Yesterday I posted on how to create an audiocast. At the end of my posting I ask everyone to think about how to use audiocasts in an educational setting. Notice that I posed the questions as audiocasts for educational purposes. What I did not say was audiocasts in the classroom. One of my primary reasons for supporting the use of technology in education is to expand education beyond the walls of the classroom. The key to realize is that there are no new answers to this question; rather audiocasting presents a new medium for the same activities teachers have been using for years. What is new is that this medium opens countless opportunities to use these new activities.
1) Teacher lectures
The most obvious use of audiocasting is recording lectures. When to record and how to use these recording vary depending on the comfort level of the instructor and the accessibility of the students to such recordings. Two options exist for teachers to record lectures for use as audiocast. One is during class. A teacher can do this easily using a handheld recorder such as the attachment to an iPod or the internal microphone on a Creative Zen. Recording during a presentation presents some limitations as to the use of the audiocast. Primarily this audiocast can only be use by students for reviews. Students preparing for an exam or a presentation can replay the lecture. Students who missed a lecture due to an absence in class can review the information missed. While this is a nice gesture, I see more advantages to recording lectures prior to class. That said, I have enjoyed several lectures recorded in this fashion. The difference I have noticed in those audiocast of lectures recorded while the instructor is presenting is those lectures seem to be geared toward fellow teachers; a professional development session. My belief is that most instructors realize that few students will replay an entire lecture, so the instructor realize that he or she can better spend the time making an audiocast for other reasons.
The second method for teachers to record lectures is those lectures recorded prior to class. This provides various opportunities of use, depending on student availability to technology. “Why would I record my lecture prior to class?” Obviously when you are planning your lessons recording your lecture gives you a chance to preview your information. We always tell our students to proof read their work; occasionally we should follow our own advice. Second consideration when pre-recording lectures is the access to technology of your student. While teaching three sections of World History last year I began to record my lectures prior to class and combining the recordings with visuals using Microsoft Producer. This added a concrete image to the words. My students had access to computers during class. After providing my students with an outline my students were able to listen to the lecture at a self-guided pace. This allowed me to pace around the room answering specific questions in a less intimidating environment. It also allowed my students to replay portions of the lecture without the fear that associates itself in asking “what did he say”. It also ensured that my lectures were consistent, at least in basics.
While I was able to do this because of consistent student access to computers, students with iPods or similar MP3 players could still complete such an activity in class. Our class schedule is block, so typically I would follow a lecture in this format with a partner activity applying the lectured information. I found through trial and error that students use twice as much time to listen and write down notes from a recorded lecture as the actual time elapsed if the lecture played through without interruption. Therefore in a block setting I would record twenty minutes of information and students would complete the lecture in about forty minutes. If I wanted my students to download from iTunes the audiocast for Friday’s class, I would make that available for my students beginning on the Monday prior. This four day time gap will ensure ample opportunity before or after school or at home for students to download this audiocast. Then in class I would handout copies of the visuals and the accompanying questions/activities. If the students had a video iPod or similar video player you could create an enhanced audiocast. (Information on this comes in future postings.)
But not all of my students have iPods or access to computers, how can I use audiocasts?
2) Exam reviews
Over the past year I have listened to several teacher audiocasts providing students with exam reviews. Remember that students can listen to audiocasts directly on a computer. Even students with slow internet connections can download the audiocast and then listen after the download completes. I have listened to some teachers who provide bonus points for students who can name the music played during a review or provide bonus information that only students who listened to the audiocast would know to review. This type of bonus information also provides the instructor with an unscientific means of assessing the use by students of such reviews. And since they are bonus, students who do not take advantage of these opportunities face no penalty.
These ideas are great (thanks), but what if my students listen to Friday’s lecture before Friday or stop listening to my lecture because they know I am recording it and will post it online?
3) Application of Knowledge
If those teachers who find this to be a problem could please share with me how they were able to do this I would appreciate the secret. If you can get the students to review the information for class before the class day reserved for that information you are in my circle of envy. This means that you can spend your entire class completing activities and applying the information they have gained. This is like students reading the textbook before the class.
I recall a discussion from a professor at Duke who cited just this complaint. I wish I bookmarked the comment, but I could not believe what I read. He was actually upset that students did not attend his classes because students could pass his exams by listening to his audiocasts. I had a professor who did the same thing, only we could pass his exams by reading the book. Had the availability to download the lecture existed I would have save the money spent on the book. I would assume that a professor at a university with the reputation of Duke would understand that if students can come to class with the information then this provides you the opportunity to use this information. Imagine never having to lecture again and guiding students through creative assessments where they apply rather than regurgitate the information. Alas, these thoughts are becoming a separate monster that we should save for a future discussion.
While these general ideas are great do not forget about student audiocasts.
4) Student Created Audiocasts
This is truly an avenue of endless opportunities. In my World History courses my students created on-line text books and recorded brief (three minute) lectures highlighting three items they viewed as significant. As soon as we linked these recordings to their blogs, you could not believe the sense of accomplishment I saw. In my English course my students recorded an audiocast of a personal essay based on the NPR series “This I Believe”. I received more positive feedback from this activity than any other throughout the year. The written portion of this activity was my focus, but I allowed the students to record their essays after we listened to some from NPR. They recorded while other students edited their essays.
These are just general thought on audiocasting. While I am of course bias toward the social sciences and English, think of how useful this would be in any discipline. After all, every discipline is just a new language. My historical people are French nouns. My literary terms are scientific formulas.
I recommend subscribing to some of the audiocast listed below. Either access the websites directly by clicking the link below or search iTunes’s podcast directory for key words. Listen to a few and start jotting down your ideas. If you are worried that you will lose your list before you finishing planning your lessons for this fall; I have a great idea. Post your list as a comment to this article. Then whenever you need to you can refer to this posting. This will give you a reason to view the ideas of other teachers and see what new ideas arise. If you have written a similar blog posting link us to it. I am curious to all the various ideas we can pile up.
St. Thomas Aquinas High School–link does not work, but do an iTunes search for the morning announcements
Enjoy your day,