Several weeks ago I put into words many of the ideas I had read, listened to, and thought about relating to the benefits of classroom podcasting in the article “Classroom Audio Podcasting.” Today I listened to David Warlick’s 1.5 hour podcast presentation from PodcasterCon2006, and several things struck me as major benefits or aspects of classroom podcasting that should be emphasized more than the others. These are my three takeaways from David’s preso.

First of all, David and session participants pointed out that classroom podcasting CAN INVITE STUDENTS TO NATURALLY EVALUATE THEIR OWN WORK AND THE WORK OF THEIR PEERS. We live in a fantasy land today with high stakes testing, which postulates “quality” can be best measured in a criterion or norm referenced examination written by well-paid professionals and graded by their provided answer key.

This is baloney. All of us have abilities to discern QUALITY. Students do as well as teachers. One of the major crimes we perpetuate in most schools is communicated primarily through the grading system. By having teachers assign grades to students, educational institutions reinforce the message to students that “the value of your work and your value as an individual is judged and assigned by the adult in the room.” Taken to an extreme, and even not-so-extremes, this entrenched belief can be destructive as well as long-lasting. This implied lesson is a big fat LIE. My value and your value as an individual, and even the value of the work we create in a given context, exist independently of any one person’s opinion.

I am not going to go on further in a formal criticism of grading systems, but I do want to echo what was said in David’s PodcasterCon presentation. Students need to be provided with opportunities to assess their own work. Peer review can be a positive in the classroom, but it rarely happens. Authentic assessments are generally much “messier” and more time consuming than using a scantron. Ongoing authentic assessment is exactly what a high quality 21st century education should be all about.

When students listen to the podcasts of other students as well as their own, they can quickly demonstrate their capacities to identify and define “quality.” This can be a great tool for learning and developing literacy inside and outside the classroom.

Secondly, podcasters should make an all-out effort to become oral history archivists. In some ways, podcasting advocacy may seem like a solution in search of a problem. But I don’t think so– I think it is a powerful tool that can be used in transformative ways by skilled educators. The context of oral history can make the utility and power of podcasting evident to many people who otherwise might not notice, however.

The death rate of WWII and Korean-era veterans is now higher than it was during those actual wars. When you lose a grandparent, parent, or other loved one, their voice is literally gone forever– unless you have recorded their words. I would love to see an international oral history project created which encourages people around the globe to use audio podcasts as their medium. Sometime down the road (post-dissertation) this might become a grant-funded initiative I pursue as a professor. Think this is a great idea but want to do it yourself now? Great! Just please let me know so I can help spread the word! ๐Ÿ™‚

My last thought is that podcasting is powerful– AND MATTERS, because it is PUBLISHING. Podcasting is publishing. Podcasting is narrowcasting, but it is also broadcasting. (Just not usually RCA-casting.) We can write, read, and say those words, but I don’t think many or any of us realize their full import. Think how difficult it was for anyone to publish their ideas and share them with others before the advent of the printing press in the 1500s! Even then, and until the advent of the Internet, you still had to either know or develop a relationship with a publisher to get your work “out there” for the world to see and consume.

Not so today. This was driven home last week, in the international skypecast I participated in with educators from Canada, Scotland, and the United States. The world in which I now live is a fundamentally different place than the one in which I grew up, because anyone with access to computer technology and the Internet can be a global content publisher. Every day I find this almost impossible to believe and too good to be true. I’m an educator and parent living in Lubbock, Texas, but there are people around our planet regularly reading the words I write in my blog and listening to the words I say in my podcasts. I am both awed and humbled by this reality.

I can and do publish at will. This blog post and last week’s podcast are evidences. Our students need to be doing these things too. My son is! Are your kids? If not, why not? The obstacles and challenges may seem plentiful, but the payoffs and rewards in improved literacy skills required to thrive in the 21st century will far outnumber them.

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4 Responses to Classroom podcasting benefits

  1. […] Wesley Fryer has some interesting thoughts on podcasting at the moment. Expanding on his useful article “Tools for the Teks: Integrating Technology in the Classroom — Classroom Audio Podcasting”, he makes two further points that I thoroughly agree with: firstly, that student podcasts are an excellent method to allow student peer review through listening to and analysing each others’ work; and secondly that podcasting (by students, and others) can provide an excellent oral history record which can meaningfully be expanded by students (for example interviewing survivors of WW2 since many of their voices will continue to be lost over the next few decades).ย  Of course, in such a scenario it is important to make sure that educators equip students will ethical and balanced interviewing skills before setting them loose on an unsuspecting public! […]

  2. Tama says:

    Wesley, good thoughts. I find the idea of podcasting as oral history especially useful, but it is worth mentioning that if student podcasts are to become *good* oral history archive, it’s very important for us as educators to equip students with good interviewing skills and to inform them or the ethical dilemmas faced when interviewing before setting them loose on an unsuspecting public! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Well… Jakob is only 20 months old… give him time! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. […] Moving at the Speed of Creativity ยป Blog Archive ยป Classroom podcasting benefits […]

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