8th Irish Variety in Chemistry Teaching Meeting

DIT played host to the 8th Irish Variety in Chemistry Teaching meeting, modelled on the very successful UK Variety in Chemistry Education (ViCE) meeting on Thursday May 10th. There was a workshop in the morning covering two aspects of technology in chemistry teaching; using wikis, by Claire McDonnell, who demonstrated how to set up, edit and modify a wiki, along with highlighting the advantages of a wiki for monitoring group work – the ability to be able to track who did what and when. Claire identified this as the most useful aspect of wikis from her perspective in teaching. My own part of the workshop was on podcasting using Audacity, as outlined in the recent article in Education in Chemistry.

The remainder of the day was divided into two themes, Supporting Student Learning, and Broadening the Curriculum; followed by the keynote talk from David McGarvey at Keele.

Supporting Student Learning

There’s no doubt technology is becoming more and more common-place in chemistry education to support student learning. Christine O’Connor (DIT) opened this session describing her implementation of the use of podcasts to support lecture material and annotate worked examples. Her ongoing work involves investigating how students use these resources; some key points were that students liked the audio files with their lecturer’s voice, but they liked having print outs too as they could quickly scan through that material, which they can’t do with audio files.

Simon Collinson (Open University) described his work with Eleanor Crabb on the use of online chat-rooms to run tutorials (using Elluminate). The software allowed for voice, video, drawing and text from both instructors and students. Simon reported that while students liked the chat function, he was worried that with a large group the text box may get distracting. While students liked the idea of a microphone, they were reluctant to use it “on the spot”. Simon’s interested in looking at how providing students with some advance material ahead of the chat-room sessions might help reduce the cognitive burden involved in both being online and thinking about chemistry.

Pat O’Malley (DCU) used Articulate to prepare some pre-lab activities for students. Some clever ideas here included a virtual map of the lab, with Articulate Engage used to annotate the image so that students could navigate around the lab and familiarise themselves with where things were kept. along with videos on various techniques, he had a nice resource on how not to use a pipette, along with the result of a broken pipette meeting with a hand and some red stuff appearing. Pat assured us no students were harmed in the filming. In terms of getting students to use the resources, Pat described how he made some questions very specific to the resources, for example; what label (a) referred to in a particular slide.

Finally in this session was Mike Casey (UCD). Mike described the implementation of a student poster assignment, whereby the student had to take a medicinally relevant drug and make a poster on it, including the chemical structure, 3D structure, annotate functional groups in the drug and illustrate some physical properties. The students had to independently use resources to work out how to draw the structure and prepare the PowerPoint slide so it had a professional feel. What was most impressive was that this assignment was administered to class sizes of up to 450 students, and achieved a 96% completion. This was facilitated by using a lab session to introduce the assignment, and assign lab tutors to help students with queries. Each student gave a 5 minute presentation where the core organic chemistry of the slide could be discussed. It was a really simple, effective strategy, and Mike showed some clever ways of highlighting Ireland’s role in the development of pharmaceuticals.

 Broadening the Curriculum

The second session of the afternoon was on the theme of broadening the curriculum. First up in this category was Tina Overton (Hull) who took us through some of her work on dynamic problem-based learning. The idea is that after presenting students with their problem and context as in a normal PBL scenario (for example, designing a green-campus, costing the impl,emtation of bio-diesel for a bus company), students are given some condition change mid-way through the project—for example: changing costs of materials, changing legislation, a natural event (e.g. earthquake), etc. Students would then have to re-assess the intial information they rquested and see how to adjust their project given the changing conditions. All of this was carefully implemented through well-organised card system, which probably accounted for the fact that students didn’t seem to mind the changing conditions, which they were not expecting. Feedback from students was positive. Tina is making several of these resources available on the RSC’s website later in the year.

Marie Walsh (LIT) spoke about her involvement in the “Chemistry is all around us” project—an evolving network of chemists from around Europe collating resources for chemistry education. The website from the original project is http://www.chemistry-is.eu/and the new project is focussed on three themes: (1) Students’ motivation; (2) Teacher Training; (3) Successful experiences. The new website is being developed at http://projects.pixel-online.org/chemistrynetwork/info/index.php.

