The University of Wisconsin (Engage) suggests
Identify important concepts or issues students tend to
struggle with and develop a podcast episode that addresses each one.
We know that multimedia, Webcasting, and podcasting are "hot", youth
are enthusiastic about these technologies and getting started using and
creating multimedia does not require specialty hardware, software, or skills.
So how do we use this technology to help students?
Many teachers and students are using technology like
Microsoft's PowerPoint, usually
with an emphasis on flashy graphical presentations. Using content
rich multimedia that features audio content offers many advantages.
Projects can more-fully
integrate language arts skills by using scripts and storyboards.
Projects can also shift the focus to content-based
research (instead of simply searching for graphics for slides).
Are we ready to take the next step? The most promising uses of
Webcasting and podcasting fall into one of three categories.
projects and assignments
Let's look at each of these three options, but first, lets consider when
Webcasting (without subscription) or podcasting (with subscription)
offers an advantage.
Webcast or Podcast?
Both Webcasting and podcasting are about creating multimedia - audio
productions (similar to radio), narrated slide shows (audio over
pictures), or video. Today's PC technology makes these formats
easy to create - getting started does not require specialty equipment,
software, or skills.
Most would agree that multimedia engages students and offers advantages
for teachers - just look at the interest in using video, slideshows, whiteboards, smartboards, and ELMO projectors. Integrating multimedia can be
just as easy. Once we create multimedia files, it makes sense
to make them available to students via the Internet, an Intranet, and
formats that students can take with them and use as they see fit.
Audio, slideshows, audio-over-slideshows, and video can all easily be
formatted for the Web. Webcasting refer to simply posting files that people can
stream or download. Podcasting goes one step further, creating a
subscription services with an RSS feed.
The issues when thinking about Webcasting or podcasting are:
- When is it an advantage to post multimedia on the
Internet (or an Intranet) and allow users to stream or
download based on their needs? This is the Webcasting
- When is it an advantage to create subscriptions, RSS
feeds, that automatically download so that users efficiently
get content and can
use it on a PC; transfer to a CD, DVD, or a thumbcard; or
download to a portable devise (iPod, MP3 player)? This
is the podcasting option.
When to Webcast? Content that is not regularly published
and that all students do not need should probably just be posted
online (Webcast). There is no need to create a subscription (RSS feed).
Examples might include alternative presentations, enrichment,
remediation, resources that address special needs, and perhaps
review sessions for exams or quizzes. In these cases, students may
find it much easier to simply check a Website (or the school Intranet)
and stream or download those resources as needed.
When to podcast? Content that is published on a regular basis like unit summaries, weekly
homework reviews, and course lectures/classroom presentations, should probably be
podcast. This saves students time and more-fully ensures that
each has access to resources that they are expected to review and use to
be successful in class.
Next, let's look at the three ways that Web compatible multimedia
resources can be used.
Lectures/Class Presentations for Review
The most obvious use of podcasting technology is to record and
distribute class lectures. Colleges have traditionally expected
students to learn from professors that talk about class content. Students are expected to take notes and learn in a passive environment.
Many schools, professors, and student groups (like student associations
and fraternity/sorority houses) have been providing students with
written notes, outlines, and transcriptions of lectures. Audio
recording of lectures has been going for many years, ever since tape
recorders became affordable and portable. Today's digital
recorders are inexpensive, easy to use, and can create MP3 files.
K-12 educators do not expect students to learn from long lectures,
sitting passively for extended periods of time. K-12 teachers
talk to their classes for much shorter periods of time about content
that students are expected to master.
Perhaps using the term "lecture" is not appropriate, but K-12 teachers
can record their shorter in-class presentations.
These are also easy to record for Webcast or podcast.
There is not really much new here. We are talking about distributing the content of lectures
creating audio or video files of them. Technology for this, using
different formats, has been available for years. Capturing
in-class presentations will be the easiest
way to get started podcasting.
Advantages: Online Lectures/Class Presentations
- Very little preparation is needed - all one has to do
is turn on a digital recorder and go. There is no
need to create special content or take extra time
recording it - audio or video files of lectures can be created
"on-the-fly." All that is needed is to set up a
microphone or camera and click "record."
- Students appreciate having the option of reviewing
class presentations. While studies do not show that this option
actually increases student achievement as measured by
traditional exams, students do express appreciation and
confidence when they are offered this option.
