A Model for Using Podcasts for Learning

I was pleased to read an article online about a professor at the University of Connecticut that is approaching podcasting in a way that fits well with our NJIT on iTunes U philosophy for faculty podcasts. Psychology professor David Miller didn't want to simply record lectures from his large (315 students) General Psych course. He wanted to increase student interaction.

"As the first person to incorporate podcasting into courses at the University of Connecticut in fall 2005, I decided not to simply 'coursecast,'" he says. "Though there are times when coursecasting may be useful, I felt that there was nothing particularly novel about recording lectures. Creating this simple record was not my main purpose for podcasting."

He calls his project iCube. You can sample some of his content there. He sits down for a weekly one-hour discussion of course material in which students meet with him, discuss psychology, and he records the session. It started as a way to make an exam review session accessible to all students in the class, but has gone beyond that.

"We not only discuss course material, but also any other topics of interest related to psychology," explains Miller. "Some students have even switched to psychology because of their active participation. Students who participate in the recordings get to know me very well, and vice versa."

Professor Miller also uses "precasts" and "postcasts." Precasts are enhanced podcasts (images with synchronized audio narration) to give students a preview of important points to look for in an upcoming lecture. He also plays the precast before the lecture for students who arrive early. That's what we called the anticipatory set in my K-12 teaching days when we were introduced to Hunter's direct instruction model. Then, for closure, he creates short audio recordings (postcasts) to address difficult concepts that were discussed that day.

I'm not a proponent of podcasting because everyone else is podcasting, but this approach is one that can really have a positive effect on student learning. Now, to get some of the NJIT faculty to try some pre- & post- casts.


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