Odilla Finlayson (DCU) spoke about integrating research awareness into the curriculum, by getting students to talk to research staff and postgraduate students. The process was organised through a lab-session where students would meet researchers in their teams and find out about their research/process of research, and then report their findings in a group presentation. Students reported that they liked the idea, and were much more aware of the research activities within the School.

Keynote Speaker

David McGarvey (Keele) was the meeting keynote speaker, having won the 2011 RSC Higher Education Teaching Award. David gave a broad ranging talk covering various innovations he has initiated over the last number of years. These included developing context-based spectroscopy labs using sunscreens as a basis. As well as experimentation, the labs involved preparing a poster, completing a simulation on sunscreens depending on location in the world. One of the other novel features about this project was getting students to complete a mock assessment exercise using provided assessment criteria, so that students could really get a feel for how the assessment worked. David’s work on sunscreens is available in full at this Education in Chemistry Article.

Another project described was some impressive work with audio feedback. In the example shown, students had to prepare and deliver a PowerPoint presentation on a lab experiment. Rather than just providing feedback after submission, students were offered interim feedback on their PowerPoint slideshow. This was done using audio feedback, recorded with annotations using a tablet PC on the student’s work. David played a few of the sequences, showing the student’s interim submission, his feedback, and the student’s final submission incorporating the feedback points. It was very impressive, and a nice antidote to the notion that students don’t take feedback on board. Perhaps it might be better as a rule to give feedback on an interim basis rather than at the end? David’s work on audio feedback is available from page 5-9 in the July 2011 issue of New Directions [PDF].

David also managed to find some time to talk about his screencasting work, whereby he uses Camtasia to record screencasts to cover material causing difficulty to students, worked examples, etc. He recommended the use of a table of contents feature to allow easy navigation for students so they could jump to the section they wanted to listen to. David has also used screencasts as a means for feedback, in a collaborative project with Katherine Haxton, also at Keele (see New Directions, July 2011, p 18-21).

Thanks to all for a great day. The presentations will be available on the conference website by end of May.

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8th Variety in Irish Chemistry Teaching Meeting – DIT 10th May

The Chemistry Education Research Team wish to invite you to the 8th Variety in Irish Chemistry Teaching Meeting which will be held in DIT Kevin St on Thursday 10th May 2012. The meeting is sponsored by the RSC Education Division Ireland.

Programme and Call for Abstracts

The aim of the meeting is to allow those teaching chemistry at third level to share “what works” – useful ideas and effective practice from their own teaching.

The keynote speaker is Dr David McGarvey, University of Keele, who was the 2011 RSC Higher Education Teaching Award winner.

A call for abstracts is now open for short oral presentations (10 – 15 minutes) on any topic related to teaching and learning chemistry. The deadline for abstracts (150 words maximum) is April 5th 2012.

Attendance is free, but registration is required. Registration forms for those intending to attend/present can be downloaded here and should be submitted by April 5th 2012 by email to michael.seery@dit.ie

Workshop

An optional workshop will be held on Thursday morning (10.30 – 12.30 pm) on the topic “Using Technology in Chemistry Teaching and Learning” and will cover the following topics: “Podcasting and Screencasting”, “Using Wikis in Chemistry Education”, and “E-assessment”. The cost of the workshop is €10.

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Podcasting in Chemistry Education

My article on podcasting for chemistry has hit the shelves and has made the cover of Education in Chemistry. They have put it online too for free so, click on the image to go to the article!

