Multimedia - Podcasting
Professors experiment with podcasts to help students learn
"If it is just a glorified tape recorder, I don't think there is much to it."
-- Andrew Green University of Miami lecturer
University of Miami lecturer Andrew Green is interested in how technology can make learning more interesting and effective. But he's been skeptical of how podcasting fits into the classroom. "If it is just a glorified tape recorder, I don't think there is much to it," he says.
This fall, Green is trying to find a creative way to incorporate podcasts in his freshman English composition classroom. He is one of eight University of Miami educators experimenting with podcasts in music, marketing, French, English and other classes. The project, set up by UM's Instructional Advancement Center, gives each of the eight educators $2,000 to buy software, iPods and mp3 players, microphones and other technology for the project.
In Green's composition class, students will conduct field research before beginning their writing, produce podcasts to record their observations and then share the podcasts with fellow students.
Andy Gillentine, associate director of UM's school of education, is using podcasts in his sports marketing class, designed for sophomores and juniors. Gillentine is making podcasts of his lectures and also creating special podcast discussions of sports marketing journal articles and his own observations on topics that will be talked about in the next class. "The part that I question how useful they've been is the lectures," he says, adding that his journal discussions and topical observations have been most popular with students.
Apple Computer is leading the charge for using podcasts in education. Its iTunes University, or iTunesU, lets universities post content, which may be password protected, for free on the iTunesStore. Stanford, Duke, the University of Michigan and the University of California at Berkeley led the way, but Florida schools, including St. Petersburg College, the University of South Florida, Florida State University, the University of North Florida and Florida Institute of Technology, have signed partnerships with Apple. UM is in discussions with iTunesU but has not yet signed a deal. ITunesU hasn't announced anything on the K-12 level yet, says Apple spokesman Todd Wilder. But, eSchool News Online reports that the Broward County School District is talking with Apple to set up an iTunes portal built specifically for the school system.
Student reaction has been mixed. Green was surprised that the majority of his students were not familiar with podcasting. They know how to download music, but that is the extent of it. Gillentine says, "They liked the idea of it being something different and something new" but adds that some students just see it as more work.
The Florida Educational Technology Corp., which advocates and supports the use of technology in education, will hold its 2007 conference for teachers, principals and other educators, on Jan. 24-26 at the Orange County Convention Center. Early registration is $175. More than 500 companies will display their goods and services.
K-20 Tech News // eschoolnews.com
ESchool News Online covers education technology, including new products, purchasing, legislation, litigation and case studies. The site, a companion to the monthly print newspaper, Marylandbased eSchool News, also has a Tech Solutions Center that includes information on available grants as well as new product listings and tech service providers.