This morning, I’m doing a quick scoping of the teaching and learning resources related to using Podcasts as an assessment tool in the Higher Education classroom. The intended outcome of this environmental scan is to see what the evidence suggests as best practice for designing and facilitating Podcasting assignments. My sources are varied, from Blog posts to peer-reviewed journals (see the bottom of the post for relevant links to the literature).
Generally speaking, the literature describes students as reacting positively to Podcasting as an assignment type in their course.
Curiously, much of the peer-reviewed literature around Podcasts seems to “peak” at the end of the oughts. Google’s trend data using the search term “Podcast” appears to support this: an explosion of searches for Podcasts, which reaches its relative peak in 20061. If this is the height of the Podcast hype, then it’s not surprising to see papers start to appear in the closing years of the 2000s reporting on the use of Podcasts in the higher ed classroom. But Podcasts, as an assessment type, seems to have moved along the educational technology “hype cycle“.
Rather than work that describes the use of Podcasts as a kind of assessment, I’ve noticed more research on the use of Podcasts as:
- a kind of instructional technology (e.g. recording lectures as making them available as Podcasts) and
- a way to provide student feedback.
Can’t help but think there’s an opportunity here for some kind of introspective and retrospective look at eLearning, using Podcasting as a case study.
Design & facilitation considerations
So, without further ado, here’s what people have said about creating Podcast assignments:
- It will take students more time to produce their Podcasts than you initially imagine.
- Limiting the length of the Podcast can limit the scope of production and, subsequently, time.
- Consider if it is a group assignment or an individual assignment: if creating Podcasts for the first time, students want to be able to troubleshoot tech issues with peers rather than feeling it’s up to them to solve their problems.
- To help tackle the scope of the project, and help with the technical side of things, consider scaffolding Podcasting assignment: break down the Podcast production into discrete steps and have students submit these along the way, in addition to the final version of the Podcast.
- Is the Podcast a means to an end or an end itself: are you assessing the quality of production or the quality of ideas?
- Consider providing explicit direction on the amount of time student should spend on post-production.
- Reflect this in the assignment rubric.
Podcasting as a skill
- Don’t assume that the “digital natives” in your class know what tools to use to create Podcasts, or, how to use the tools: Podcasting is a skill and they need to be taught that skill.
- Having exemplars of other students’ Podcasts can help student grasp the expectations and scope of the assignment; or, create an example yourself.
- One suggestion is to consider creating a Podcast as a live demo in-class: it can set students at ease and can demystify the production process.
- Make use of your campus’ technology resources when introducing the assignment; having the appropriate campus support introduce the tools and how to use them is a great first step but…
- Be prepared to devote class time to addressing on-going technical issues.
- Don’t assume that there is sufficient campus resources to offer individualized support for each group or individual in your class.
- Keep the tools inexpensive and simple: Garageband (OSX & iOS, $5) or Audacity (Windows, Linux, OSX, Free) should suffice for production.
- Are you considering peer evaluation of the works?
- Have an evaluation rubric: clearly communicated expectations help and you can search Google for Podcast Rubrics and find examples to act as inspiration.
- Who is the audience for the Podcast? Have a clear notion of who the intended audience is and be able to communicate that to students.
- A successful use of Podcasts in the classroom had other students as the audience: the Podcasts were used as a way to teach course material to their peers.
As an assessment tool
Podcasts as an assessment tool in Higher Ed (Blog Post, 2013)
Student Thoughts about Podcasting Assignments (Blog Post, 2012)
Four Mistakes I Made when Assigning Podcasts (Blog Post, 2012)
Can Creating Podcasts be a Useful Assignment in a Large Undergraduate Chemistry Class? (Conference Proceeding, 2010)
Podcasting (Blog Post, 2010)
As a feedback tool
Reflections on using podcasting for student feedback (Article, 2007)