- A recording of class presentations lets students listen
during class and take notes when they review the
presentation. If students do take
notes during a lecture, reviewing it can help
them check or enrich their notes.
- Providing students with access to course
provides support for students that miss a given class
session. No longer is there a need to tell them to
"get the notes from a classmate."
- Studies show that students primarily use recordings of
presentations to review, not an opportunity to missing class.
It is not likely to dramatically impact attendance.
This is the greatest concern at the post-secondary level.
- Providing webcasts or podcasts of class
demonstrate to students that educators are lifelong
learners. Modeling our expectations for students
is important. Creating resources to support students
demonstrates active interest in students' needs
- Taking advantage of the simplest ways to use
technology (such as recording presentations) will engage
teachers with basic technologies. This allows teachers to become
comfortable mastering new technologies and better prepare
them to make decisions about using technology to support
student learning. No one can make good decisions
about technology that they have little or no experience with.
- Podcasting presentations (providing a subscription via RSS
feed) makes it more-likely that students will use these
resources. The process becomes automated,
clearly establishing expectations for students.
- Webcasting and podcasting course content can make
information available to wider audiences. For
Harvard podcasts are available online,
Perhaps the main advantage to utilizing Web technologies
in education is not that we can educate each student MORE,
but that we can extend the reach of educational options.
Disadvantages: Online Lectures/Class Presentations
- Some educators are concerned that posting each
lecture online means that students will not come to
class. It should be noted that many have said the
same thing about notetaking services and recording
lectures with tape recorders. Students missing
class is not new. Studies show that
availability of lectures online has little or no effect
- Due to limitations of recording technology, audio
recordings of lectures usually fail to capture student
questions or dialogs during a lecture. This means
that many recordings of lectures miss important,
valuable contributions from students. It is
possible to record all important audio (including
student questions and responses) in a lecture
environment, however, doing so becomes challenging and undermines
one of the main advantages of recording lectures - the
fact that one can just set up a microphone and click
- While studies do show that students appreciate
having access to audio recordings of lectures, no
studies show that access to recording lectures increases
academic achievement or student performance on tests.
Educators must decide - is the minimal effort it takes
to create podcasts of in-class presentations worth
increasing student moral?
- Some teachers and professors express concerns that
providing lectures online overemphasizes the scaffolding
and tools that guide mastery of content. These
resources are not meant to replace textbooks,
participation in class, homework, projects, active
learning, and building networks of support.
All things considered - creating online audio files of regular classroom
presentations of material is probably appropriate. It demands
little more than using simple recording technology. It
requires no additional preparation. It gets us started creating
multimedia and Web-compatible resources.
Perhaps more importantly, when we start using technology in the areas
that are easiest to apply, we become ready to do more. No one is
promising that online lectures/class presentations will dramatically improve student
learning, but it can help students. It also prepares us to have
a dialog about how we can enhance learning, leading to the second way to integrate Webcasting/podcasting, creating
Because of the ease with which audio recordings can be
created - Webcasting/podcasting lectures is where many get started with
steaming/downloadable Web content. As valuable as this may be, it
is probably not the area where these technologies can be most-helpful to
Instead of using technology to deliver content that students already
have access to, we can work with students, identify students' needs, and
create multimedia resources to deliver alternative presentations,
remediation, enrichment, and address exceptional education needs.
Studies show that using multimedia, Web-based supplemental resources,
does increase student performance and academic achievement as measured
by exams. This should make sense because, unlike an audio
recording of a lecture, the process of creating supplemental resources
based on student needs more-fully ensures that the unique advantages of
multimedia are embedded in the formats and resources created.
Supplemental materials might include Webcasts or podcasts of information
that students need to review before class. Teachers
have always asked students to read texts or complete problem sets before
This enables the class to proceed on the assumption
that each student has had an opportunity to build a core set of
knowledge that will be extended in class. Students are more likely
to watch short, targeted presentations.
In a similar manner, short multimedia presentations can be assigned
before class to outline areas that the next class will be
built on. These resources do not need to replace traditional
homework and reading assignments. They can be used to review
learning objectives and help students organize prior learning before
Using supplemental resources that students review outside
of class frees up time in-class for more engaging, hands-on
activities. Providing students with online multimedia that
reinforces assigned reading and problem sets can replace much
of the time spent on lectures in class.
