Saturday, October 29, 2011

Podcasts in Education and Training

Podcasts provide a rich source of information in a platform that is flexible for all types of users.  They can be downloaded and listened to at the leaner's convenience.  Podcasts are also capable of being distributed through a variety of mediums.  Podcasts can take the form of the traditional audio cast as well as the newer video cast.  The content of the material included in a Podcast can vary in which each end user can find most anything he/she is interested in.  Podcasts also vary in content, providing entertainment as well as educational material.  

Some of the educational / training Podcast's, that I have found useful, are provided below:

The American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) provides Podcasts on their webpage: ASTDPodcasts

Great e-learning tips can be found at The Rapid E-Learning Blog: Practical, real-world tips for e-learning success.  Podcasts are provided from this The Rapid E-Learning blog page at: Download Podcasts from The Rapid E-Learning Blog

Another great site for Podcasts, and other e-learning materials (audio books & videos) can be found at the Learn Out Loud website.

Xyleme Voices: A Podcast Library on the Evolution of Training provides a rich source of information with a Podcast provided for each blog post.

Advantages to using Podcasts in education have been documented in recent research projects.  Evans (2008) identified podcasting as a form of m-learning.  Research from Malan (2007) described research studies where lectures were recorded allowing students to download the lectures as they wished.  These lectures were found to be used more as a review tool rather than as an excuse to miss class.  Additionally, they found that by downloading the lectures more free time was allotted during class time to discuss specific issues and for problem solving (Milan, 2007, as cited in Evans).  Other studies promoted well designed materials (in m-learning formats such as a podcasts): "by increasing the amount of control learners have over their learning process, can be more efficient and effective than traditional alternatives" (Evans, 2008, Introduction).  Thus, Podcasts and other m-learning tools can be advantageous to the learner when used as a tool for learning.

Alternatively, just as writing helps one learn more about a subject, so to can developing a podcast.  Developing a podcast requires a student to research a topic, outline their talk around that topic, and persuade the audience that their information is authentic.  One drawback to creating a podcast for the learner, especially if it is their first time, is the learning curve associated with learning to create a podcast.  Spraque and Pixley (2008) indicated: "podcasts have a steep learning curve.  The most difficult part is learning how to use an editing software program" (p. 232).  Once this learning curve has passed, learning the subject matter will improve.  Creating a Podcast can also be advantageous to the learner once they overcome the learning curve associated with developing a Podcast.

Training and Development have incorporated the use of Podcasts in a variety of capacities while training.  Some of these uses include: providing a Podcast to give additional information to the learners after the training project is complete, providing additional training material for learners to review prior to certification testing, and incorporating Podcasts into lessons as an additional source of information.  

Podcasts are easy to use and provide numerous benefits to Education and to the Training and Development industry.  As the use of Podcasts increase I believe we will see additional benefits for the end user, the learner.

Evans, C. (2008). The effectiveness of m-learning in the form of podcast revision lectures in higher education. Computers & Education, 50(2), 491-498. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2007.09.016
Spraque, D., & Pixley, C. (2008). Podcasts in Education: Let their voices be heard. Computers in the schools, 25(3), 226-234. doi: 10.1080/07380560802368132

Friday, October 14, 2011

Lewin and Historical Traces to Change Management

It is often good to trace the historical threads from where certain concepts originate.  One concept, change management, is one such concept that is worth remembering in today’s complex environment.  

Kurt Lewin is often identified as the father of social psychology with contributions to the theory and practice of planned change (Coghlan, Brannick, 2003).  Lewin added to the scientific management practices of Frederick Taylor by adding the human dimension.  This shifted managements focus from scientific management to a social-psychological way of thinking (Gilley, Dean, & Bierema, 2001). Papanek (1973) identified Lewin’s concept of job enrichment:

The worker wants his work to be rich, wide, and Protean, not crippling and narrow.  Work should not limit personal potential but develop it.  Work can involve love, beauty, and the soaring joy of creating.  Progress, in that case, does not mean shortening the work day, but an increase in the human value of the work (p. 318).

