Study of Student-Generated Podcasts

The Educational Value of Student Generated Podcasts

Nie, M., Cashmore, A., & Cane, C. (2008) The educational value of student generated podcasts. Paper, ALT-C 2008 Research Proceedings pp. 15-26.

This article reports on a study of using student-created podcasts developed by a group of medical students. The study showed that “podcasting can empower learners and help them become more active and independent learners, and how student-developed podcasts can promote engagement and motivation for learning, improve cognitive learning and develop transferable team-working skills among student producers.” (p.15)

Student-generated podcasts help students learn through reflection and analyzing ideas and expressing these ideas in a professional oral presentation. If worked in teams, podcasting offers the potential for collaborative learning, and shared ownership of ideas and reflection.

Students in this study found that student-generated podcasts as a means to disseminate and generate knowledge. Podcasts enhanced their understanding of the topic. Because the students needed to research their topic in order to produce the podcast, their knowledge was expanded on the chosen topic and new information linked to their previous knowledge. As the podcast would be published, students felt pushed to do more research, especially current research. The research required them to link more of their knowledge and to disseminate the information so that non specialists would understand the content. Students also found podcast creation, motivating, interesting, and were appreciative of learning a new technical skill.

In addition, the learners who listened to the podcasts, were interested in the podcasts generated by their peers, found the podcasts engaging and motivating, and expressed interest in listening to peer instruction for more of their coursework.

A Review of Research on Podcasting in the Classroom

Use of Audio Podcast in K-12 and Higher Education: A Review of Research Topics and Methodologies

Hew, K.F. (2009) Use of audio podcast in K-12 and higher education: A review of research topics and methodologies. Educational Technology Research and Development. 333–357 doi: 10.1007/s11423-008-9108-3

Article reviews other articles on the use of audio podcasts as it relates to student usage, outcome of learning, and institutional aspects. The article found that most of the use of podcasts were by instructors to distribute lectures or supplemental material to lectures.

In the classroom, the podcast has four functions

  1. duplicate the lecture
  2. add relevant information to what was covered in class
  3. become a precursor to class, providing new material before the lecture, so it can help students prepare for class
  4. represent student learning through student-generated podcasts

We listen by instinct and audio can help with cognition. Podcasts can be listened to at any time anywhere and for short clips at a time. The theory is that podcasts can be listened to to and students will gain bits of information at a time. However, research shows that most students listen to podcasts on their computer rather on mp3 players and that learners are usually focused on the podcast and are not multitasking while they are listening to classroom podcasts.

Students reported that podcasts do improve learning, allowing learners to review information they missed or did not understand. However, reports which did not use the interview as a means of finding data, found a podcast which is not student generated, improves the student’s satisfaction, but does not improve their learning.

Part of the reason for the popularity of podcasts lectures is that students may listen to the podcast when it is convenient to them.

Podcasts: Students Interview Experts

Interviewing the Experts: Student Produced Podcast

Armstrong, G.R., Tucker, J.M., & Massad, V.J. (2009). Interviewing the experts: student produced podcast. Journal of Information Technology Education: Innovations in Practice, 8.

This paper described a podcast project that required students to work in teams and interview “experts.” Students analyze information and communicate ideas using technology to showcase their work. Working as a group, students, select and research a topic, identify the objectives and brainstorm ideas that support the topic, organize the ideas using concept mapping, set up an interview, prepare a script, and produce the podcast without instructor involvement.

When a group is producing the podcast, they become digital storytellers as they work on literacy and communication skills, planning, organization, critical thinking, and teamwork.

Because knowledge is more important than the technology (the actual podcast), it is the planning stage that is most important because that is where the students use their critical thinking and analytical skills and where they are working as a team.

The learning objectives

  • integrate communication and knowledge
  • use the technology to effectively relay the message
  • critically analyze information and produce relevant content
  • demonstrate literacy skills in the script and research
  • learn the mechanics of technology without help from instructor
  • use creativity

The students found the project to be productive and helped them learn.

 

 

Student-Created Podcasting

Second Year Students’ Experiences as Podcasters of Content for First Year Undergraduates

Lee, M. J.W., Chan, A., & McLoughlin, C. (2008). Students as Producers: Second Year Students’ Experiences as Podcasters of Content for First Year Undergraduates. 7th International Conference on Information Technology Based Higher Education and Training.

At Charles Sturt University in Australia, Lee, Chan, and McLoughlin conducted a study where they used second year students to produce podcasts to “teach” first year students. In this particular study, the podcasts were not a reiteration of the lecture but a supplement to the lecture.

