After many years of saying I’ll go it, I have finally taken to podcasting. Despite having what I feel to be a generally positive attitude towards technology and a very good working relationship with our e-learning unit at the University, it was always something that seemed just that bit too much like hard work, both to make the podcasts at all and to make them of a sufficient standard.
The benefits have always been clear to me. By clearing out a big chunk of passive consumption by students in classtime, I have more time to engage in active learning and student-driven feedback and discussion. In addition, students get to consume my lecture at a time when they are more likely to be paying attention, and they can come back to it as often as they like, when they like.
Two things have changed to get me finally over the hurdle. Firstly, the technology has become a whole lot simpler: I can record audio over a powerpoint on my laptop using Profcast, which cost a very reasonable amount for a single academic-user licence [sic], producing a MOV file that can either go to iTunes or (as in my case) to the University’s own Box of Broadcasts site. BoB lets me either stream the file, or have it to download, plus I’m able to restrict who can access it. I can even embed the files into our VLE, so students keep their one-stop-shop for the module’s resources.
Secondly, my negotiating politics module has given me an opportunity to do this in a more focused way: I have a six-week block of classes where I want students to be just doing activities, with minimal input from me. Last year I was appending a twenty minute lecture at the end of the class to talk about wider aspects, but these have translated very simply into short podcasts: I would feel it necessary to trim down an hour-long lecture for this type of delivery.
Naturally, there are some issues of compatibility and access, plus a need to work some more on linking the podcasts into the classroom sessions, but generally it’s given me the confidence to go and try this on a bigger scale next time.