I recently attended an English Teacher Professional Development regarding the use of educational podcasts in the classroom. If you are not familiar with podcasts, they include episodic series of audio shows broadcasted or streamed online to a computer or mobile device.
Podcasting in education is one of the latest trends, and at first, as a visual learner, I was skeptical of its true benefits. However, after the professional development put on by SMMUSD, I could see how it would be a very valuable tool and plan to try it in my English class.
The most important benefit that I think middle and high school students could gain is the training to listen carefully and take notes. This is similar to what they will have to in college. At first, it is scary as they speakers often speak very quickly, and if the teacher does not provide background on the topic, the students may feel lost. For students, who have attention issues, focusing on a podcast where there is no visual stimulation can be challenging. The teacher can pause the podcast frequently to ask higher-level questions or have students summarize key points to help alleviate this problem.
Some other benefits of podcasting include:
- They can stimulate creative conversation and debate.
- Students can download the information to a device and listen to it over again on their own time.
- Teachers can record their classes and lessons so students can review lectures.
- If a student misses class, they can listen to the podcast.
- Subscribing to a podcast will automatically notify students of new podcasts and enable the to share information.
- Students can listen to the podcasts over while they are doing other things such as walking or relaxing at the beach. It is a mobile learning tool.
- Students can create their own podcasts to share their research or ideas.
What are some downfalls to be careful of?
- Students may not pay attention during class if they know they can listen to the podcast later.
- They may try to prepare for exams based on podcasts alone
- They may listen to podcasts that contain inappropriate or inaccurate information.
Overall, I think podcasts are here to stay and with careful planning, consideration, and structure, they can become a useful educational tool in the classroom as well as in the home.