Are you listening to podcasts as part of your study program? I wasn’t. Did you know they can help improve your grades? I didn’t. If you’re anything like me, sometimes just trying to grasp something new or incorporate a new habit into a process already established is a pain. I once thought that it was an age-related issue since I’m a 55-year old grad student. However, it turns out that the research doesn’t show a correlation between age and the lack of listening to podcasts. And, there is no doubt about the growing popularity in podcasts, and audio books for that matter.
As an avid reader, I couldn’t understand the popularity. However, once you understand we’re designed to hear each other, not read each other, you can understand why people are gravitating towards these digital audio vehicles. This understanding seems simple enough, but it wasn’t until I took my first course in which the professor regularly utilized podcasts, that I began to notice the benefits of listening to the ideas and concepts versus reading. It seemed that I was able to grasp the lesson better.
The growth and popularity of podcasting and its use as a tool for instruction and delivery of educational information is the topic of extensive research. Along with researchers examining the efficacy of podcasting in education, they are studying how instructors achieve the best outcomes for their students while utilizing podcasting as an educational resource. With distance education increasing in popularity, the advantages of podcasting in education are becoming more evident.
Podcasting is helping students achieve better results
This is not a completely foreign concept, as many professors are already utilizing this technology. Associate professor, Murray Jensen at the University of Minnesota, started podcasting his anatomy and physiology course lectures to his freshman students. Jenson presented his experience in podcasting in The American Biology Teacher, in March 2007, with the assertion that the lecture is dead. He bases his declaration on the benefits he has experienced in utilizing podcasting to present his lectures. It is easy to assume that if a student can access the lecture at any time, students wouldn’t show up for the live lecture. However, Jeffrey Fratangeli, in his article Podcasting vs. Lecture; No Significant Difference published in 2011 in the Journal of Communications Media Studies, found that the students that chose to listen to the lecture on the podcast were also the students that were in class for the live lecture. While Jensen was on to something in recognizing the benefits of putting his lecture on podcasts, I disagree that the lecture is dead. Additionally, audio in education isn’t new. However, how the material is presented and how audio is used is getting a facelift. It, too, is evolving along with technology and student requirements.
Students are finding beneficial ways to utilize podcasts, which is where the real advantages of podcasts in education are taking place. Podcasting is helping students achieve better results. In a large study, involving four universities, a group of Australian researchers, led by Andrea Chester, and published in Educational Technology & Society, found that 80 percent of students stated that the podcasts made it easier for them to learn. Two-thirds of them achieved better results. There are four advantages of podcasts in education for students:
1. On-Demand Access – Students can access the lecture on their computer, on the bus, in the car, or while going to class. It allows the student to start and stop the lecture. It will also enable students whose work hours prevent them from attending the lecture to listen to it later. It creates flexibility for those who need it.
2. Examination Revision – By revisiting the lecture or supplemental materials, it helps students pick up on missing information or a missed lecture. Also, it helps when reviewing complex material. Chester’s study showed an increase in the download of podcast recordings the week before examinations.
3. Improved Learning Outcomes – Education and Information Technologies published a study in 2017, where students claimed that lecture recordings made it easier for them to understand lessons and learn. Also, it helps them to fill in the gaps where information was not fully understood.
4. Special-Needs Requirements – Students with special needs such as students from a non-English speaking background, along with students with learning disabilities find that lecture podcasts helped with lesson clarity.
There are many advantages for podcasting in education, and podcasts continue to grow in popularity for students who use them to enhance their learning. However, podcasting isn’t for everyone. The British Journal of Educational Technology reports that a 14 – 52 percent of students have disdain for podcasts and reject the technology. These numbers are significant, but it does not take away from the advantages of podcasts in education. Podcasting cannot replace classroom instruction, and the lecture is not dead. However, podcasting’s benefits for students ensures that it is here to stay as a learning device. I know that I’m sold. And, I’m suggesting that if you’re in school and your professor offers up the lecture or additional material on podcasts, don’t blow it off. Listen up.
Note: This is a reposting of an article I published on LinkedIn June 11, 2020.