Podcast? CourseCast?

I’ve been reviewing the use of podcasting in higher education contexts recently – partly for one of my UTS Subjects (e-Learning Technologies) and partly out of interest to review how higher ed could inform organisational learning contexts….

A current article in Campus Technology "Academic MP3s – is it time yet? " overviews the growing number of uses in US colleges and universities – here’s the opening scenario:

"A student at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry gathers up her books and notes at the end of her class. After briefly stopping off at the dorm to grab her gym bag and update her Apple iPod (www.apple.com) with the campus server, she spends an hour on the exercise machine at the gym while reviewing the recorded lecture from the class she just completed…. On his way home from campus, a professor listens to a recent audio book offering, focused on his area of instruction. It plays through his car’s stereo from his iPod, and he can continue his review of the audio content at home…. Stumped by the illustrations in his textbook, a math student views a short clip on his video-enabled iPod and is able to better understand the effect of assigning a continuous value to a calculus formula for a function—all as he sips coffee at a campus hangout…. The iClassroom—wherever and whenever—is here. But while iContent might be quickly available at the touch of an iPod’s button, successful iEducation requires careful preparation and considerable effort on the part of both faculty and administrators. "

The article goes on to talk about the number of universities in the US integrating iPods into their academic programs…but wait…there’s more! There are some really useful suggestions how to use iPods (or any MP3 device really!)with curriculum:

"Review and create. Playback and portability are not the only reasons for the device’s popularity. 

Attendance. Yet, though students are enthusiastic, questions about iPod use on campus still persist. “If the lecture is going to be available for downloading, why bother coming to class?” some professors ask. Moreover, that questions about copyright issues persist (even though some specific usages of copyrighted materials for educational purposes is permitted under the TEACH Act and other copyright law) shows that guidance is needed for curriculum development.

Tech Gimmick? “Podcasting certainly has a very relevant application in higher education, but it needs to be carefully integrated into the curriculum in a thoughtful way. My biggest fear is that faculty may think that they can make their class more hip by doing podcasting—and they may in fact do it, but the resulting class may not be any better.” Edmondson, too, emphasizes that while the iPod can enrich and facilitate an already good program, it won’t create it from nothing. “It’ll make it worse if you’re not ready for it. You can be a whiz technologically but shallow academically.” ABB: Now – that’s a valuable comment!!!!

Dorothy Leland, GC&SU president, is quoted in the article discussing a rethinking of our pedagogical apporaches….but it also involves learning about the functionalities of the technology and its academic applications. But it also involves rethinking course objectives and learning outcomes in light of the new pedagogical opportunities that the technology provides….

And there’s more – this is probably a great place to start if you’re looking for ideas and examples…
Most of my students have indicated they like the concept of being able to review content…but then…if you don’t actually lecture (read: talk at) – then it’s going to be a very messy audio…does that mean I would then have to create a recording summary of what has occurred in the class? hmmm – extra workload…but if it enhances learning, reduces questions, clarifies complex or abstract issues…then perhaps that’s a good thing….

More articles and examples to follow shortly….