Web Wednesday: The Podcasting Pilot

Web Wednesday: The Podcasting Pilot – Personalizing Learning and Engaging Students at UST

From Information Resources and Technologies

What happens when students stop listening to their iPods, and start to create their own content? As part of IRT’s podcasting pilot, two instructors and their classes have found out. Originally conceived as a vehicle for faculty to talk to their students, the Instructional Podcasting project has gained the greatest interest as a means for students to participate in class projects.

Ellen Riordan divided her Communication Studies class, Electronic Media and Society, into six student groups. Each group has produced several podcasts to define and discuss topics such as “public interest” and “media conglomerations,” having been assigned the task to study theoretical concepts and apply them to a situation, then explain to the audience what the concept is, why it is significant, and give an example.

Rather than “group papers,” these group podcasts demonstrate understanding of class concepts, while providing some real-life experience with a new medium that affects the very concepts they’re discussing. Students found that since they knew anyone could listen to the podcast, they put more thought into addressing the topics.

Sarah Schmalenberger’s Music History and Literature students are recording short composer biographies to practice communicating ideas verbally in the spirit of the BBC and NPR. Not only are the students developing scripts to read, but they’re actually reading them with professional speaking style and familiarizing themselves with current technologies in recording and distributing audio.

Why might podcasting be good for your class?

  • It’s novel. Serious though academia is, sometimes it’s nice to do something cool to liven up a class. In 2007, podcasting qualifies.
  • It engages a different type of learner. Students who wouldn’t raise a hand in a classroom or pontificate on a discussion board might be invigorated by the chance to speak their mind in a podcast.
  • It demonstrates unique skills that traditional paper-writing and class discussion don’t exercise. Creating a podcast is very different from typical course assignments.
  • It engages people outside of class. The author of this article, who has never taken a music history class and rarely chooses to read about that topic, subscribed to the music history podcast feed and found it fascinating that the Nokia cell phone ringtone is based on Francisco Tárrega’s "Gran Vals." (You don’t have to take student Staci Hamilton’s word for it; the audio clip in her podcast proves it!)

Intrigued? We hope so!

For more information visit the IRT Web site. To discuss if podcasting is right for you or your class, contact your academic technology consultant or the IRT Tech Desk, IRTHelp@stthomas.edu, or (651) 962-6230.