If students can be more-fully supported outside of class, class time can
be restructured, integrating active learning and project-based,
authentic assessments. It will be possible to more-effectively use
"face time" with students; collaborating as a class, in small groups, or
even one-on-one. The more engaging, interactive dynamics of this
style of instruction offers many advantages to students and
Supplemental materials should also be used to review core
knowledge that some students might have missed, providing remediation.
In many traditional class formats, when students fall behind, they
"flunk out." Technology can be used to develop resources that allow
students that have fallen behind their peers to continue making
progress in learning.
Most students do not continue learn when they feel they can no longer keep up
with their classmates. Students don't learn after they have
been given "Fs" - they become de-motivated, most give up.
Rather than tell these students that they have failed and that they
should sign up to retake the class, multimedia resources
can continue to provide support to keep these students engaged.
This will make it possible to allow students to continue their learning.
Perhaps they can complete a course on an "independent study" basis or on
a modified grading/credit system. Today's accountability movement
and tight budgets demand that educators find ways to keep working with
students - difficult or impossible without engaging supplemental
The key to creating effective supplemental resources will be to let
students' needs guide our efforts. Students are interested in
multimedia. Webcasting and podcasting engages youth - they accept
the integration of these technologies as authentic, worthwhile skills.
Each and every school district and post-secondary school has plenty of
talent and content specialists to create resources to guide learning.
Are we ready to harness that knowledge and expertise to help students?
Advantages: Supplemental Resources
- When created with an understanding of students'
needs, supplemental resources are the most effective applications of
technology. Studies show that quality resources
designed to extend student support and learning
increase student achievement.
- Locally created supplemental resources can
directly address needs of students.
Mass-produced resources from national textbook and
media companies cannot possibly reach out to students
in this type of targeted manner.
- The process of identifying needs, creating
supplemental resources, and using technologies to
deliver these resources engages students in the
process and demonstrates the competence and expertise
of education professionals. Teachers need to
model lifelong-learning skills in order to expect to
teach them to students. "I don't do technology"
will not be an option.
- Educators that are engaged creating resources for
students welcome the introduction of new technologies
that make it easier to create and distribute academic
support. Learning technology for technology's
sake is not an authentic skill - applying technologies
in creative ways to better accomplish goals and
objectives is an
- Educators can identify students' needs,
emphasizing areas that will help many students.
Making this worthwhile means finding media content
that will be most-widely used.
- Resources should be created in "chunks" - emphasizing
smaller units of content and skills. Shorter,
specifically targeted resources can be used in many
different ways, to meet different needs, and even
support curriculum in multiple classes.
- When resources are created in small chunks, each
becomes a "building block" that can be combined with
additional resources or used as a starting point to
create new resources. This creates
efficiencies and synergies. If content is properly
targeted, creating supplemental resources will save
teachers' time and effort and provide more support for
- Supplemental resources, in any format, can be
reused with many students, often for many years.
Creating resources, over time, will result in many
options to help students.
- Students can be recruited to create or participate
in the process of developing supplemental resources.
This can be integrated into assignments or
assessments. Students helping students while
extending their own learning is a powerful concept.
- Creation of supplemental resources provides and
ideal "authentic assessment" or project.
needs to be taught to students in a content-rich,
- Increasingly, more and more educators are
creating, sharing, and using online resources.
Developing collaborative relationships with other
teachers across the Web is a rewarding experience that
encourages professional development.
- As educators Webcast and podcast multimedia to
support their students, a vast array of multimedia
will become available, ready-to-use, all at virtually
no cost. Because virtually all schools have
the basics to get started, without any significant
additional dollars, technology offers an important way
to work with tight budgets.
Disadvantages: Supplemental Resources
- Unlike Webcasts/podcasts of classroom
presentations and lectures, supplemental resources
require more preparation work. Content
would be specifically created for specific needs.
Finding efficient ways to do this is critical to
- Supporting each and every student with
supplemental resources will take time.
Students and teachers should probably look for
existing resources that are freely available online
that will adequately serve a student's needs before
creating more resources.
- Getting teachers started with these technologies
probably does not require additional hardware,
software, or specialty skills; however, teachers
will need support getting started and be confident
that they can find help when they need it.
While long-term support is probably not needed,
teachers will need support learning and applying new
- Traditionally, creativity with technology has
never been emphasized in school or in professional
training programs. Integrating technologies
will require some teachers to learn new skill sets.