By having students from earlier classes teach the new students, the earlier students learn by teaching. Peer tutoring requires students to revisit and use cognitive skills to clarify and explain prior knowledge. Although the mentors are passing their learning on to new students, the outcome is that it is the student-producers gain the most from the experience.

in the design and development of instructional materials, it is the designers who learn the most, since the process of articulating their domain knowledge compels them to reflect on their knowledge in a new and meaningful way.

By producing podcasts, students increase their meta-cognitive skills as well as their cognitive skills. The process of creating podcasts affords the students the ability to revisit the material, reorganize what they have learned, to process the information in a new and meaningful way.

Students volunteers were those who had already successfully completed the class the prior year and were interested in “reinforcing and extending their learning.” The volunteers met and discussed topics, wrote their own scripts, cast roles for the presenters, learned the technology, practiced the script and revised as necessary. They worked with the strengths and weaknesses of the team members.

The results showed that the students found the experience a positive one with the student-producers expressing that the task increased their learning while providing them technical skills.

RSS

A web feed, sometimes called news feed or a syndicated feed, is data that is used to collect frequently updated content. A popular web feed is RSS, which means Really Simple Syndication. (Atom is another web feed.) Web feeds, or RSS, works like this. Content distributors, like blogs, wikis, magazines, news sources, podcasts, etc. syndicate a web feed, thereby allowing users to subscribe to it. Web feeds that are of interest to the end user are collected in one spot, using an aggregator, sometimes called an RSS reader or feed reader. The reader can be web-based, mail based, desktop based, or mobile based. A popular aggregator is Google Reader, although there are many others. Aggregator typed in a search engine will reveal many choices of readers.

The user subscribes to a feed by entering into the reader the feed’s URI or by clicking a feed icon, (which is usually an orange box with sound waves) in a web browser. This action initiates the subscription process, the user need only follow the directions. After the user has subscribed to the feed, the RSS reader will check the user’s subscribed feeds regularly for new feeds and will download any updates. The reader also provides an interface in which the user can monitor and read the feeds.
The advantages to a RSS feeds are many. A RSS feed allows users subscribe to websites that the user has an interest, thereby avoiding the manual process of logging into each site and finding out if there is something of interest to read. The RSS feed allows more content from more sources to be read in a shorter period of time, thereby streamlining research and learning. According to the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), literacy in the 21st Century states that a literate student must be able to “manage, analyze, and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information.” (NCTE, 2008) RSS helps with this skill.

Another advantage of the RSS feed is that RSS is not sent via e-mail (unless sent to an e-mail aggregrator, of course.) This means that it is free of email problems such as spam, viruses, and phishing. Also should the user decide not to continue with the feed, the user simply unsubscribes to the feed and does not have the problems associated with trying to unsubscribe to e-mail lists. (Mason & Rennie, 2008).

The educational learning theory, connectivism, theorizes central learning is accomplished through ideas that are supported by social and personal networks and is interconnected through engagement in experiential tasks. Connectivism synthesizes salient features and elements of several educational, social and technological theories and concepts. Connectivism views the teacher as having the role of a mediator and learning is the process of creating connections between nodes to form a network. “A key idea is that learning starts with the connections that students make with one another, as opposed to with a fixed body of content. RSS, and more broadly, the concept of content syndication, have the potential to support complex, many-to-many connections in line with this philosophy.” (Lee, Miler, & Newnham, 2008, p. 316).

Possible uses of RSS include personal learning environments in which students manage their own learning. Instead of using learning management systems which are controlled by the institutions, students select content based on their needs. Rather than being packaged for them, content is created and distributed, remixed and reused by syndication or RSS feeds. This allows more student control whereas the learner aggregates a diverse range of content for their own learning and encourages the student to follow new trends and developments, a skill students will need in their professional lives. This key benefit fosters learning from sources other than the university, encouraging learning from a wider range of experts. (Lee et. al).

Other possible uses of RSS is for cooperative and social learning. RSS helps build social networks and communities. (Learners also may reduce the complexity of materials by using the aggregators to organize the content.) RSS affords students the technology to move and mix information, encouraging learners to view information from a new perspective, fostering critical thinking skills.

Reference
Lee, M. J. W., Miller, C. & Newnham, L. (2008) RSS and content syndication in higher education: Subscribing to a new model of teaching and learning. Educational Media International, 45(4). doi: 10.1080/09523980802573255

Mason, R. & Rennie, F. (2008). E-learning and Social networking handbook: Resources for higher education. New York: Routledge.

