Teaching with Podcasts
One type of Podcasting SMU is very excited about is Coursecasting. Coursecasts are usually audio recordings of class sessions but can be much more. For example, you could capture a guest lecturer who rarely comes to Dallas but whose talk would be of interest to future classes. Or you might pre-record class content if you should need to be out-of-town. Is there supplementary material that would benefit some of the class but not all, or perhaps there isn't enough class time to cover a topic? Create a podcast. Or, would it be helpful for students with different learning styles or learning disabilities to re-listen to a lecture? What about accommodating students with excused absences?
A Pilot Study at the University of Iowa identified several other potential benefits:
- Increases listening skills. Instead of concentrating on note taking some students will learn better if they can concentrate on the instructor.
- Clarifies. Individuals or study groups can listen to a Coursecast if they need to clarify a point.
- Saves time. How often have you been asked to explain a simple concept again that most students "got" the first time.
By requiring students to listen to materials before class, you could change the learning experience through reserving classtime for activities that cannot be delivered via technology. Or might you face the situation of the faculty member interviewed in The Chronicle of Higher Education who cannot help talking at "blitzkrieg speed." He was more than happy to create Podcasts for the slow of hearing. The same article quoted the positive experience of another professor who used his own Coursecasts to "check for moments where he may speak too quickly for students or run a bit too far off message."
Why should students come to class?
No doubt the biggest concern of faculty when they hear about Podcasting is: "Why should students come to class if I Coursecast my lectures?" As they say, this is a very good question which, fortunately, there are a number of possible strategies to address. If your course has a strong participation component, then there is already a strong attendance incentive. Similarly, if there are frequent class discussions, you could elect to not record these. Do you use PowerPoint or make extensive notes on whiteboards? If so, don't put these online.
Do I have time to do this?
Another concern is "How much time is this going to take?" Audio coursecasts do not need to be difficult to make, but will be even easier if you have a Teaching Assistant or perhaps even students in your course take responsibility. Involving students can enhance the feeling of ownership in the course.
Finally, there are intellectual property issues, both using content created by others as well as protecting your own. See the section on IP on this website.