Of course, many educators already have accepted this
and are effectively and efficiently using
While requiring more preparation than Webcasting/podcasting class
lectures or presentations, creating supplemental multimedia resources and delivering them
over the Web is a more effective strategy to help students and
increase academic achievement. Because teachers are already
content-specialist and multimedia can be created without specialty
equipment, software or skills; the preparation work needed to create
quality supplemental resources is not overwhelming.
In order to maximize efficiency, supplemental resources should be
developed to support common needs - areas of the curriculum that can
benefit from additional resources, preferably across different grade
levels. Resources that meet the needs
of a given group of students this year will continue to meet the
educational needs of students for years to come.
The key is to think in terms of "chunks" of information, breaking
content into specific, targeted resources. Students will find it
easier (and more inviting) to review a series of short multimedia
presentations than having to work with longer presentations that may not
fully address their needs.
Creating a series of 5-10 minute, topic specific resources will be much
more effective than longer presentations that try to teach and review
multiple concepts. The idea is to keep the preparation and
production of supplemental resources manageable and present them to
students in a manner that lets them select the presentations that will
be most helpful.
Remember, if short, targeted resources are presented, students
can continue to select additional presentations that meet their needs.
Longer, complex resources are less likely to be used, more likely to
confuse, and often will frustrate students because the content does not
meet their perceived needs and interests.
Short, targeted resources also provide a series of "building blocks"
that can be used in different classes and contexts. For example, a
short factoring video can provide supplemental instruction for a
beginning algebra class and be used as an independent review for an
intermediate algebra class.
If teachers are careful to create resources that have the potential to
serve different needs and different classes, then a few multimedia
presentations can help many students. As more and more educators
create online resources, there will be more sharing and collaborating
across the Web.
Currently, many good tutorials, audio presentations, and streaming videos
are available online
- all ready to be freely shared with students. As more educators
accept responsibility for supporting their students with technology,
there will be even more online resources to choose from.
Because youth are enthusiastic about these technologies, students can
help create supplemental resources. This leads us to the third way
to use podcasts - student projects. In collaboration with
classroom teachers, students can be partners in the creation of
Perhaps the most exciting application of Webcasting and podcasting
technologies will be when we empower students, challenging them to
create projects as authentic assessments and as supplemental resources
for other students.
Across a K-12 district, older students can review academic content
while learning and applying technology creating resources to support the
learning of younger students. Upper elementary
school students can create resources for Kindergarten through second-grade students. Middle school students can create resources for upper
elementary school students. High school students can create
resources for middle school students.
These types of projects would have a great deal of value to all parties
involved. Students creating such resources would be reviewing
concepts that underlie the classes they currently take.
These resources will help students and teachers in the lower grades.
Teachers, collaborating with students, would gain valuable "hands-on"
experience sharing technology. Want to have fun learning
technology? Share it with kids!
Over a few years, a district can generate many multimedia resources,
in different formats, addressing different needs, in different content
areas. None of these resources need to be purchased.
The technology needed to create these types of resources is
already in most schools. The additional cost to more-fully utilize them,
engaging students in the process, will be essentially ZERO!
Multimedia, like radio and TV style presentations, offer great
opportunities to practice collaborative writing, editing, and revisions.
Planning is the key to quality productions. Students could be
asked to write proposals for projects, giving teachers a chance to work
with students, ensuring projects are content-rich.
Once a proposal is approved, scripts (verbatim transcripts of dialog and
action) and/or storyboards (more general instructions, sometimes
graphical, that outline what a production will contain) should be part of
the process. At different steps in the process, teachers can
review student writing, guide presentation of content, and encourage
edits and revisions to more-fully ensure clear, accurate communication.
Writing needs to be taught as a process - that is what today's
technology is for. A multimedia project should be created with a
plan and include a
series of edits and revisions. This can be easily integrated with
traditional-style academic research projects - start with a thesis; outline and plan for
research; creating a traditional-style academic paper; and then continue
to edit and revise that project for clarity, enriched-content, and
different audiences using multimedia.
This allows a teacher to collaborate with students, monitoring quality of
content and sources while teaching and reinforcing grammar and writing
skills. An academic paper can be edited and
revised for different audiences in different formats: news
layouts, Web pages, speeches with multimedia, radio style productions,
and/or video. Any of this could be podcast.