NCTE Position Statement (2008) 21st century curriculum and assessment framework.
Retrieved from: http://www.ncte.org/positions/statements/21stcentframework

Learning to use RSS Feeds

I have been using RSS feeds on a limited basis for a couple of years now. I forgot to even mention it in my thread but I have about two years worth of French words from “French Word of the Day.” And I am a big Apple fan so I keep up all things Apple. Plus, Higher Ed jobs is a feed I watch pretty closely.

Even though feeds weren’t very new to me, before this class I always sent the feed to my email or to Firefox. But now I also upload to Google reader. It depends on where I am physically as to which feed I read.

Anyway,I did subscribe to several more feeds to align more with instructional technology. If I find a feed is a waste of time, I just delete it. But most of the time, I find something here or there in the feed that justifies the full mailbox. I probably delete 90% of the articles, but the 10% is worth the trouble.

I especially liked this discussion because most of my classmates gave links to their feeds and some of them seem really neat. Some of the feeds I checked out already and other feeds I have on my list to try. Most feeds are light reading. If I don’t have a journal article handy, I read a feed before bed. Seems crazy. But it is much more fun to read the information if I am doing it without a grade.

Using the Blog to Enhance Learning: Practical Applications

A large number of students today come to higher education with understandings and expectations of technology aligned with Web 2.0. Over eighty percent of Americans, ages 18–24 use social networking sites. (Smith, Rainie & Zickuhr, 2011) And surveys have shown that spending time on social networking is not always what we would think. And as it turns out, a study soon be published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, found that students who “frequently shared links on Facebook or checked the site to see what friends were up to tend to have higher grades.” (Ruiz, October 21, 2011)

Many colleges and universities are requiring laptops of all students, some universities even providing pre-loaded laptops. Students expect to utilize these laptops and Web 2.0 skills in their courses. (Orr, Sherony, & Steinhaus, 2008) Studies have shown that blogs have educational value in the classroom. (Churchill, 2011) About one in ten internet users contribute to a blog; one in three internet users read blogs. (Lenhart, Purcell, Smith, & Zickuhr, 2010 ) Therefore, a weblog is a viable social networking tool to introduce into the pedagogy of a course.

Blogs, or web logs, are useful to enhance teaching with a generation of students who are already using the internet and social networking. Blogs are usually free and easy to use. (Some blogs, such as WordPress, will remove the advertisements for a small fee.) There are no sophisticated skills required to set up a blog. In fact, most students are already familiar with blogs. Due to ease of use, even older students that initially have difficulties with the blog soon overcome these issues. (Churchhill, 2011) Blogs work well with other Web 2.0 skills and can include graphics, video, and hyperlinks. Most can accommodate RSS feeds, Flickr, Twitter, and uTube, among others. Therefore, blogs may be used in many constructivist activities and is useful in almost any classroom.

For educators, blogs require a minimum effort to create and maintain. The anytime- anywhere nature of the blog makes it easy for teachers to give fast feedback and display information for students to read before coming to class. An educator may store handouts on his/her blog and post reminders of upcoming assignments. The weblog is also useful for tracking participation. It not only is a forum for the shy to speak up, but also a system of giving everyone a chance to contribute. Opening and keeping track of student’s blogs is streamlined by using a RSS feed to directly collect the posts into a wiki or aggregator. In addition, each student’s weblog may be grouped together into a mini “blogosphere” by connecting the blogs with hyperlinks.

When appropriately managed by the educator or other facilitator, the blog supports teaching and student centered learning. A blog is a convenient tool for students to journal their learning processes. Because the blogs are archived, the postings are easily reviewed for progress as well as represent knowledge learned. Plus, the web based nature of the blog makes them easily accessible to peers for commentary. Over time, blog authors may form networks of conversations in the blogosphere and further learn from each other.

One of the most effective ways of achieving content goals and developing creative thinking skills is to find ways to engage students outside of the classroom. The blog may be used by students to discuss assignments, review peer work, and share results. A report by Daniel Churchill (2011)stated that students felt that the aspects of blogging that contributed most to their learning was the assessing and reading of other student’s blogs. Bloggers find that the environment in a blog creates a sense of community. A student publishes their writing in a blog for all the public to see. The blog fosters a sense of pride and gives a student a sense of worth as the blog is a platform for the blogger to have their opinions recognized.

A blog enhances the use of constructivist teaching philosophies by supplementing traditional activities with student involvement with the course material. Without the time constraints of the classroom, blogs give the student more time to improve their writing and reflect on the task given. Peer pressure is removed and students more reticent can speak up within the blog.

