A meeting about podcasts

Encontro sobre podcasts  http://www.iep.uminho.pt/encontro.podcast/
8 – 9 July 2009, University of Minho, Braga, Portugal.

I was fortunate to attend a two-day conference on podcasting organised by my colleague Dr Ana Amelia Amorim Carvalho. There were more than 100 delegates from different parts of Portugal representing all areas of education – primary, secondary, higher, and non-formal educational institutions, all having different levels of expertise in podcasting and other web 2.0 technologies for learning.

The first day was devoted to presentations by delegates – teachers from schools and lecturers from universities – reporting their own experiences of developing podcasts, and their students’ experiences of creating (yes – students creating podcasts) and learning from podcasts. Thanks to Joanna, who translated the proceedings, I was able to understand most of the presentations and discussions at the conference.

The teachers’ and students’ approaches to podcasting deserve a longer, in-depth report, but here I’ll summarise some of the stories that I won’t forget.

  • Primary school children creating podcasts of the books that they studied with their parents. The teacher gives each child (6 year olds) a book to take home, and then parents read stories (from the book) to their child. The teacher gets groups of 3 children to create podcasts based on the stories that they learned at home. The children create podcasts themselves – that means, outlining what they are going to record, doing the actual recording, selecting which bits of recording to go into podcasts, and finally editing (with some help from the teacher).
  • High school students creating video podcasts related to literature classes. Students study literature texts and record what they learned and discussions as podcasts. These podcasts are made available on a public website where anyone can listen and view them and make comments.
  • High school children learning maths using podcasts. Their teacher was looking for a way of providing additional maths support for her students. She was delighted when she found out about podcasts. She has created a large number of podcasts describing various mathematical formulas and solving mathematical problems. Students report that they can now learn and revise at home as if the teacher were with them.

I sat through 11 presentations: each deserves a longer treatment. If you can read Portuguese, visit the conference website at: http://www.iep.uminho.pt/encontro.podcast/ to know more about the approaches to using podcasts.

Finally, thanks to Ana for inviting me to the conference and asking me to share our own experience of developing and researching podcasts at Leicester and at Impala (www.impala.ac.uk) partner institutions.

Palitha Edirisingha

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