Bennett, Elizabeth (2008) Is podcasting effective? In: Learning from the Learners' Experience, 8 July 2008, University of Greenwich. (Unpublished)

Does listening to something, perhaps once, perhaps more than once, perhaps over and over again, mean that it is learned in a way that is useful to the student and that they can retrieve and reuse in an appropriate context at a later date? It is a proposition that seems to conflict with the situated learning theories of researchers like Brown, Collins and Duguid (1989), which assert that learning always lies in the interactions between people rather than in the content itself or in the minds of the individual learners. The general premise that listening is often more engaging than the written word and that diction, intonation and inflection add meaning might be acceptable at face value, but as Hargis and Wilson (2005) point out, ‘there are currently no examples which clearly indicate proven foundational pedagogical uses and outcomes for podcasts.’ (p.6). Though the technology is quite recent, it may tend to lead teachers towards outmoded, didactic approaches to delivery rather than the constructivist, collaborative activities recommended by more recent learning theorists.
The project followed an action research framework within the context of a Foundation Degree in e-learning at the University of Huddersfield. Podcasts were used to support the delivery of a module on the use of Web 2.0 technologies in Education. The aim was to explore whether, in this context, podcasting could be an effective component of online learning. In particular, the project asked:
1. do students like listening to educational podcasts?
2. do students learn from using podcasts?

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