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.


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.

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.

Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge or TPACK

In my Computer Applications class we discussed TPACK or Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge. Our discussion centered on what would professional development for teachers look like if it was structured to align with the TPACK framework? It is a pretty simple theory that pedagogy has to align with content, technology and knowledge. I read the article and I was blown away. None of the other articles I’ve read talked about technology in the context of a blend with knowledge and content. However, I also had to agree with Denise Ward that a good teacher uses TPACK without really thinking about it…at least as well as she can within the confines of her school.

Again, since I’m not a teacher, I’m didn’t have much in specific examples. However, I loved this article so much that I called checked out the Michigan State web site and emailed Punya.

I thought the TPACK article was a pretty cool article. But it makes me wonder if I have a place in Instructional Technology? But surely every teacher can’t get a master’s degree in Instructional technology to integrate 21st century skills. Am I learning enough theory to be helpful?

This discussion aligned with a professional development project I was doing in another class. Although I think it is wise not to get wrapped around specific technologies, some technologies would be daunting without some expert help. So, although I agree in theory with the authors, I think someone would need to be around with some practical experience so that the teacher isn’t too overwhelmed.

I found this tip from Theresa Mackanos helpful, “We have a teacher at our high school that posts every one of his lessons via video / podcasts. He shows his examples. Actually, if his kids are absent for a day, they can actually go to their class on his blog site and see the lesson they missed. The kids who are motivated even go ahead as they can go into his history and view lessons from last year to see what the next lesson is.”

The only negative I see in a discussion of this kind is that it is specific to teachers, so answering the threads is a little difficult to fit in. However, fit in or no, I still get a lot out of the discussions.

Ice Breakers

The first two I took right off the wordpress site.

  • Do you like surprises? Why or why not?
  • Describe your personality in five words or less.
  • If you were an animal, what animal would you be?


We are studying instructor feedback this week. Oddly enough, the only courses that discuss feedback (this one and another one by the same professor) are the courses that actually have helpful feedback. Most of the classes I am taking do not have very much instructor involvement in the discussion threads, with my classes with Dr. K having the most presence. I have one class where I can’t even get an answer over three words long in response to my email, much less a discussion.

So this is how I see it. I have projects, discussions, readings, etc. that I must do to receive a grade in a course. I do said classwork and turn it in. I receive a grade and feedback that consists of a couple of sentences. If I have questions about the feedback, and email the instructor, I am ignored. (I am not talking about Dr. K ,who answers all my questions.  I have three other classes.) The first thing I mention when I write is that I have a question and I am not whining about my grade. But I don’t even get a reply.  Am I too much trouble? After all, each instructor probably has a 100 students.  Maybe because the classes are online it simply takes too much time to be personal to a bunch of people the professor will never meet.

An article in the Journal for Interactive Online Learning said that “student-instructor interaction is one of the most critical factors in enhancing student satisfaction in an online course…The findings specifically suggest that the instructor must encourage students to actively participate in the course discussions; they must provide feedback on students’ work and inform them of their progress periodically; and treat them as individuals.” (Sher, 2009, p. 102)

I read an article the other day that some may find interesting. It said “Supportive relationships in the classroom can encourage students to become more invested in learning, enable them to extend beyond their current abilities, and form a bridge for mentorship.” (Meyers 2009, p. 209)

Sher, A. (2009, Summer) Assessing the relationship of student-instructor and student-student interaction to student learning and satisfaction in Web-based Online Learning Environment. Journal for Interactive Online Learning.

Steven A. Meyers (Fall 2009) Do your students care whether you care about them? College Teaching