Category Archives: LRNT 526

Tools of the Trade

I had the privilege of participating in four presentations regarding educational technologies.  These presentations covered everything from means to learn to evaluation tools, each one being available online.  One of the reasons I chose the MALAT program was to learn about and add to my digital toolkit.  This course is helping me do exactly that!

As I listened to these presentations a recurring question came to mind.  With all these tools available to educators (both online and face-to-face), how does one go about choosing the right one?  With the abundance of options, it is easy to use the first thing that one comes across or spending numerous hours looking for the best tool.  I know that I can fall into the later category without intending to do so.  A concern I have is that it might be hard to find the balance between researching tools and committing to one.

My team is focusing on educational podcasts as the learning event.  As I read more about them it becomes evident that any fool with a recording device can make a podcast; however, that does not mean that it would be high of production or educational quality.  For my own critical inquiry, I am looking at to find out if podcasts can improve volunteer training.  As I began my research, the quality of a podcast did not enter my thoughts.  Now that I have participated in these presentations, I realize that I need to consider quality as I draw my conclusions.

I leave this post with a question to which I am not sure there is an answer.  With so many tools available, how does one know the best tools of the trade?

The Audacity to Explore: Using Critical Inquiry to Examine Podcasts as a Learning Event – Part 2

Team 1: Terra Aartsen, Lisa Gedak, Owen Lloyd, Kathy Moore, Leigha Nevay

Please click here to view the recording of our presentation.

Click here for a full size version of the above image.

For LRNT526 assignment one, our team, Terra Aartsen, Lisa Gedak, Owen Lloyd, Kathy Moore, and Leigha Nevay chose to examine podcasting’s role in education. Individually we chose a specific issue associated with education with which to examine podcasting’s ability to address.

The specific issues were; does podcasting offer a means to improve formal learning when implemented as an educational priming tool, how best to mitigate the effects of an over abundance of resource information, and how can volunteer training be improved through its use. Further, will the inclusion of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) guidelines ensure equitable accessibility for diverse learners and can this modality help to close the digital divide.

Educational podcasting presents some positive attributes that can address the digital divide. Its portability, ease of use and low technological requirements are touted as defining characteristics for this purpose.

Portability is the most often referenced as an attribute of the modality with research papers highlighting the ability to consume an educational podcast while doing other activities (McGarr, 2009). However, when actual use and individual context were examined, it was found that learners often elected to use the podcast as a sit-down learning activity supporting the idea that there is a disconnect between the anticipated and actual use of this modality (Selwyn, 2010).

The technology required to create, deliver, and consume a podcast is relatively simple with distribution being effective even over the most basic internet connection source.  Additionally, the standard file format for podcasts is small, which makes them ideal for transmission over the less stable networks often found in rural areas (Betella & Lazzari, 2007). Podcasting shows promise for combating the digital divide and when enhanced with Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles, can offer learners access to continued educational opportunities.

UDL principles approach access to learning as a matter of equity; making sure “all students have the ability to interact with and learn from the curriculum rather than being given individualized instruction that further separates their learning from that of their peers” (Meyer, Rose, & Gordon, 2014; Venkatesh, 2015, p.11). UDL provides an opportunity for alternative modes of submission and assessment so learners are able to synthesize and express understanding of concepts and learnings in a way that is most appropriate for their individual context (Berlanger, 2005; Edyburn, 2011). All learning modalities used in a classroom should enhance learning potential for all participants and not create barriers.

As a way to enhance learning potential, podcasting can be as a Primer Podcast delivering introductory learning resources and preparing students for the following classroom session. This use can create a more engaging classroom experience but presents a risk of overuse and over dependence.

Primer podcasting should not be viewed as a substitute classroom session or as a way to eliminate alternative learning resources. A 2018 article warns of the risks associated with the over use of podcasting for the delivery of course material and notes that some believe podcasting has no place in the classroom and is a distraction (Goldman, 2018). For this reason, feedback provided by the learners becomes an important tool with which to inform technology use decisions.

