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From a Professor December 21, 2007

Posted by Jeff in University Podcasting.

Though I’m not updating this blog very regularly lately, as I get emails that I think I should share or questions that others may have, I’ll post them. Here is an email I recently received from a professor:

I use podcasts in a way that I don’t think anyone else is doing: as a follow-up to each weekly class session.

In the past, I composed an email to all students in a class (one distribution list to ease the hassles), and typed out my follow-up comments. With the advent of podcasting and the acquisition of numerous technologies to produce the podcasts, I started turning the follow-up, text-based emails into podcasts.

The first term I produced them, I simply attached them to the email (even included the text of the podcasts as a demonstration of meeting the needs of all learners; in this case, hearing impaired students could get the content via the text version). Students needed to have some type of software to listen, but that never presented itself as a problem

Then, the University rolled out an update of our Sakai-based course management system that included a podcast syndicator that could not be simpler! I simply upload the file using the same procedures I’d use to upload a document for student access in the CMS. Syndication is automatic and the podcast page includes links to subscribe. I also provide my students a step-by-step guide to subscribing to the RSS feed in their own copy of iTunes. Those who wish not to subscribe via iTunes or other RSS podcatcher can access and listen via the course management system just by clicking on the posted file.

I no longer provide the text of the podcast, but continue to type the script from which I read. If I were to have a hearing-impaired student, I’d have the text available. I have experience in radio news, so reading from a script is my preferred methodology (though I concur with those who say such a method often leads to a stilted voice).

The content of the podcast is the same each week: 1) a review of the class session, 2) a preview of the next session, 3) a reminder of tasks to be accomplished between sessions, and 4) a “tech tip” that is not covered/discussed in class. I also tell them I reserve the right to add additional material (specifically, things I may have forgotten to mention in class) and try to impress upon them the need to listen to the whole podcast.

One term, I did the podcasts the first few weeks of class and then required students to work in teams of 2 or 3 and come to my office to record the follow-up podcast. I provided the script and helped with production. Students enjoyed the process, but it wasn’t “their own” as the content was all provided by me. It left little room for their creativity.

Now, podcasts are a regular part of the course curriculum. Students write and produce their own podcast based on one or more standards from the Indiana State Standards for grades K-5.

Student feedback on the follow-up podcasts varies: some say it’s very helpful (mostly non-traditional students); others are ambivalent to it’s importance. One student found her husband enjoyed the podcasts even though he wasn’t in the class! (I’d have to consider that an outlier were I doing actual research here . . . ).

Hope you find this information a useful and different perspective.

I do know of a few professors who are using the podcast to augment their class (I talk about it in other posts). I do like the idea, however, of the students being made to produce one on their own.



1. DJEquipmentSpeakers - March 6, 2009

I felt pretty old when I read this post. Never in my college life did a professor do anything like this. I can see how this would be very helpful to students out there. They would know any follow up to the lecture immediately and have a record of each podcast they could review at later times. Makes me wish I could go back to school just to participate in something like this.

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