November 14, 2005

Podcasting invades Higher Education

Came across this Educause podcast on podcasting in Higher Education. It features interviews from Duke University, where the Duke iPod project was launched in 2004 to measure their use in a Higher Ed setting.

I began to get excited: an inside view on the Duke project, about which I had heard some negative musings. The negative musings were right.

The interviews are interesting, but in a disappointing way. The first thing I notice is how the students talk about the artwork you can see on the new iPod colour screen as you listen to the music album. No-one talks about using the iPod as a learning tool. They do talk about songs. A lot. They also talk about the sturdy, small, durable unit.

Ah, then they talk about the use of it as a portable hard drive. Wow. Do we not have memory / flash drives for that? Do we need at $300 iPod to do that or a $13 Flash drive?

A year on from the Duke iPod experiment
The ease of the recording with a microphone is mentioned. Well, I've listened to recordings on an iPod. Not impressed. Trying to capture a lecture from the back of the hall? Hopeless. Better, though, is the use of the iPod to record data in the field. Then there's the story of the technically competent biology tutor who made an enhanced podcast about leaves and their latin names. Hmm, better, but still not making me excited about iPods in education.

The cost
Documentation, training, systems and marketing costs well outstripped the costs of the actual hardware. One student mentions the fact he bought an iRiver, because it was cheaper. I'm sure he found the recording quality better, too. But is the cost borne by the University worth the gains the students may have experienced? The fact is, there is no data linking MP3 use to improved results in this particular case.

An area worth spending time, not money, getting right
I am a great believer in MP3 players and recorders in education, but I am becoming highly sceptical when I continue to see public money spent in its thousands on iPod or MP3 projects that have no pedagogical underpinning. Teachers are being encouraged to blunder blindly into a new way of teaching and learning with no support, no extra time, no research monitoring the use and effect of the equipment.

I am happy to be working with some great individuals at East Lothian who are taking the time to look at how these new tools could be used and how to use equipment kids already have in their homes and at school. If the East Lothian podcasting project gets off the ground soon it will be with a lot of forethought into how this will really benefit the people that count: the learners.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Podcasting invades Higher Education:


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

The comments to this entry are closed.

About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.

What does Ewan do?

Module Masterclass

School leaders and innovators struggle to make the most of educators' and students' potential. My team at NoTosh cut the time and cost of making significant change in physical spaces, digital and curricular innovation programmes. We work long term to help make that change last, even as educators come and go.

Recent Posts