Tag Archives: educational technology

Podcasting…what is it good for?

I’m a visual learner to the point where anything that just contains audio can’t hold my attention.  As much as I love books, I can’t listen to audiobooks.  I have a difficult time following the plot, and that’s assuming that I can stay awake.  When I started college, I tried recording lectures and replaying them later to increase retention, but again, I couldn’t follow.  I needed something visual in order to retain the information.
When I first heard about podcasts, I tried to find ones that would interest me.  I listened to podcasts on iTunes U.  I downloaded podcasts from NPR.  Just like with audiobooks, I had a hard time finding a podcast that I could follow.
When creating or using podcasts in an educational setting, I think it’s important to remember the different types of learners.  Auditory learners will benefit from podcasts the most, especially if they are listening to podcasts that review lessons.  Visual learners need graphics, charts, or text in order to learn material.  These students may find themselves unable to focus on the content of the podcast.  For these students, a screencast or vodcast that gives them something to look at will be more beneficial.  In my case, I found it easier to pay attention to lectures when I could take notes.  Maybe I am a bit of a kinesthetic learner as well.  For kinesthetic learners, podcasts and screencasts may be difficult for them to follow.  Simulations where they can complete an activity would be the most helpful.
Instructors can’t control what types of learners they have in their classes.  Most likely, they will end up with a mix of all three types, so educational materials need to be available for each type of learner.  A course that just uses podcasts to teach the material will frustrate visual and kinesthetic learners.  A course that just uses screencasts will frustrate kinesthetic learners unless there is a hands on component.
When I am designing educational materials, I know that I tend to create materials that would appeal to visual learners.  Because I respond to graphics and videos, I rely on those tools heavily.  I don’t usually record podcasts because they never cross my mind as helpful tools for learning.  (Well, that, and the fact that I hate the sound of my voice.)
I think instructors need to make a conscious choice to create materials that appeal to all learners, if possible.  It is easy to fall back on what is comfortable and familiar, but in order to appeal to all students, we may have to step outside that comfort zone.
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Fun with video!

I attended a workshop last year that featured a presentation from a librarian at Ohio State. She showed videos from the Digital Storytelling project and explained how students, faculty, and community members created digital stories. If you have never heard of digital stories, they are short videos (around 3-5 minutes long) that use images, music, and narration to tell a simple story, usually with a lot of emotion.

Ever since I attended this workshop, I have been really interested in digital storytelling and other ways to use video in the classroom. Unfortunately, my interest is far greater than my ability. Luckily, with digital storytelling, you don’t have to be the next Martin Scorsese to create a great video. I think this is why digital storytelling works so well. Anyone can create one, regardless of age or ability. You don’t need an expensive camera or a professional crew. You don’t need expensive video editing software. Give a group of sixth graders a Flip camera, and they can create a digital story.

Wesley Fryer’s recent post on Moving at the Speed of Creativity offers another great suggestion for using video in the classroom. Fryer suggests that video also can be used to create narrated art projects. Narrated art projects include an image and an accompanying narration that explains the work. This could be useful for all ages, from kindergarten all the way through college. Who doesn’t love to talk about their art work? Fryer also has a presentation explaining narrated art in more detail. I’ve included the link below.

I really love how digital storytelling and narrated art projects can be used for most age groups. It even can be applied across the curriculum. With careful planning, each of these projects could be entertaining and educational.

OSU’s Digital Storytelling: http://digitalstory.osu.edu/

Moving at the Speed of Creativity: http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2013/06/20/visual-notes-and-narrated-art-benefits-of-student-created-videos-on-youtube/

Wesley Fryer’s presentation on narrated art: http://wiki.wesfryer.com/Home/handouts/narrated-art