Utilizing blogs in the classroom is beneficial to teachers as well as students. By reading blogs, an instructor can see what students know and fill in the gaps. (Paulus, Payne, & Jahns, 2009) A problem of the classroom is focusing too much time on the mechanics and precious time on the conceptual understanding of the material. Students profess a lack of knowledge or preparedness as a reason for not participating in the classroom. (Mandernach, 2006) While reading can be effective in preparing students for class prior to the discussion, it is hard to enforce. Therefore, a large amount of class time is spent reviewing basic concepts rather than deeper discussion and critique. A blog can help shift the basic concepts out of class using a social adaptation of just-in-time teaching developed by Jude Higdon and Chad Topez (2009).

Just-in-time teaching utilizing blogs works like this. Every student has a blog and the instructor has a single digital location like a wiki or a RSS reader where the posts are aggregated. The evening before every class, students post on their blog the answer to the two questions below. The questions are not changed with content of the class and are not discipline specific.

[1.] What is the most difficult part of the material we will discuss in tomorrow’s class?

[2.] What is the most interesting part of the material or how does the material connect to something you have learned…?
(Higdon & Topaz, 2009)

The day of the class the educator reads the answers to the questions and adjusts class time to address the areas identified by the students as problem areas. The rest of the class is spent on higher learning. If the assignment is graded, students will likely do the assignment and supplying a rubric is helpful to obtain useful responses. (Higdon & Topaz, 2009) It should only take a few minutes to go over the posts; however, if the class is large and a teaching assistant is unavailable, it is possible to sample the responses as long as the students are unaware the posts are not being graded.

Another framework in which blogs can contribute to learning is the What, So What, and What Now technique developed by Gregory Gifford. (2010). This system uses blogs by requiring students to ask these three questions to enhance reflection and critical thinking.

What?   The student address the facts without judgement or interpretation.

So What? Students interpret meanings, describe emotions, state the impact and why they came to that conclusion.

Now What?   The student considers the big picture and the broader implications.

This study showed that bloggers using this method of reflection more consistently meet the objectives of the assignment than students that were simply given questions provided by the instructor. (Gifford, 2010)

There are some drawbacks to blogging in course work. Unless the instructor plays a key role, the blog may be superfluous. Students participate better when they are graded and are provided detailed requirements and expectations from the blogs. (Churchill, 2011) It may take practice for students to understand how to think critically. For high quality discussions, the instructor needs to be present to model the dialogue between the students and to provide feedback. (Churchill, 2011)

Some students may have privacy concerns using a blog. They may be uncomfortable with their thought in a forum where anyone can read them. Some may feel that their thoughts are silly, or not good enough. (Churchill, 2011) If this is an issue, the blog may be made private so that a user has to log in in order for the post to be accessed.

Used correctly, social networking does not need to be a distraction to learning. Rather than discouraging student from using a technology that they engage with daily, the instructor can leverage this technology to deepen comprehension, reinforce retention, and create a broader virtual classroom.

Reference

Churchill, D. (2011). Web 2.0 in education: A study of the explorative use of blogs with a postgraduate class. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 48(2) 149-158. Routledge

Gifford, G.T. (2010, Winter) A modern technology in the leadership classroom: Using blogs for critical thinking development. Journal of Leadership Education, 9(1).

Higdon, J. & Topaz, C. (2009, Spring) Blogs and wikis as instructional tools: A social software adaptation of just-in-time teaching. College Teaching, 57(2). Washington, DC: Heldref Publications.

Lenhart A., Purcell, K., Smith, A. & Zickuhr, K. (Feb 3, 2010) Social Media and Young Adults. Pew Internet. Retrieved from: http://pewinternet.org/topics/Blogs.aspx

Mandernach, B.J. (2006). Thinking critically about critical thinking: Integrating online tools to promote critical thinking. Insight 1.

Orr, C., Sherony, B., & Steinhaus, C. (2008, June). Student perceptions of the value of a university laptop program. College Teaching Methods & Styles Journal.vol 4,(6).

Paulus, T. M., Payne, R. L., & Jahna, L. (2009, Spring). “Am I making sense here?” What blogging reveals about undergraduate student understanding. Journal of Interactive Online Learning Vol 8(1) ISSN: 1541:4914

Ruiz, R.R. (October 21, 2011) Facebook’s impact on student grades. The New York Times.
Retrieved from: http://thechoice.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/10/21/fbook-grades/

Smith, A., Rainie, L., & Zickuhr, K. (Jul 19, 2011) College students and technology. Pew Internet Retrieved from
http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/College-students-and-technology/Report.aspx