Podcasting is back, and stronger than ever. Growth has been phenomenal. In fact, Over 75 million people are tuning in to podcasts every month, and consumption seems to be growing at a rate of 25% each year. This growth can be linked to smartphone and tablet use, because podcasts are a great way to make the most of time while on the move.
But what about podcasts for people who are not necessarily on the move, such as university students? It’s getting there. Podcasts are indeed making their way into higher education for a variety of reasons.
- Unlike video, podcasts are simple to produce and edit.
- Podcasts can be consumed on demand.
- Podcasts can be used as an interactive tool for engagement.
- Sections can be paused and replayed as needed.
- Students can easily download and consume content very quickly.
How Universities Make the Most of Podcasting
Universities are slowly (but surely) getting into the podcasting game in many innovative ways. For example, the University of California, and Stanford University have actually made an institutional commitment to podcasting using the iTunes music hub. The music hub provides a configurable, front end web-based application to each institution, which allows users to upload and download content as needed. And it’s all free of charge.
They’re not alone. Berkley University provides each of their students with access to a site that is full of courses that are in mp3 form, including supplemental content. Then there are other universities such as Duke University, which recently got a lot of press for giving each of their 1,650 freshmen a 20GB iPod for audio learning and enhanced support.
Top Three Uses for Podcasts in Universities
In the past, countless students would walk into their classrooms with recording devices, to record lectures for review. That is beginning to lessen, as many lectures are beginning to be replaced by the use of podcasts. These lectures are typically uploaded by staff members to central distribution servers, where applications such as iTunes allow students and the public to subscribe to, and access the content. This is especially the case for distance learning institutions, such as the Central Queensland University in Australia, where they heavily rely on podcasting, and even groupcasting.
In traditional classroom settings, podcasts are used to deliver extended course material to students, which in turn will further prepare them for the actual course lectures. In these cases, they will provide a broad overview of each topic which will later be discussed in the classroom. The podcasts help enhance the learning experience, especially when instructors provide material summaries, tips, and hints. Courses that revolve around Language Arts probably benefit from podcasts most of all, as the audio content helps add to the cultural richness overall.
Several universities, such as the University of Mary Washington, University of Missouri, and the University of Leicester are known to use podcasts to provide feedback to students. In these cases, secure podcasts are created for each student and split into two parts- one for general feedback, and one for individual feedback. In some cases, the tables are turned, and the students are the ones to provide feedback to their instructors, or even each other, using podcasts.
We can’t wait to see how podcasts continue to rise in the university sector. Will it totally dominate and change the face of education? Never say never! One thing is for sure- as broadcast quality technology is becoming increasingly available, and this (re)emerging technology is rapidly growing in popularity on a worldwide scale.