Podcasts for Learning

Podcasts

The popular podcast Serial sparked an interest in Podcasts in 2014, so J.P. Pullen wrote an article for Time about the format, describing this tool.  Podcasts are simply audio files that can be downloaded onto your computer, or, often your mobile device to be listened to at the listeners’ convenience (Pullen, 2014).  Often when new files are available, they are automatically placed on your device and ready for you to listen.

Podcasts in Learning

The benefits of using podcasts include that they can be personalized, they are relatively cheap to produce, and they are mobile (Learning at a Glance, 2014).  In fact, because the podcast is an audio file that easily fits on a mobile device, so this method works very well for an employee that travels often for work (Malamed, 2015).  The rules of instructional design still need to be maintained though in order for the podcast to be effective (Malamed, 2015).

One example in a workplace for podcasts that fits the tool’s benefits is to cover important information for a workforce consistently traveling.  The workforce may already have the technology (smart phones) to use the information.  It may be quite expensive to get this traveling group of staff in one location for a class.  However, they could download the podcasts to their mobile device, and listen to it while traveling.  At the end of the podcast, there can be a cue to prove their knowledge gained, or perhaps a test to take when the vehicles are not moving.  This takes advantage of the employee’s time while traveling, so that training does not greatly increase the employee’s time working.

Getting Started with Podcasts

The idea of needing a full recording studio can be daunting, but most podcasts can be recorded with free software such as Audacity, a laptop microphone, and a laptop (Fizz, 2013).   Free programs such as WordPress can provide an RSS feed to connect the podcast to its audiences (Fizz, 2013).  There are some nice additional pieces of hardware and software that might help you, including a USB and recording device or certain filters to help with audio (Fizz, 2013).

Fizz (2013) also recommends recording with a co-host to help with accountability.  It is also important to understand the laws around recording another person, which needs to be done with his or her permission (2013).

Another tool that might be useful is Blog Talk Radio.  Blog Talk Radio is a podcasting platform that can be started at no cost that helps users start a podcast by providing technical expertise (Blog Talk Radio, 2015).  In this case, a phone line is used, rather than a microphone, to record the audio, and it can then be displayed on Blog Talk Radio’s site, or through feeds to other podcast platforms.

Resources

Some valuable resources for getting started using Podcasts are:

References

Blog Talk Radio (2015).  About us.  Retrieved from http://www.blogtalkradio.com/about.aspx

Fizz, R. (2013).  Podcasting 101: A guide to getting started.  MIT News.  Retrieved from http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2013/podcasting-101-a-guide-to-getting-started

Learning at a Glance (2014).  At a glance: Seven benefits of podcasting.  Retrieved from http://www.learningtimes.com/what-we-do/podcast-production/benefits/

Malamed, C. (2015).  Using podcasts for learning-updated.  The eLearning Coach.  Retrieved from http://theelearningcoach.com/elearning2-0/podcasts-for-elearning/

Pullen, J. P. (2014).  You asked: What are podcasts?  Time.  Retrieved from http://time.com/3608287/podcasts-serial-what-are/

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Blogging as Learning

Many know of blogs as a diary or ongoing list of articles written by people on the internet.  In fact, blogging.com defines a blog as “a frequently updated online personal journal or diary” (Byrd, 2011).

In an article regarding using blogs in higher education in Taiwan, Sun (2010) defined a blog as having four key characteristics.  These four characteristics are “personal editorship, hyperlinked post structure, strong archival features, and public access to the content” (Sun, 2010, p. 369).

Using Blogging in the Learning Process

Both Sun (2010) and Richardson (as cited in McCloskey, 2006) have found success using blogging in a formal classroom learning environment.  In Sun’s research, twelve pre-service teachers were asked to blog about their learning in their Teaching English as a Second Language (TESOL) course.  The teachers were also required to comment on the blogs posted by their peers.

In Richardon’s case, he had high school student create essays about different aspects of a book, and post these as blogs.  These blogs then also had comments and discussion about the literary themes or characters.  Eventually, the author herself joined the conversation (McCloskey, 2006).

Both of these studies showed the blogs give students the opportunity to write to a more realistic audience, conversing with peers with different perspectives (Sun, 2010; McCloskey, 2006).  Richardson particularly noted how one girl who was afraid to speak up in a classroom setting shared valuable ideas and insights when given this different format (McCloskey, 2006).

Starting a Blog

O’Gara (2013) recommends that a new blogger first choose his or her platform.  O’Gara specifically notes that many of these platforms are free and very useful, such as WordPress.  After picking the blog’s platform, the writer needs to decide the topic he or she will write about (O’Gara, 2013).  The blogger’s theme and style will most likley develop over-time, although this can also be intentional and decided at this point (O’Gara, 2013).  Lastly, the blogger simply needs to write (O’Gara, 2013).

Resources

Here are three resources, if you are considering creating a blog.

Free blogging platforms: http://www.digitaltrends.com/social-media/best-free-blogging-sites/

Fifteen reasons to blog: http://www.becomingminimalist.com/15-reasons-i-think-you-should-blog/

Getting started with blogging: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/getting-started-with-blogging/

References

Byrd, K. (2011).  What is a blog?  Retrieved from http://blogbasics.com/what-is-a-blog/#ixzz3bkSuxMRE

O’Gara, J. (2013).  How to start a blog.  http://www.digitaltrends.com/web/how-to-start-a-blog/

Sun, Y. (2010).  Developing reflective cyber communities in the blogosphere: A case study in Taiwan higher education.  Teaching in Higher Education, 15(4), 369-381.