperlink was made to the website ‘VisitEurope.com’ (www.visiteurope.com) for students to discover more information about the tourism resources available in this region. Further links can also be made to articles that refer students to reading materials about the subject matter. Technical Issues Audio and Visual Quality It is important that the nature of the audio broadcast is of sufficient quality so as not to impede the learning experience of the listener. Therefore background noise must be kept to a minimum. Podcasts should be recorded in a relatively quiet environment and a good quality microphone/headset used. In terms of the personalisation of the podcast, it is advisable that the podcasts are produced by the tutor delivering the module (Cebeci and Tekdal, 2006). Students are more likely to have a closer relationship with what is being broadcast if they can identify with the person voicing it. Visual images should be saved in a format (e.g. TIFF - Tagged Image File) that enables picture quality to be kept to a maximum. There can be a problem when visuals are enlarged and pixel quality therefore reduced. The editing of the podcast also relies upon the skills of the tutor, but transitions between speech and visual images should be synchronised to ensure the logical progression of the podcast. Ensuring copyright Alexander (2005) expresses concerns about copyright and the need for podcasts to adhere to copyright law. This is particularly the case for photographic or video images that may be incorporated within an enhanced podcast. To ensure copyright was conformed to, visual images were taken from the tutors own lecture material and/or the tourism images website (www.tourismimages.org.uk). The sample music that begins and ends the podcasts was supplied copyright free with the Garageband software. Alexander (2005) also recognises issues concerning privacy and podcasting, and whether podcasts should be restricted to staff and students from within the University that created them. Currently podcasts can be heard by anyone from across the world that subscribes to them. However, if playing only through a VLE then the podcasts, to some extent, are password protected. Technical and training support If podcasting is to be supported successfully then sufficient IT resources are required (Alexander, 2005). This includes both the necessary equipment and the software to be able to produce and publish the podcasts. As mentioned earlier, the size of the podcast files, in particular, can be large and if uploading onto a VLE, this often has to be done using File Transfer Protocol (FTP). In addition, due to compatibility issues, images embedded within the podcasts could not be made full size on the VLE screen (see Figure 3). The “chapter” tool is something else which cannot be used within WOLF. This raises issues about the way in which VLEs need to evolve alongside other technological innovations. Furthermore, there needs to be sufficient training to support staff in the development of podcasts (Brown, 2006). A 4-6 minute enhanced podcast can take approximately 2-3 hours to go through production to subscription phases as per the podcasting process. Staff need to be competent
  8. 8. Dale (2007) Strategies for Using Podcasting to Support Student Learning Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Education 6(1), 49-57. 56 in each of the different phases of the podcasting process, and this requires the development of both broadcasting and technical skills. Conclusion Podcasting has become a major feature of contemporary society and has emerged as a means for supporting learning within educational institutions. However, podcasting should not be seen as a replacement for the contact between the tutor and student. Though enhanced podcasts can offer an interactive medium for enhancing the student learning experience, it is still only a one-way form of communication. Amongst the range of educational technologies that exist, podcasting, therefore, should be viewed as another supplementary channel for supporting student learning. Nevertheless, with a changing, diverse, increasingly demanding student body that have higher expectations of the learning experience, using podcasts presents a great opportunity to meet the learning needs of the iPod™ generation. Acknowledgement The author would like to thank the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching at the University of Wolverhampton who have funded the Podagogy project which this research has emanated from. References Alexander, B. (2005) Podcasting and the Liberal Arts, The Newsletter of the National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education [online], 4(3). Available from: http://newsletter.nitle.org/v4_n3_summer2005/podcasting.php [Accessed 1 November 2006]. Anderson, P. and Blackwood, A. (2004) Mobile and PDA technologies and their future use in education [online]. JISC Technology and Standards Watch, November. Available from: http://www.jisc.ac.uk/uploaded_documents/ACF11B0.pdf [Accessed 1 November 2006)]. Baird, D.E. and Fisher, M. (2006) Neomillennial