Over the last few weeks, Lisa, Leigha, Kathy and Terra and I been reviewing the application of Podcasting for education. A quick search of online podcasting sources revealed a wide range of uses from opinion based editorials, pop culture interviews, and even educational hubs.
There appeared to be no limits to what was available for download which got me thinking about the suitability of podcasting for remote learning in areas that have limited access to high speed internet and modern technology.
My initial sense of podcasting is that it’s a 21st century equivalent to Education by Radio, a topic I reviewed during LRNT 523. Here my intention was to examine radio’s suitability for bridging the digital divide by facilitating learning for rural communities. While both technologies, podcasting and education by radio are based on a single modality, one way audio communication of information delivery, the newer iteration is asynchronous, allowing for storing of the information for future use. Further, the ability to download, store and retrieve data locally enables information review thus eliminating the requirement of a stable internet connection for continuous data transfer associated with streaming data as well as issues of information transience that is associated with synchronous audio delivery of education by radio.
In their paper, Cognitive load theory, the transient information effect and e-learning, the authors investigated the effects of transience on cognition noting that segmentation played an important role in student learning. Recommending that information segments should be kept short to ensure learners had the highest likelihood of information retention (Wong, Leahy, Marcus, & Sweller, 2012). Further that complex knowledge presented unique challenges with an audio delivery modality.
Further drawbacks associated with educational podcasting were identified by the authors Dyson and Nataatmadja who noted that students did not use provided podcasts for a variety of reasons. Some students felt they were boring, or they had a preference to reading lecture notes or that they preferred attending lectures in person and did not need the podcast audio (Dyson & Nataatmadja, 2008). Similar issues were identified by Mc Garr in the 2009 article, A review of podcasting in higher education: Its influence on the traditional lecture where it was noted that there seems to be a difference between how it was anticipated learners would use podcasts and how they were actually used (McGarr, 2009) an opinion also shared by Selwyn in the paper Looking beyond learning: notes towards the critical study of educational technology where this author recognizes a disconnect between educational technology “rhetoric and reality” (Selwyn, 2010).
With that all said, there are plenty of good things going for podcasting that make it an ideal candidate for education with plenty of supporting research highlighting positive acceptance by students. Podcasting in Education: Student Attitudes, Behavior and Self-Efficacy indicates that 80% of their subjects found podcasts made it easier for them to learn and achieve better results (Chester, Buntine, Hammond, & Atkinson, 2011) while Lowe and Turner noted how podcasting is “a dynamic resource for creating, negotiating, and sharing knowledge” (Lowe, Schaefer, & Turner, 2020).
What I’m curious about now is how bandwidth plays a role in podcasting’s suitability for remote learning. Mc Garr’s paper referenced a work done by Betella and Lazzari that investigates podcasting problems associated with actual use (Betella & Lazzari, 2007). Bandwidth is a major road block to downloading digital media and will affect both the size and quality of the end product. Many areas in rural locations do not have access to high quality bandwidth and as such local area users are unable to take advantage of large digital files.
Over to you now.
I’d be appreciative of any research paper recommendations or information sources that delve into the practical, real world uses of podcasting and of high speed network availability across geographical areas. I believe that through careful creation of podcasting audio files an author could build an audio file that was both small in file size and short in time which I hope would reducing the effect of two significant barriers to rural learning.
Atkinson, L., Buntine, A., Chester, A., & Hammond, K. (2011). Podcasting in Education: Student Attitudes, Behavior and Self-Efficacy. Educational Technology & Society 14(2):236-247. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/220374783_Podcasting_in_Education_Student_Attitudes_Behaviour_and_Self-Efficacy
Bettela, 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
Dyson, L., & Nataatmadja, I. (2008). The Role of Podcasts in Students’ Learning. June 2008 International Journal of Interactive Mobile Technologies (IJIM) 2(3). Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/26521019_The_Role_of_Podcasts_in_Students’_Learning
Lowe, R. J., Schaefer, M. Y., & Turner, M. W. (2020). Professional development and research engagement through podcasting. 4
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
Wong, A., Leahy, W., Marcus, N., & Sweller, J. (2012). Cognitive load theory, the transient information effect and e-learning. Learning and Instruction, 22(6), 449–457. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.learninstruc.2012.05.004