Friday, September 9, 2011

67.About Podcasting and Ideas for the SL Classroom

A Teaching with Technology Paper
Carnegie Mellon
available at:

Well, as I continue on this reflecting journey through academic and not papers about uses of technology, with a key focus on ESL possibilities for online deliveries (and second language possibilities as well), I have decided to also keep in mind specific and more practical examples on how the move towards online learning can be facilitated, and certainly supported by specific technologies and tools.

Over and over the message heard and reiterate in all corners of research, deal with the realization the the tools are just that - tools. They can be good for something once they are understood, the experiences using them is shared and their potentials exploited and tried out, over and over, until new tools or different tools come along.

This is also the case for this very important read - I would say a must for anyone who wishes to move part of a course for ESL or the entire program into an online space. The use of podcasts should be, in my opinion, an essential element of the make up of the course.

There is plenty of research on the power of sound and multimedia, and the ability and flexibility of playing recordings with a purpose, at one's own time and place are undeniable positive factors, especially in a language course.

As indicated the article is clearly a practical resource. It defines podcasting and proposes three key uses for it in the education setting: creation and distribution of class lectures and support material, and the task for students to create podcasts as homework tasks.

A few points that truly met my interest include:

  • audio podcasts seem to be the preferred media by students
  • overall students listen to podcasts on computers more than mobile devices
  • they are used mainly as review tools, even when lectures are placed (for an input model)
  • podcasts can certainly help "educate further, but not necessarily educate deeper" (this speaks again to the need to work with sound educational goals, and the absence of such approach will not yield as effective results)
  • while objections to podcasting have emerged, one specific being the idea that podcasting lectures in higher educations leads to justification of absences, one can also consider the way in which this specific new way of working through new content can change the dynamic of how class time us used - making students work through content prior to attending a live session, allows for discussions, attempts to practice the content reviewed and engage in more meaningful activities during live connection sessions.
  • podcasts have in this sense the potential to restructure class time and teaching listening as a skill on its own
Finally, the practicality of this specific article comes to mind in reference to an idea, tried and documented in the last few pages. The idea is called: Podcast Pairs - students in a literature class work to create pairs of podcasts - one to read a specific passage and one to create discussion questions and reflections to accompany the passage. This simple idea seems extremely well suited for a language class, no matter the content area talked about. As I said, a really good read!

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