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

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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.


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).

Goldman, T. (2018). The Impact of Podcasts in Education. Advanced Writing: Pop Culture Intersections. Retrieved from

McGarr, O. (2009). A review of podcasting in higher education: Its influence on the traditional lecture. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 25(3).

Selwyn, N. (2010). Looking beyond learning: Notes towards the critical study of educational technology. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 26(1), 65–73.

Weller, M. (2018). Twenty Years of Edtech. Retrieved from


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

  1. I think this idea is really interesting and thought provoking. I am very new to podcasts and am starting to use them for more than just recreation, so using them as a learning event could absolutely enhance the learning experience. I was shocked to see that so many people volunteer, I expected less to be honest. Have you thought of any motivational tools to encourage more volunteering to assist in podcast development? I agree with your teams outlook on feedback and how it is the best motivator in understanding what corrective measures need to be taken. Do you think there is a way to adequately evaluate podcasts? I see you stated ” podcasting resources are abundant and often without any means to verify author credibility and subject matter veracity” – do you think this is because podcasting is in the infancy stage? Do you foresee this changing?
    I have always been worried to use podcasts for research or academic writing, as I worry about credibility. I find it is a great tool to learn new information, but I have found it a challenge to integrate this into academia – both as a student and instructor. You have given me so much information to take away, thank you.
    Really good job Team 1, great topic!
    – Kerry

    1. Hi Kerry,
      Thanks for your comments on our presentation. My critical inquiry was on the topic of navigating the abundance within the pedagogy of podcasts. I focused my research around three questions; reliability, credibility, and abundance. I found it interesting that there are actually rubrics designed to test the credibility of authors. Something that came up repeatedly is how the changes in technology and this “force” to online education, has made learners become better researchers. Using information online, has made leaners innately better with research. Learners follow up on questions, pursuing clarity, and ensuring their sources are credible. I personally have found myself trying to find multiple sources for support versus just taking the first author or journal that pops up. I don’t think the desire to ensure a source is credible will change, I think it will continue to be a problem or question for learners.

      I too am very new to podcasts, I haven’t had much experience or understanding of them until this assignment. I have to say, this assignment has changed my views greatly on podcasts and I am eager to explore them more both for recreation and educational purposes.


  2. I echo Kerry’s feedback. Team 1 did an excellent job of presenting the many opportunities and challenges that podcasting offers, which is common to most of the technology and digital tools that are being introduced and used in the learning environment. In terms of the abundance of information and the ability of podcast users to assess the veracity of the information being presented, I think this goes back again to the complexities of the proliferation of digital tools used in education settings. However, I don’t think it should deter students, teachers, and facilitators to create and share; which is a practice that is supported by the theories of communities of practice and social-constructivist. After all, learning is a social process. Your team shared this sentiment in your presentation by illustrating the opportunities of the podcast and be judicious on its use by asking how, why, and what its’ intention. Thank you. Sharon

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