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Using Pre-Lecture Resources in your Teaching

Using Pre-Lecture Resources in your teaching

Much of my study on educational research this year has focussed on Pre-Lecture Resources, working with Dr Roisin Donnelly at DIT’s Learning Teaching and Technology Centre and my colleague Dr Claire Mc Donnell. I’ve turned into something of an evangelist for pre-lecture resources, so in order to spread the good word, I have prepared this resource guide for others thinking of using a similar strategy. I’d love to hear from anyone who has considered this approach or is using a similar approach. The guide accompanies a presentation at the 12th Annual Showcase of Learning and Teaching Innovations, DIT, Jan 2011. Click on the image to access Using Pre-Lecture Resources in your teaching”



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Podcasting and screencasting for supporting lectures

Podcasting and Screencasting for Supporting Lectures

Prompted by my visit to Edinburgh next week to the “More Effective Lectures” workshop, I have compiled several blog posts and bits and pieces of other writing into a Resource Pack that I hope might be useful to other practitioners entitled: “Podcasting and screencasting for supporting lectures“. The resource is a PDF file and is available at this link: Podcasting and Screencasting for Supporting Lectures or click on the image below. The resource covers:

  • Introduction to the use of podcasts/screencasts in education
  • Overview of the design of e-resources
  • Tips for preparing podcasts and screencasts
  • Tools of the trade: Audacity, Camtasia and Articulate
  • Using SCORM compatibility
  • Publishing a podcast series to iTunes

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YouTube: Acquiring a UV/visible spectrum; choosing cells and solvents

uvvis

This video shows how to acquire a UV/vis spectrum and demonstrates the different types of cells and solvents that can be used – showing the absorbance ranges for each.

Funding from DIT and the NDLR gratefully acknowledged.

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Demonstration of the iodine clock experiment

iodine clock thumbnail

This experiment demonstrates the iodine clock reaction between iodide and persulfate ions, using thiosulfate as the ‘clock’. After some introduction details, three experiments are performed: studying the effect of concentration to determine the orders of reactants (3:01), studying the effect of temperature to determine the activation energy (7:47) and studying the effect of solvent polarity (9:42).

Funding from NDLR and DIT gratefully acknowledged.

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Class Websites using Google Sites and Podcasting with Audacity

Fifi

This presentation is a screencast of a presentation to be presented at Chem Ed Ireland 2010. It covers:

  • what uses class websites might have
  • overview of setting up Google Sites
  • Example of a chemistry class website on Google Sites
  • Uses for podcasting in education
  • Overview of Audacity

This handout accompanies the presentation. Lots more information on setting up a class website using Google Sites is available at the Becoming an eTeacher Resource. Module 5 of this resource focusses on podcasting using Audacity. Some other links are given below.

Links

Becoming an eTeacher – Five module resource on setting up and populating Google Sites for class work

RHS CP chemistry – Example of a class website for chemistry

Sounds Good Project – resources on using audio for feedback and assessment

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Variety in Chemistry 2010

I attended the UK Variety in Chemistry Education 2010 meeting in September at Loughborough University. Variety is always a great meeting, with lots of talks from practitioners about ideas they have had and how they got on after implementing them. This is my fifth Variety, and every year I come away with useful ideas. I’ve sketched out some notes below. I think the talks presented will be available on the Physical Sciences Centre website at some stage.

Keynotes

Two keynote speakers gave talks at Variety. The first was my own colleague, Dr Claire Mc Donnell, who won the RSC Higher Education Teaching award last year. The winner of this award always opens Variety. Claire spoke about various initiatives she is involved in at DIT, including development of effective learning support for first years, development of project based labs, incorporation of e-learning into teaching through wikis and discussion board support and her extensive work on community based learning. There was a lot of interest from the audience in the latter topic.

Prof Tina Overton was the second keynote. She won the RSC Nyholm prize for chemistry education, which is awarded every two years. Her talk covered a very broad range of chemistry education research – consideration of cognitive overload, measuring students learning capacity and their problem solving approaches – in examining how students approach and learn from the problem-based learning approach in chemistry. The outcome from a practical point of view was that problem-based learning, with problems usually set in a context, can overload students cognitively because of the many new pieces of information they are exposed to at once – so this needs to be recognised and supported by scaffolding and facilitating group work. Tina stated that students do become better at solving open-ended problems with practice through the PBL method, but that there was little correlation between their ability to do this and their final degree mark. There was however a strong correlation between students ability to sove algorithmic problems and their degree mark. Tina also received warm praise from the chair for her work in directing the HEA Physical Sciences Centre.

