Due to its imagery-based learning and improved accessibility, podcasting has become a very popular tool used in online education, or rather known as e-learning. However, since it is so new there are still many things to be cleared up, and experimental research continues to seek the various possibilities involved in order to further develop its effectiveness. The article “Using Podcasts as Audio Learning Objectives”, by Zeynel Cebeci and Mehmet Tekdal, does a great job of explaining the current and potential benefits to using podcasts for improving the e-learning process, as well as hinting towards the paradigm shift towards more e-learning educational opportunities in the future. They state: “Currently, podcasting is being debated as a new promising e-learning tool that will possibly change mobile learning.” This statement suggests that podcasting will ultimately lead to a more aggressive approach and dependency on mobile learning, which is solely dependent on video and audio recordings streamed over the internet.
In my opinion, podcasting is a great tool to use for supplementing certain types of online learning processes. However, I would not go as far as to support the concept of allowing anyone to receive a degree fully based on online video or audio streams. I believe there is a significant amount of merit and credibility involved in going out into the working world to gain experience through internships and practicums, or showing up to a lab to dissect something, or even giving a speech in front of a live (in-person) audience, which podcasts cannot suffice too. Let’s face the truth, speaking into a camera or audio tape, knowing you can erase the content and record it again, is not nearly as stressful and demanding as performing the same task live in front of actual people. With that said, learning about a new study through the act of watching a video is perfectly reasonable. However, watching a video on how to dissect something for an anatomy class and receiving a passing grade equivalent to a university level course would never pass in my mind. So, clearly there is a time and a place for e-learning, and I believe that as long as podcasts are used in the right setting, they will continue to be a successful tool used to improve many aspects of education.
To add to the credibility of podcasts used in the educational setting, they have become an excellent resource for recording and posting lectures, as demonstrated in the article “Getting their iLessons”, from the Fresno Bee newspaper. In fact this is further supported in the article by Deborah L. Vess, titled “History to Go: Why iTeach with iPods”. Vess discusses the argument of how iPods can be used to download mp3 files of audio recordings, or even video recordings if possible, to listen to lectures from her classes. The Fresno Bee article supports a similar argument, stating that many Fresno State professors, such as Scott Sailor (pictured in the article), are recording themselves speak and then posting the data online for students to download and listen to the lectures.
The downside to this convenience is those students who take advantage of the system by not showing up to lecture and just downloading the lectures online. However, is there really that much of a difference as long as they are retaining the same information? This question is still being debated and most likely won’t be answered by any one person in particular. The reality is that the preference of the subject matter comes down to the professor teaching the course. As for me, my online master’s program has suited me just fine thus far, considering I’ve learned a great deal of new information, become more technologically savvy, and have had the flexibility to work my way through school by not having to spend odd hours stuck in a classroom.
Thanks for reading!
by, Steven Waite