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How Podcasting’s Simplicity Can Change How We Learn (Part 2)

Posted October 14, 2008 6:00 AM by ShakespeareTheEngineer

Is There Really a Benefit for Educators?

Yes. You are only limited by your own creativity. Although you can go in any direction you want, I'm betting that most CR4ers are wondering about measurable statistics and accountability. How will podcasting affect my students in a measurable way? That was the question whose answer I stumbled upon within the first month of running The ModCast, my first attempt at a podcast.

A Real-Life Use Case

The scene is not uncommon. I am working with students, after school, who have been out sick during a unit in which I taught how to write a New York State (NYS) Regents essay. Two of the four students have shown up, and I get started. Five minutes in, the third one arrives. I start over. Five minutes later, the final one shows up. I start over again. In the end, I am rushing to get everything in before the late-bus comes. The freshman leave, feeling overwhelmed. I tell them to e-mail me questions. All I get that night is a message saying, "I don't get it."

Differentiated Instruction Means Learning At Your Own Pace

After that fiasco (and dozens like it during my teaching career), I turned to podcasting for help. I recorded my uninterrupted lesson for the NYS Regents essay, trying to take my time, and still managed to get through it in about fifteen minutes. When students next came in, I handed them headphones, sat them down at the computer, and had them listen on their own.

The first reaction was what I expected. The headphones came off. The first student said she was ready, the second said he thought he was ready, and the third said she didn't get it because it went too fast. I put the first student to work. The second I left near the computer and had him get started.

The third student was overwhelmed. I went too fast. But instead of having to repeat myself, I tried something new. Instead of going over the lesson, I told her to listen again, rewinding when something was confusing – and then listen to it again. When she was done, she was smiling. "Mr. Mody, I get it now. I can play you at my speed." And she sat down and wrote the essay.

Later, I put some resources on the school's website so if a student was home, he or she would have handouts that accompanied a particular podcast. It is a lesson that is ready to go for any student who is out sick or just wants a review. Lessons are just how I want them to be organized. And I don't have to teach it again and again. After school, while those students are listening, I can conference with other students or correct papers.

Just Getting Warmed Up

So far, my podcast content has been flowing at a trickle as I've had my time taken up by new preps and other explorations (such as a serious amount of time dedicating to blogging). But every time I can sit down and put in some time, it is a lesson that I can archive and use again. Podcasting is a time investment that yields long-term returns.

Podcasting is also something that can be a great tool for students when placed in their hands. Instead of just reading another student's work online (whether it be a speech or a poem), students can actually listen to their classmates. That is what allows teachers to teach across class sections and class years. A great speech delivered in 2006 can still be heard with the same emotion in 2011.

Speaking and listening are two core skills areas of English language arts, which for me is a perfect chance to reinforce areas that are often back seat to reading and writing. But that is just for me. Podcasting can cover whatever content you'd like, while also rehearsing skills and developing abilities, like knowledge of audience, that can help students be successful from department to department.

A Tool, Not a Panacea

Podcasting is not something I would ever recommend to take the place of teaching. There are very few times that technology can take the place of a flesh-and-blood teacher who can assess and modify lessons to fit the needs of the students in class. As always, I present tools in The Whiteboard Jungle - not automated education. And a podcast is only as good as the podcaster and the content he or she creates. That being said, there are some great ones out there. I have provided links below for a few that might be helpful. You can also search for any type of podcast on iTunes. Even the ModCast will come up, and since I am a relative rookie, that was a pleasant surprise!

Resources:

Intro Music to The ModCast – An example of intro music to podcast
Example Podcast #1 – A great podcast by Rick Hengsterman, who teaches podcasting to teachers
Audacity: The Free, Cross-Platform Sound Editor
Kaplin Uses Audacity – The owner of TeknologikL uses Audacity to make his own ringtones
Garage Band.com: Non-copyrighted music (you won't get sued for using it)
Podcasting for Teachers - A book previewed by Google

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#1

Re: How Podcasting’s Simplicity Can Change How We Learn (Part 2)

10/14/2008 10:02 AM

advertiser said, buy one you can learn English and speak fluently in a week!

I bought three at the least, but I can speak no one sentence yet.

hehe, now they are asleeping in somewhere in my bedroom.

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#2

Re: How Podcasting’s Simplicity Can Change How We Learn (Part 2)

10/14/2008 10:31 AM

Professors at my college have instructional videos online and they do wonders if you don't understand a problem or just want practice. I believe that these videos make a significant difference (for the good). Being able to access these videos to supplement learning (as opposed to replacing) is a good thing. Plus teachers are able to go at a pace perhaps better suited for kids. Trying to cram a good lesson in 45 minutes or so is not for the weak of heart. This is where podcasting could have a strong foothold.

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#3
In reply to #2

Re: How Podcasting’s Simplicity Can Change How We Learn (Part 2)

10/14/2008 11:16 AM

Thanks for the comment, Jaxy. When can we expect Jaxy of All Trades to debut?

That is exactly how it works, or at least how it should. If you need additional remediation, there it is for you. I also like it as a source of extracurricular study in that you can dig deeper than if you simply keep your education to times in the classroom. That my students have, on occasion, spent time reading and listening to poetry on their own is a wonderful experience.

All it takes is time and some creativity and really, your options are seemingly limitless.

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#4
In reply to #3

Re: How Podcasting’s Simplicity Can Change How We Learn (Part 2)

10/14/2008 3:25 PM

Jaxy of All Trades has already debuted, with its second story (Beans! Beans! The Magical Fruit?) that ran yesterday! You are slightly behind :P

I definitely think that more teachers should implement this seemingly forgotten strategy to extend learning beyond the classroom.

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#5

Re: How Podcasting’s Simplicity Can Change How We Learn (Part 2)

10/15/2008 12:34 AM

Like Public Speaking or Teaching if you put people to sleep it is a waste of time.

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#6

Re: How Podcasting’s Simplicity Can Change How We Learn (Part 2)

10/16/2008 1:23 PM

Like you said, it's not a replacement for a physical teacher - but it's a good option for those times when the students' and teacher's schedules do not match up and yet both are eager to make up the work.

I'm glad there's at least one teacher out there eager and willing to make such a good investment! There are, however, too many teachers who don't have the time, initiative, or patience to bother.

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