Feedback allows educators to better understand what is needed by the learner enabling informed decisions regarding multimedia platform use. As Knowles notes that “In this direction he must, if he is an educator, be able to judge what attitudes are actually conducive to continued growth and what are detrimental” (Knowles, 1973, 69). With the sheer volume of information currently available, and the ease with which information is disseminated, podcasting resources are abundant and often without any means to verify author credibility and subject matter veracity. Assessing the pertinence of the information and the applicability to the educational offering becomes crucial. This is supported by Weller as he acknowledges this information abundance and stresses the importance of proper selection, aggregation and interpretation of existing materials (Weller, 2018).

Podcasting has earned its place as a pedagogical tool in formal education as a far reaching, easy to produce and use, flexible mobile delivery modality (Santos, et al., 2019). This includes applications in the private sector where it is used as a tool to facilitate volunteer training.

According to Statistics Canada, 44% of Canadian participated in volunteer work in 2013 (Statistics Canada, 2015, p. 3).  With that many people volunteering annually, we need to ensure their training is handled in the best possible way. As more technical options are available for education, podcasts enhance volunteer training through their ease of use and personalization of learning.

As previously noted, subscription delivery will permit targeted delivery of timely training information with minimal disruption to the volunteer and the podcast can serve as a primer information source delivered prior to in person face-to -face training. Providing technical information to them in advance allows the trainer to focus the face-to-face time on experiential learning adding value for the volunteer by minimizing the time demands resulting from in person training.

Volunteers are unpaid and motivated extrinsically so it is vital that empathy is employed when mandatory in person training is required.

With each of us identifying an educational issue to act as a lens with which to focus our individual investigation, we were able to develop a broad reaching overview of how this technology fits within the scope of education.

References

Betella, A., & Lazzari, M. (2007). Towards Guidelines on Educational Podcasting Quality: Problems Arising from a Real World Experience. In Lecture Notes in Computer Science: Vol. 4558. Human Interface and the Management of Information. Interacting in Information Environments (pp. 404–412). https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-540-73354-6_44

Goldman, T. (2018). The Impact of Podcasts in Education. Advanced Writing: Pop Culture Intersections. Retrieved from https://scholarcommons.scu.edu/engl_176/29

McGarr, O. (2009). A review of podcasting in higher education: Its influence on the traditional lecture. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 25(3). https://doi.org/10.14742/ajet.1136

Selwyn, N. (2010). Looking beyond learning: Notes towards the critical study of educational technology. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 26(1), 65–73. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2729.2009.00338.x

Weller, M. (2018). Twenty Years of Edtech. Retrieved from https://er.educause.edu/articles/2018/7/twenty-years-of-edtech

 

Podcasts and Training

Podcasts are a viable option when sharing information.  They are useful to distribute recordings intended for educational or entertainment purposes since the content of a podcast fits the need of the intended audience.  A benefit of publicly publishing podcasts is that those who are interested in the same topic can find them and receive the same information (Evans, 2008).  Podcasts can replace face-to-face lectures as a method of disseminating information to learners.  Using this method, learners can access the material in the location of their choice and using the device of the choice (Parson, Reddy, Wood, & Senior, 2009; Brookes, 2010; Evans, 2008).  This makes education much more flexible than it is in a face-to-face environment.  Looking at some of the available literature surrounding educational podcasts, I see that there is information on both sides of the argument on using podcasts for educational purposes.  While I have limited experience with podcasts, I can see their value as an educational tool.  Having the ability to listen to a lecture when and where works best for the learner is a worthwhile feature of this technology.  Also, having the information available outside of the formal lecture time allows learners to go back and review it should something be unclear at a later time, allowing the learner more control of his/her learning.

