Tuesday’s article in USA Today, “iPods now double as study aids,” paints a positive picture of the impact podcasting is having in higher education. The article notes that posting content as podcasted audio can actually increase class attendance:

Richard Lucic, a professor of computer science, says 12 Duke classes experimented with using iPods last year. This year, the number is 42. “It’s definitely the future,” Lucic says. “Here at Duke, by the time you’ve got 42 classes doing this, you’d almost say it’s the present.” Lucic says he usually sends podcasts or other material to students to complement his lectures. “It’s kind of a subversive way to get them to do more.” Other professors say using iPods and MP3 players actually increases class attendance, because students are excited to discuss what they have been listening to or watching.

I found this analogy interesting as well:

“There is no substitute for the energy exchanged one-on-one in a living classroom,” says Dave Collins, a marketing lecturer at the University of Northern Iowa. “I would compare it to listening to a CD or podcast of Dave Matthews as opposed to being at a concert.”

These views conincide with thoughts I’ve posted before concerning the need for instructors to leverage technology to authentically engage students when they have face-to-face learning opportunities. If the instructor wants to use a “synchronous non-interactive” pedagogy, s/he is better off using podcasting. Hopefully we’ll see more university faculty experimenting with podcasting as another way to help students engage with content, other ideas, each other, and the professor.

One important distinction to make about podcasting was clarified (I think) in the March 1st “Podcasting in Higher Ed Roundtable” at Texas Tech. Instructors have been posting audio files on the Internet for a relatively long time, about as long as the World-Wide Web has been around. Just posting an audio file in mp3 format on a website is technically NOT “podcasting.” Audio files (or other files, called “enclosures”) become part of a podcast when they are posted inside a “feed” (usually called an RSS or ATOM feed, which both use XML syntax) that a computer user can SUBSCRIBE TO. The easiest way to do this is to post links inside a blog, where the first link is to the mp3 file or other enclosure.

If you are interested in learning more about podcasting, you might checkout the links I have on my Podcasting Help page. If you have suggestions for other links to include there, I’d love to hear about them. One of the resources I have linked is the following podcasting flowchart, which illustrates the differences between creating a “no-edit” podcast with a free tool like Audioblogger and a more common “edited” podcast using a free software tool like Audacity or Garageband.

Podcasting 101 Flowchart


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