Podcasting in Education: What Are the Benefits?

Podcasting in Education- What Are the Benefits-

New technology always has a heavy impact on education, and Podcasting is no different. Many learning institutions are cutting back on textbooks and investing in technology enhanced learning. Podcasting, as one of the latest mediums to emerge into the mainstream, is one of the forefront technologies in this change.

Podcasting offers the opportunity for lecturers to easily broadcast engaging audio content, which students can then listen to at any time and wherever they are. A student only needs to subscribe to a podcast feed and suddenly you can push educational content to them, rather than wait for them to come. Podcasts can easily be used in Schools, universities or colleges to engage students, and improve your teaching and learning practise.

Many learning institutions which have incorporated podcasting in their education system, have reported really positive results. This can be attributed to the ease of creating and consuming podcasts as well as the various ways in which education podcasts enhance the students’ learning experience. There are a lot of advantages of podcasting in education. Let’s take a look:

Podcasting in EducationFlexible Availability – 24 hours a Day

One of the greatest advantages of education podcasts is the portability and convenience they offer. Podcasts can be downloaded to a mobile device, allowing the student to access the learning resources anytime, anywhere, with very little effort.

There are podcast subscription apps available for nearly every smartphone, and these make the process even easier. In fact, iPhones come with an excellent podcast app installed by default.

Once the student has subscribed to a show (which you can make available really easily), they don’t have to initiate the download: it’s sent automatically to their app whenever a new episode is available. So, as soon as they sit down on the bus, there’s a teaching resource there waiting for them. This makes podcasts very convenient and also paves the way for truly flexible learning.

Students Listen for Longer than They’ll Watch or Read

One of the great powers of podcasting is the attention is attracts. It’s tricky to encourage students to spend 30 minutes reading an article or watching a recorded lecture. That’s because text and video require the student’s full attention – they need to sit patiently, doing just one thing. As you probably know, this is tricky, not least because of the range of distractions just sitting waiting on the next browser tab.

Podcasting, on the other hand, can be done in otherwise wasted time, or alongside a routine activity. Students are far more likely to listen to consume your material if they can do it on the bus, driving the car, washing the dishes or in the gym. Because they’re already distracted with a rote task, the content gets great attention. While text and video struggle to attract 2 or 3 minutes of viewing, podcasts routinely run an hour or more. One of the most popular shows in the world is a history podcast than can run for 3 hours!

If one guy can pursuade listeners to stick around for 3 hours at a time to learn about World War I, then you should be able to manage 10 minutes on your own show.

Student Created Content

One of the most interesting and valuable uses of Podcasting in Education is the concept of student created content.

You might allow students to create their own podcast, perhaps including questions, discussions, presentations or projects. These can then be made available to their classmates. This allows students to take control of an aspect of their education and, therefore, encourages engagement in the material. They can question, they can contribute and they can teach each other.

Lecture Review

One of the simplest uses of Podcasting is to record your existing lectures. This makes them easily accessible for students and creates invaluable study aids.

Students can use the podcast for reference purposes or when preparing themselves for upcoming examinations. Any student who had challenges understanding a topic in the classroom can listen to this podcast. The can study the content and understand the topic at their own pace.

This capacity to review, again and again, is particularly valuable to students from an international background or with learning difficulties.

Finally, as we mentioned earlier, it’s a struggle to encourage students to watch a 1hr video recording of a lecture. Instead, give them audio and they can consume it while they do their chores.

Make up for Missed Classes

When a student misses a class, it’s not always because they’re lazy. By offering a podcast, your unlucky, sick student who has missed a number of classes can, instead, download recordings of the lectures. As a consequence, they’re able to “fill in the gaps”.

Moreover, a lecturer who is unable to attend his or her classes for a week or two can create a podcast of the lecture instead. This is made available to the students and thus makes up for any unattended lectures.

Consistency of Student Experience

Lecture recordings can help a teacher or professor to ensure that they always cover any given topic in the best way possible. This comes in handy when the lecturer in question teaches multiple sessions of the same class. It helps the teacher to ensure that every student gets the same experience, the same information, and that the syllabus is covered uniformly.

Benefits for Mental and Visual Impairments

Perhaps one of the greatest pedagogic characteristics offered by educational podcasting is the chance to learn through listening.

To many of the current student generation, learning through listening is enjoyable and less tedious than reading. Educational podcasts are appealing and may encourage students who don’t like reading.

Many students may struggle with reading through mental impairments, such as Dyslexia, and podcasts can be a big aid in this. Podcasts are equally useful in cases where a visual impairment makes traditional learning methods arduous.

Where Next?

Using a podcast in your teaching can encourage your students to engage with your classes, your material and to never miss a thing. Podcasting is one of the best things you could do for your students. Why not give it a try! If you’d like to see some examples of podcasts that I’ve created in education over the years, have a look at our Edinburgh Napier Radio Show case study, or an episode I created for the SBOSE course at Edinburgh Napier.

If you’re inspired to try out podcasting, check out our How to Start a Podcast guide. Or, if you want step by step training and checklists in creating a great show, from planning to equipment, have a look at our full course catalog.

Image Credit: powerbooktrance on Flickr

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About the author: Colin Gray

Colin has been teaching people how to podcast since 2007. He's worked with Universities, businesses and hobbyists alike. He started The Podcast Host to share his experience and to help as many people as possible get into Podcasting. He runs Podcraft, to spread the art of podcasting, and does the Mountain Bikes Apart podcast whenever he can. Who doesn't like to talk bikes, after all!