Even though I am on the editorial board of the Journal of Online Learning and Teaching (JOLT) I got the link to this article on podcasting from Stephen Downes. The authors look at a single geoscience class where lectures were supplemented by audio podcasts of the lectures being made available afterwards through the course management system.
They found that relatively few students made use of of the podcasts mostly because they didn't see the need to do so. When they did they did so because events such as a transportation strike meant that they had missed lectures. Although it is a small case study this confirms my suspicions that students don't listen to podcasts. In this case there also seemed to be a fairly high degree of confusion among the students about how they could access the recordings. A third of the students in the class didn't know that you could download the recordings either to a player or to a computer or flash drive.
In general terms I think that there is a real problem with using technologies like this simply as a delivery mechanism. It's ok as far as it goes and it does add to convenience but its certainly not innovative and doesn't do didley for student learning. If we really want to get serious about podcasting as an innovative and transformative medium (and maybe we don't) we need to explore creative ways to do it. This could include:
- Students creating podcasts themselves as a meaningful part of the curriculum
- Podcasts replacing lectures or simple content transmission (with seat time being used for more interactive activities)
- Podcasting being used where audio is important rather than text eg language instruction or music based courses
- Podcasting as part of a larger multi-media essay produced by students
- Podcasting or making digital audio as part of a research methods course and creating digital audio of interviews