E-learning with web 2.0


podcaster_3col.jpg- ► category - Podcasts, like vodcasts, can be used in a web 1.0 manner for information transmission, or they can be used in a web 2.0 manner where students create their own podcasts. Podcasts were originally seen as associated with m-learning, since students could load them onto mobile devices, like iPods (which is where the term podcasting comes from) or other MP3 players, and listen to them while on the move. However, research has consistently shown that most students prefer to listen to educational podcasts and use associated materials when they are stationary, whether they are using a mobile device or, more likely, a laptop or desktop computer (see Going Mobile below).

- what - A podcast is a series of audio files, potentially with accompanying slides, images and/or text, though if video is involved, the preferred term is not podcast but vodcast. Podcasts are distributed by syndication feeds such as RSS, with each new episode being downloaded to a computer using podcatcher software (with the best-known example being iTunes).
Once you have subscribed to a podcast, your podcatcher software will prompt you to download new episodes as they become available. Downloaded podcasts can be played on the computer, but can also be transferred to a mobile media player.

It is important to note that there has been considerable slippage in the use of the term 'podcast': it is very common nowadays to see any digital audio file referred to as a podcast, even if it is not syndicated. In fact, this is now the dominant usage of the term. Much the same principle applies to the term vodcast.

- ► why - Option 1 Podcasts can be used in a web 1.0 manner, with teachers recording them and students simply being invited to listen. Such podcasts can range from lecture-style presentations to intensive language learning lessons. This is sometimes referred to as substitutional podcasting (if it replaces in-class delivery of material) or supplementary podcasting (if it contains additional material). The term coursecasting may be used to refer to substitutional podcasting of lectures. Substitutional and supplementary podcasts offer many advantages in terms of recycling of material, whether that involves listening to a lecture a second or third time, or listening repeatedly to language learning materials. Because podcasts offer you the flexibility to engage in other activities while listening, they may have certain advantages over vodcasts, which require you to watch as well as listen.

Option 2 Podcasts can be used in a more web 2.0 manner, with students being asked to create their own podcasts, whether individually or collaboratively, often for publication to the web. This is sometimes referred to as creative podcasting. Spoken language is foregrounded, thus helping to balance out the orientation towards written text typical of older web 2.0 technologies.

- ► how - Option 1 Podcasts can be downloaded or streamed directly from the web, but the easiest way to access them is by downloading the free iTunes software. In the same way as music is indexed through iTunes, so too are podcasts. Unlike music, however, podcasts are generally free to download. Many educational institutions now make podcasts available through their official pages on iTunes U. For more information on accessing podcasts through iTunes, see Russell Stannard's video Using iTunes.

Option 2 If you're interested in creating your own podcasts, see Wesley Fryer's Podcasting page or the CastWiki, which is all about podcasting. For ideas on how to use podcasting for language teaching, see Nik Peachey's Tech Tools for Teachers: Podcasting.

- ► where - Option 1 The easiest way to search for podcasts, as noted above, is through iTunes. Alternatively, try Podcast Alley or PodOmatic, where it is possible to search educational podcasts.

Option 2 For a list of audio software - like the well-known Audacity - which you can use to make initial recordings, or to edit those recordings, see E-tools: Audio. Free podcast hosting services include Podbean and PodOmatic. If you wish to syndicate your podcasts through iTunes, see the iTunes Making a Podcast page. You can also upload podcasts to YouTube using MP32Tube.

- ► going mobile - While podcasts are easiest to access through iTunes, and while they can be listened to on mobile devices ranging from iPods/MP3 players to smartphones, the reality is that most users listen to educational podcasts on computers. This has the advantage of leaving users free to fully concentrate on the educational materials, to view supplementary visuals and handouts on the screen, and to easily make notes or attempt exercises.

- ► examples - Option 1 For examples of podcasts created by educators, you might like to try Douchy's Podcasts (on biology). A useful resource for English learners is ESL Pod . TESOL educators may find the ESL Teacher Talk podcast helpful. Most of the above, along with many podcasts in other areas of education, should also be available through iTunes.

Option 2 For examples of podcasts created by students, try the iHistory Podcast Project (a secondary level project from Australia). The Canadian Murmur is an oral history project which collects audio interviews with local inhabitants of a variety of cities.

- ► variations - Variations include services such as Voki or Blabberize, which allow you to create animated characters to "speak" on your behalf. See also the vodcasting page for more details of these and other similar services.

- ► dangers - Even when student podcasts are made publicly available, the dangers are minimal because there is no need for students to show their faces or include identifying information.

- ► more - For academic and journalistic references about podcasting, see the E-learning references page. You'll also find current information in the E-learning tag cloud.

Credits: The image above right shows a podcast logo by Peter Marquardt, available under a Creative Commons licence for download here. The terms 'substitutional podcasting', 'supplementary podcasting' and 'creative podcasting' are drawn from the work of Oliver McGarr and others.

Contact: There's no such thing as a finished wiki. Like all wikis, this one is a work in progress and there will be changes from time to time in organisation, content and links. However, don't let that stop you from contacting me at any time with comments, suggestions or questions.