User Experience Design Strategies: Utilizing Social Networking Media to Support "Always On" Learning Styles, Journal of Educational Technology Systems, 34 (1), 5−32. Bausch, S., and Han, L. (2006) Podcasting gains an important foothold among U.S. adult online population [online]. Nielsen/NetRatings. Available from: http://www.nielsen-netratings.com/pr/pr_060712.pdf [Accessed 1 November 2006]. BBC (2005) Podcasting set for huge growth, Thursday, 7 July [online]. BBC website. Available from: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/4658995.stm [Acccessed 1 November 2006]. Blaisdell, M. (2006) Academic MP3s: Is it time yet? [online]. Campus Technology. Available from: http://campustechnology.com/article.asp?id=18001 [Accessed 1 November 2006]. Brown, S. (2006) Student Affairs and Podcasting [online]. Student Affairs Online 7 (2). Available from: http://www.studentaffairs.com/ejournal/Summer_2006/StudentAffairsandPodcasting.html [Accessed 1 November 2006]. Campbell, G, (2005) Podcasting in Education [online]. EDUCAUSE, Nov/Dec 05. Available from: http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ERM0561.pdf [Accessed 1 November 2006]. Cebeci, Z. and Tekdal, M. (2006) Using Podcasts as Audio Learning Objects, Interdisciplinary Journal of Knowledge and Learning Objects, Vol 2, 7-57. Chan, A. and Lee, M. (2005) An MP3 a day keeps the worries away - Exploring the use of podcasting to address preconceptions and alleviate pre-class anxiety amongst undergraduate information technology students [online]. Student experience conference, Charles Sturt University. Available from: http://www.csu.edu.au/division/studserv/sec/papers/chan.pdf [Accessed 1 November 2006]. Dale, C. and McCarthy, P. (2006) I like your style: The learning approaches of leisure, tourism and hospitality students studying generic modules, Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Education, 5 (2), 48-58. Duke (2005) Duke digital initiative [online] Duke University, Office of Information Technology. Available from: http://www.duke.edu/ddi/ [Accessed 1 November 2006]. Hargis, J. and Wilson. D. (2005) Fishing for Learning with a Podcast Net. [online] University of North Florida. Available from:
  9. 9. Dale (2007) Strategies for Using Podcasting to Support Student Learning Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Education 6(1), 49-57. 57 http://www.unf.edu/dept/cirt/tech/podcast/HargisPodcastArticle.pdf [Accessed 1 November 2006]. Huann, T. Y. and Thong, M.K. (2006) Audioblogging and Podcasting in Education [online}. Edublog.net. Available from: http://edublog.net/astinus/mt/files/docs/Literature%20Review%20on%20audioblogging%20and% 20podcasting.pdf [Accessed 1 November 2006]. Jones, D. (2006) Enhancing the learning journey for distance education students in an introductory programming course [online]. Central Queensland University. Available from: http://cq-pan.cqu.edu.au/david-jones/Publications/Papers_and_Books/react1.pdf [Accessed 1 November 2006]. Lane, C. (2006) Podcasting at the UW: An Evaluation of Current Use [online]. Catalyst. Available from: http://catalyst.washington.edu/projects/podcasting_report.pdf [Accessed 1 November 2006]. Lim, K. (2005) Now Hear This – Exploring Podcasting as a Tool in Geography Education [online]. Nanyang Technological University. Available from: http://homepage.mac.com/voyager/brisbane_kenlim.pdf [Accessed 1 November 2006]. Mellow, P. (2005) The media generation: maximize learning by getting mobile. In: Proceedings of Ascilite 2005: Balance, Fidelity, Mobility: maintaining the momentum? [online]. Available from: http://www.ascilite.org.au/conferences/brisbane05/blogs/proceedings/53_Mellow.pdf [Accessed 1 November 2006]. Neilsen/NetRatings (2006) The 21st Century UK Digital Consumer, Nielsen//NetRatings MegaPanel UK Digital Consumer Survey, September 06. Miller, M. and Piller, M. (2005) Principal factors of an audio reading delivery mechanism – evaluating educational use of the iPod. In: P. Kommers & G. Richards (Eds.) Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2005. Chesapeake, VA: AACE, 260-267. Pownell, D. (2004). iListen, iLearn, iPod: Life-long Learning with Mobile Audio. In: C. Crawford et al. (eds.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education International Conference 2004, Chesapeake, VA: AACE. 1830-1831. Ractham, P. and Zhang, X. (2006) Podcasting in academia- a new knowledge management paradigm within academic settings, SIGMIS-CPR’06, April 13–15. Slykhuis, D. (2006). Have an iPod? Then you need to know this about how to use it in your classroom. In: C. Crawford et al. (Eds.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education International Conference 2006, Chesapeake, VA: AACE, 2416-2417. TDG Research (2005) Podcasting Users to Approach 60 Million US Consumers by 2010 [online]. The Diffusion Group. Available from: http://www.tdgresearch.com/press044.htm [Accessed 1 November 2006]. Thorne, S. and Payne, S. (2006) Evolutionary Trajectories, Internet- mediated Expression, and Language Education, CALICO Journal, 22 (3), 371-397.