The result of this would be creation of content-rich resources, modeling
a variety of technologies and presentation styles, that would be useful
to share with other students. Permission slips (for both
students and parents/guardians), similar to the permission slips used by
the Madison-area youth TV show,
Club TNT, can be used to enable
teachers to post student-created resources on the Internet or the
These strategies create a series of engaging, student-centered
activities. Encouraging students to create and share resources
builds collaborative skills, bringing different groups of
students together based on common interests and needs. Podcasts can be used
as assessments - content and podcast production can
assessed with a rubric like this
one from UW Stout.
Schools that integrate technology in this manner find that everyone
benefits. Teachers get hands-on experience with important
technologies, working with enthusiastic students that are eager to
share. Students learn from each other, sharing what they learn.
If you want to see technology skills become integrated across the
curriculum, get students excited about applying these skills and sharing
them with their peers.
The main point to remember is that emerging technologies do not
replace traditional academic skills and assessments, in fact, technology
will enhance assessments. Technology can build
collaborative working relationships between teachers and students.
As always, content is king. The goal will be to continue extending
student learning by engaging students with authentic projects and
meaningful ways to use technologies. The results of these efforts
will be an ever-growing set of resources. Using permission slips,
these resources can be shared across a class, a school, a school
district, or the World
Today's students want to learn the technologies that drive their lives
and the world around them. Most schools have adequate hardware and
software to allow students to work with a variety of projects in
Want to see some enthusiasm for learning? Engage students with
Webcasts and podcasts. Respect their creativity. Support
their desire to use technology. Collaborate with them.
Create project-based learning activities in content-rich environments.
Don't be afraid to let them teach you what they are learning about
Want to really learn how to create multimedia, Webcasts, and podcasts?
Roll up your sleeves and work collaboratively with youths.
Choosing Podcasts to Use in Class
There is already a great deal of multimedia freely available online.
Why create your own podcast when you can find one that is already well
done and ready-to-go? Be sure that podcasts you use or recommend with
students are reasonably well done, both in terms of content and quality
of presentation. Here are some things to think about when
- Is the Content Appropriate for Your Class and Students?
Close doesn't count - find good matches. Don't
use this technology simply for technology's sake - look for
multimedia that adds something to your class and meets the
needs of students.
- Does a Podcast Enhance a Lesson? Be sure that
you are confident that a podcast supports your lesson and your
students. Using a podcast that does not fit with a
lesson just distracts and confuses.
- Does a Podcast's Style, Content, and Style Meet School
Expectations and Community Standards? The Internet
is a global network, teachers work in communities.
Accept that different schools and communities have different
attitudes, values, and beliefs. To be effective, any
resources needs to be acceptable to those that are using it.
In schools, resources must fit the objectives and standards of
families, administrators, and other school stakeholders.
- Is The Content of a Podcast Well-Organized? This
may be our greatest challenge. To be effective with
K-12 students, podcasts must be short and to-the-point.
If a presentation has a great deal of extra information or is
hard for younger audiences to follow, it will not be an
- Is the Content Compelling? Given a choice,
students would probably rather work in class with a teacher
than listen to or watch multimedia that is not interesting in
content or style of presentation. The whole point of
using podcasts in education is to create interest and support
students' needs. Don't bother with podcasts that will
not stimulate students.
- Is the Source Credible? Be careful that you
know who has produced resources you use and verify when a
resource was created. Even if you feel a particular
podcast has worthwhile content, be sure that you can
verify the credibility of the source before you showcase them
in your class as "experts." Remember, podcasts represent
a series - if you represent one episode in class as being
credible, students may assume all the rest of a series is
- Is the Media in a Format That You Can Use In Class? While
most audio podcasts are MP3, which most computers and players
can support; there are other formats. Verify that you
can actually support a given format before planning on using
- Will the Style of Presentation Work With Your Students?
Even if a podcast has good content from a credible
source, assess whether or not your students will actually pay
attention to it. Is the message lost in the
presentation? Is it too dry? Is a podcast trying
to be "too cute"?
- What Type of Additional Resources Support the Podcasts?
Because podcasts are just a subscription service (using RSS
feeds) for information that is being Webcast, look for
podcasts that are hosted on Websites with additional support
materials. Does the series "homepage" contain additional
information and resources? Are these resources
appropriate in terms of content and format? Will
students be able to use that Website to learn more?