How does this fit with training staff?  That is what I am planning to explore for the duration of this course.  I volunteer at a seasonal not-for-profit living historical museum.  Each season begins with training for all staff (paid) and volunteers.  This training happens in a face-to-face setting and consists of only a lecture style of delivery.  This style of training goes against the interactive nature of the museum, given that one of the primary goals to interact with the guests.  I would like to start to explore the idea of building a blended training program for the museum, incorporating both interactive and individual components.  Here are some questions that I plan to explore:

  • How can podcasts benefit training?
  • What needs to differ between training for volunteers and paid staff, if anything?
  • What is the best content for podcast training?

As part of this research, I welcome comments and questions from you.

References

Brookes, M. (2010). An evaluation of the impact of formative feedback podcasts on the student learning experience. Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sport & Tourism Education (Oxford Brookes University), 9(1), 53–64. https://doi-org.libresources2.sait.ab.ca/10.3794/johlste.91.238

Evans, C. (2008) The effectiveness of m-learning in the form of podcast revision lectures in higher education.  Computers & Education, 50,491–498. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2007.09.016

Parson, V., Reddy, P., Wood, J., & Senior, C. (2009) Educating an iPod generation: undergraduate attitudes, experiences and understanding of vodcast and podcast use, Learning, Media and Technology, 34:3, 215-228, DOI: 10.1080/17439880903141497

The Audacity to Explore: Using Critical Inquiry to Examine Podcasts as a Learning Event

Team 1: Terra Aartsen, Lisa Gedak, Owen Lloyd, Kathy Moore, Leigha Nevay

As part of LRNT526, Inquiry into Contemporary Issues in Learning Technology, we were asked to participate in a learning event using a technology of our choosing.  Our group decided it would be beneficial to select a learning technology that was free to users and available through most devices (e.g., laptop, tablet, smartphone) to ensure broad accessibility.  We quickly agreed on podcasts since each team member was familiar with the podcast technology, having listened to some type of podcast previously.  After reviewing several lists of podcast publishers, we chose the University of Oxford’s podcasts as we were interested in an academic podcast from a recognized and respected institution. We selected the Futuremakers podcast as it seemed to fit nicely with the interests of the team members.

Podcasting is aggressively entering mainstream markets with more competitors and information resources for listeners (Pratt, 2019).  One of the great advantages of podcasting is the opportunities this technological medium provides; listeners have the opportunity to learn on the go, research topics, receive inspiration, or simply just stay up to date with current events (Berlanger, 2005; Fang, 2019; Hew, 2009; McLoughlin & Lee, 2007).

In addition to general research into podcasting as a medium, our group researched the pedagogy of podcasts and the impact of this technology on learning (Berlanger, 2005; Edirisingha & Hew, 2009; Meyer & Gordon, 2014; Salmon, 2007).  Our initial research revealed many positive accounts of podcasts as a learning tool, with Chester et al. (2011) reporting that “students generally perceive podcasts to have enhanced their learning, and consider the recordings as more crucial to the learning experience than attending lectures” (p. 236).  Further, podcasts can offer learners an alternative to classroom lecture attendance (Chester, et al., 2011; Brookes, 2010; Parson, Reddy, Wood, & Senior, 2009), as well as offering teachers the option of using primer podcasts as a pre-lecture learning tool (Goldman, 2018).

As a result of this initial research, the members of our team have decided to pursue the following lines of inquiry in our individual projects:

  • Terra will explore the use of primer podcasts to enhance classroom learning;
  • Owen will investigate podcasting’s suitability to improve access to learning by identifying how it reduces the impact of learning barriers like low bandwidth, limited access to new hardware technology, and limited access to traditional learning spaces;
  • Kathy will explore the use of podcasts for training purposes; specifically to train volunteers. This will also include looking at the social equity of podcasts given the requirement of a device should the learner wish to listen remotely;
  • Lisa will investigate the effectiveness of podcasts in supporting learner variability through the lens of the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework and guiding principles; and
  • Leigha will explore the abundance of podcast technology. Specifically understanding the impact of having too much information and what path to navigate ensuring a credible and reliable educational experience.

