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.

References:
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

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