Through work from the Harwood studies, Lewin developed the following core elements to action research:
  1. Understanding the interplay between the work environment and the individual worker is critical for change in organizations.
  2. To understand the system, you must first seek to change it.  Lewin called this action research.
  3. Wed scientific thinking to democratic values for organizational change (Gilley et al., 2001, p. 145).
The core philosophy behind Lewin’s planned approach to change focused on changing group behavior rather than changing individual behavior.  This planned change took the form of action research which can be viewed as an eight-step processes:
  1. Entry
  2. Start-up
  3. Assessment and Feedback
  4. Action Planning
  5. Intervantion
  6. Evaluation
  7. Adoption
  8. Separation (Rothwell, & Sullivan, 2005, p. 43).
Action research should be viewed as a systematic way of thinking embedded in a cyclical process of questioning, assessing, investigating, collaborating, analyzing, and refining (Schoen, 2007).


Coghlan, D., & Brannick, T. (2003). Kurt Lewin: The “practical theorist” for the 21st century. Irish Journal of Management, 24(2), 31-37. Retrieved from ABI/INFORM Global (Document ID: 650633441).

Gilley, J. W., Dean, P. J., & Bierema, L. L. (2001). Philosophy and practice of organizational learning, performance, and change. Cambridge, MA: Perseus.

Papanek, M. L. (1973). Kurt Lewin and his contributions to modern management theory. Academy of Management Proceedings, 317-322. doi: 10.5465/AMBPP.1973.4981410

Rothwell, W. J., & Sullivan, R. (2005). Practicing organization development: A guide for consultants (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.

Schoen, S. (2007). Action research: A developmental model of professional socialization. Clearing House, 80(5), 211-216. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Cloud Based Service

HP recently announced that they were discontinuing their TouchPad tablet (Jaenke, 2011).  Additionally, HP is considering, after acquiring Compaq a decade ago, to sell off its Personal Systems Group, its PC division.

The announcement of discontinuing HPs TouchPad tablet may not come as a big surprise to most since they were a late entry into an already competitive market.  However, why would a large computer manufacturing company, as HP is seen from most, discontinue or sell off its PC division?  The bottom line is that HP is looking to buy Autonomy Corporation plc.  Autonomy Corporation is currently the second largest software company in Europe (Introduction to Autonomy).  Autonomy provides 'access to information' so people can form and understand their data and automatically process it.  This is provided by Autonomy's "pan-enterprise software infrastructure that automates advanced operations" (Introduction to Autonomy).

General statements from HP indicated that they wanted to concentrate on software and enterprise.  This move shows HP as one of the companies leading the push toward cloud software platforms.  Additional signs that corporations are growing their cloud based services can be found in Asia.  Google is looking to invest $200 Million in Asia Data Centers.  Google is planning on building their own data centers which house computers, telecommunications and storage systems (Kim, 2011).

New cloud based services are being introduced as features in new devices.  Look at the new iCloud being offered by Apple Inc.  This new service will provide backup for a user’s “music, TV shows, apps, books, devise settings, app data, messages, ringtones and images in Photo Stream” (Mossberg, 2011, D3).  In addition to these free service backups user’s email can be stored as well, although the email will count against the allotted 5GB of free storage per user.  Any user with an Apple device (iphone, ipad, ipod, macbook) will be able to view the data saved on their iCloud account from any device as they choose.

Anderson, (2010) provided futuristic outlooks, from technology experts, relating to cloud computing.  Their opinions ranged from the desktop computer will be replaced with cloud software peripherals, to a hybrid cloud/desktop in the future, to no further expansion of cloud based services than what exists today.  The majority of opinions agreed that cloud based platforms will play a major role in the future.  From Anderson's (2010) Pew Institute Research Report on the future of cloud computing,  71% of the participants agreed with the following:

"By 2020, most people won't do their work with software running on a general-purpose PC.  Instead, they will work in Internet-based applications such as Google Docs, and in applications run from smartphones.  Aspiring application developers will develop for smartphone vendors and companies that provide Internet-based applications, because most innovative work will be done in that domain, instead of designing applications that run on a PC operating system" (p. 2).

The move from HP, looking to sell their PC division and acquire Autonomy, is indicative of a larger move from PC manufacturing to designing and maintaining cloud software platforms.  


Anderson, J. Q. (2010).  The future of cloud computing.  The future of the Internet series, retrieved from

Autonomy.  Retrieved from

Introduction to Autonomy (2011).  Retrieved from

Jaenke, P. (August, 18, 2011). HP buys autonomy, also drops TouchPad and ponders spinning off PC business.  Icrontic.  

Kim, Y-H (September, 29, 2011).  Google puts $200 Million into Asia data centers.  Wall Street Journal, B10.

Mossberg, W. S. (October 12, 2011). The iPhone finds its voice. Wall Street Journal, D1 & D3.
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