The learning event we chose to begin our inquiry-based learning is the Futuremakers podcast “Is AI good for our health?”.  Hosted by Peter Millican, the podcast explores the societal and ethical impacts of the use of  A.I. in healthcare, as well as the implications for the general public and their perception of what is a definitive diagnosis.  The structure of the podcast is conversational with the guests Paul Leeson, Alison Noble, and Jessica Morley.  Each person is well-qualified on the subject of Artificial Intelligence (AI), allowing for an educated conversation on the topic.

As our group selected podcasts primarily due to their accessibility, we decided that each team member would listen to the podcast in a different way to test the different learner experiences: Lisa would listen using Apple TV, Owen would listen using an iPod while on a run, Kathy would listen using a PC, Terra would listen on car radio streaming from an iPhone, and Leigha would listen on a smartphone.

After all group members had completed the learning event, we discussed our different experiences and the ease of accessing the podcast; all that was required was access to the internet, either to download the episode before listening or to stream it live.  This points to one limitation: podcasts could prove to have an accessibility issue for those with limited internet access. There was an instance where the episode stopped streaming through Apple TV and the team member was required to start from the beginning.  This type of interruption could cause listeners to simply stop listening to the episode or lecture, simply because they may not want to start from the beginning again. Our group also discussed the accessibility of podcasts to those with disabilities. Some podcasts provide captions so that individuals with a hearing impairment or a different disability can still enjoy the lecture, but this isn’t always available.

After discussing our individual experiences with each mode of delivery of the podcast, we moved to the impact of podcast technology on education.  This was our first step into our critical inquiry. Next, we will begin to explore our individual critical inquiries to analyze how this technology will work with our various topics of choice.

References

Bauder, D., & Ender, K. (2016). Using Multimedia Solutions for Accessing the Curriculum Through a UDL Lens. 1134–1139. https://www.learntechlib.org/primary/p/173088/

Berlanger, Y. (2005) Duke university iPod first year experience final evaluation http://cit.duke.edu/pdf/reports/ipod_initiative_04_05.pdf

Brookes, M. (2010). An evaluation of the impact of formative feedback podcasts on the student learning experience. Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sport & Tourism Education (Oxford Brookes University), 9(1), 53–64. https://doi-org.libresources2.sait.ab.ca/10.3794/johlste.91.238

Chester, A., Buntine, A., Hammond, K., & Atkinson, L. (2011). Podcasting in Education: Student Attitudes, Behaviour and Self-Efficacy. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 14(2), 236–247.

Edirisingha, P., & Salmon, G. (2007). Pedagogical models for podcasts in higher education. figshare. Conference contribution. https://hdl.handle.net/2381/405

Fang, W. (2019, December 24). Why Do People Listen to Podcasts in 2020? Retrieved from https://www.listennotes.com/podcast-academy/why-do-people-listen-to-podcasts-in-2020-5/

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, 57(3), 333-357. http://sttechnology.pbworks.com/f/Hew_(2008)_Use%2520of%2520Audio%2520Podcast%2520in%2520K-12%2520and%2520Higher%2520Education.pdf

McLoughlin, C., & Lee, M. (2007). Listen and learn: A systematic review of the evidence that podcasting supports learning in higher education. In C. Montgomerie & J. Seale (Eds.), Proceedings of World Use of audio podcast in K-12 and higher education 355 123 Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2007 (pp. 1669–1677). Chesapeake, VA: AACE

Meyer, A., Rose, D.H., & Gordon, D. (2014). Universal design for learning: Theory and Practice. Wakefield, MA: CAST Professional Publishing.

Parson, V., Reddy, P., Wood, J., & Senior, C. (2009) Educating an iPod generation: undergraduate attitudes, experiences and understanding of vodcast and podcast use, Learning, Media and Technology, 34:3, 215-228, DOI: 10.1080/17439880903141497

Pratt, S. (2019, January 30). 13 Predictions for Podcasting in 2019. Retrieved from https://blog.pacific-content.com/13-predictions-for-podcasting-in-2019-d52e7ed536ed