The impact of Podcasting on the learning experience of distance learners

The psychology course team has produced podcasts as part of the DUCKLING intervention for their two distance learning programmes: MSc in Occupational Psychology and Psychology of Work. The course team developed podcasts in four categories: dissertation podcasts, assignment podcasts, research methods podcasts and feedback podcasts, and made them available through Blackboard since April 2009.

I recently collected evidence regarding student use of these podcasts. I interviewed several students, and I collected student feedback and comments from the Blackboard survey and discussion board. Here is an overview of what student say about using the podcasts.

 1. Overall, what did students think of the podcasts?

Overall, students appreciated the podcasts provided by the course team. They used words such as ‘excellent’, ‘helpful’, ‘useful’, ‘motivating’, ‘beneficial’, ‘reassuring’ and ‘I like it a lot’ to described their positive experience of using podcasts.

2.      How did students use the podcasts?

Some students downloaded the podcasts and listened to them from their mobile devices such as an MP3 player or iPhone, indicating that they recognized the possibility of podcasting in supporting their learning on the move. Some used the podcasts directly from the Blackboard, indicating that they might need further guidance on how to use the podcasts in a different way.

Some listened to the same podcast again and again until they fully understood. Sometimes they repeated listening to the same podcast for reassuring.

3.      What did students consider beneficial to their learning by using the podcasts?

Students identified a number of ways in which the podcasts particularly enhanced their learning experience:

  • Building tutor-student relationship

Students say that ‘listening to the tutor’s voice’ and ‘hearing the tones’ in a podcast resembles ‘direct communication’ or ‘getting their time’ and ‘having a conversation’. It makes their learning more lively and ‘personal’. Students feel more ‘interactive’, ‘connected’ and ‘closer to the tutor’ when listening to the podcasts.

  • Providing quality instruction and guidance

Students reported that podcasts are an effective way of delivering quality instruction and guidance. ‘Hearing the voice, tone, emphasis and pause’ helps ‘clarify’ things. It helps deliver ‘clearer instruction and guidance’ and provide more detailed information on specific points. It helps students ‘focus’ and ‘concentrate’ on certain points and ‘understand more of the content’. Students feel that the podcasts help with ‘consolidating’, ‘reconfirming’, ‘reassuring’, and they feel more ‘comfortable’ and ‘confident’ that they’re ‘on the right track’.

  • Increasing flexibility and mobility in learning

Students recognised the benefit of using podcasts in a car or on a bus, at work or at home whilst doing something else, indicating that they appreciate the potential of podcasting in increasing flexibility and mobility of their learning.

4.      In what ways did students think that the podcasts could be improved in future?

As the experience of using podcasts has been so positive, students expected that the podcasts could be incorporated extensively into the course through making available:

  • Podcasts for all modules
  • Podcasts for each unit of the module as a warm-up or summary
  • Podcasts explaining key units or concepts
  • Podcasts for each stage of the dissertation
  • Podcasts for e-library
  • Podcasts for recorded materials

 Ming      23 July 2009

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1 Comment

  1. What is considered beneficial of using podcasts from staff’s point of view? « Beyond Distance Research Alliance Blog

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