Podcasting for Learning in Universities
|Author(s)||Gilly Salmon, Palitha Edirisingha|
|Publisher||Open University Press|
Mr Paul Ayres
ESCalate-University of Bristol
|Review published||2 October 2008|
I'm jotting down a few thoughts about this book using a pen and paper, but feeling a little guilty that I'm not podcasting my thoughts for wider consumption. The cause of my angst? I'm reviewing Podcasting for Learning in Universities edited by Gilly Salmon and Palitha Edirisingha, which is one of the first academic overviews of using podcasts within Higher Education.
The main part of the book is a series of case studies about podcasting, mainly from the IMPALA (Informal Mobile Podcasting And Learning Adaptation) project, but these are supplemented by some more from other universities and countries. These case studies detail the experience of over 1000 students in 10 universities, showcasing the work of over 30 members of university staff. They cover a full range of subjects from physics to sociology, although there are no case studies relating directly to the field of educational studies.
The book also contains chapters on podcasting and mobile learning, podcasting and society, the technology and "how-to" of podcasting and a suggested model for educational podcasting. This is intended to broaden the potential appeal of this book beyond teachers and lecturers, to educational technologists, support staff, senior managers and marketing professionals.
The book does not fall into the trap of losing sight of practical benefits by dressing them up in too much formal language or unnecessary theory. Any doubts that you may have about small scale studies being over extrapolated should be set to one side as the range of case studies has been brought together using a common methodology.
The sheer range of ideas for using podcasts shown by the case studies, will hopefully spark off a number of ideas for ways in which practice in one subject can be re-used in another. Case studies covering reflective learning, active learning, students voices, fieldwork, distance learning and learning transferable skills, show that podcasts are flexible enough as a medium to deliver effective learning outcomes regardless of the subject.
So what are the lessons that we can draw from this book about how we can make a success of podcasting? Some of the key messages from the developing pedagogical podcasts chapter include:
- Integrate them into courses, with links to other resources and activities
- Record podcasts each week to keep them up-to-date
- Include sections that are not based on news items, so that you can re-use them
- Ensure file sizes are small and podcasts not too long
- Aim for a radio magazine style rather than a lecture format
There are some caveats for me - perhaps too many mentions of the iPod and too much emphasis on mobile learning. Looking at non-academic studies of podcast listening, the majority of people seem to listen to them while sat at a computer rather than on the move and there are other brands of audio player apart from those produced by Apple.
One of the key questions for me that is not addressed here is whether audio podcasting has "jumped the shark" i.e. has everyone moved on to video and our hopes of a radio renaissance been dashed? Thinking of my own experience, I have encountered the work of a number of academics through their blogs or even their YouTube videos, but I'm struggling to think of a podcasting prof whose work I have encountered through the medium of sound.
That said, this book does make a good case for the potential benefits of podcasting for learning in Higher Education and it may do the same for you.