Ideas from Practitioners

The really great thing about variety is the ideas you get from other practitioners. A few of the best are listed below:

  • The on the cutting edge award: David McGarvey, at Keele, always one to try out and report new ideas, spoke of his use of audio feedback for lab reports. He gave some positive feedback on his trials, reporting that after an initial learning phase, the process of audio feedback took no more time than written feedback, but that audio contained very much more information, as well as tone. Students liked the feedback, seeing it as a good substitute for individual discussion. He plans to extend it so that students can respond, hence opening up a dialogue regarding the lab report. David mentioned a useful resource site for practitioners considering audio feedback: http://sites.google.com/site/soundsgooduk/ (I have also made an online tutorial on how to use Audacity for recording feedback)
  • The techy award goes to Stephen McClean, from University of Ulster. Stephen gave students videos camcorders to record their lab sessions and provide reflective logs on their lab classes. Stephen created a Youtube-type site where students could upload their videos, comment and rate others. Some more details are available here.
  • The simplest idea award (often the best) goes to Martin Pitt, who gave students two lab classes instead of one to compete an experiment. The result of this was that students could use the second class to repeat an experiment having learned from the first attempt, or try out new conditions of the same experiment. It was a nice idea, and Martin reported some good feedback from students – especially around the area of students thinking about their experiment the second time out.
  • The teaching-research integration award goes to Katy McKenzie, University of Leicester, who reported on an impressive programme of PBL labs, where students interact with research groups at the university as part of their early lab studies. Watch this space – I imagine there will be a publication on this shortly, there’s lots of great work going on at Leicester.
  • The I told you so award goes to Steve Hanson, Physical Sciences Centre, who reported on a large scale study of chemistry graduates. A report is imminent on the centre website – but some take-home points were that while graduates feel that their chemistry degrees prepared them well for chemistry aspects of their job, there was a dearth in the provision of generic skills, such as giving an oral presentation, problem solving and working in groups.
  • Useful resource award goes jointly to Nick Greeves/Kirsty Barnes, University of Liverpool and Paul Chin, Physical Sciences Centre. Kirsty gave a workshop on Chemtube3D – an absolutely fantastic resource for school and college chemistry; while Paul reported on the Jorum resource website, a similar idea to the Irish NDLR. Both of these presentations show the healthy state of the OER movement.
  • The irish eyes are smiling award goes jointly to the many Irish contributors to Variety. As well as Claire, there were several talks from University of Limerick, on student difficulites in organic chemistry and misconceptions in chemistry and a report from Mike Bridge of TCD on the CELLT project – involving several Dublin institutions and based on the ACELL model.

There were lots more – check out the Physical Sciences Centre website. All in all, not bad for two days work!

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Interview with John Biggs

Found these on iTunesU from La Trobe University (Australia) – interviews with John Biggs (constructive alignment and problem based learning); Vaughan Prain (teaching science);  Chris Scanlan (New media for journalism students); Lorraine Ling (future of education). Nice, listenable, relatively short podcast interviews.

Link to Biggs interview is here – this will open iTunes and the others are there [would like a nice iTunes embedder…?]

Image Credit

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Periodic Table of Videos

This is a really wonderful resource from the University of Nottingham. There is a video for each element showing its reactivity (or not), with demonstrations and insight into the underlying chemistry. The real star of the show is the wonderful Prof Martyn Poliakoff, below.

Prof Martyn Poliakoff
Image of Prof Poliakoff from the Periodic Table of Videos site

He offers in his unique way, insight into each of the elements, and now into a host of other issues about chemistry. His easy style makes the videos addictive viewing. There is a twitter stream and a Facebook page too. I’ve embedded one of my favourite videos below, and the others can be viewed on the Periodic Table of Videos site (or via their Youtube site). Prof Poliakoff will be speaking in Dublin as part of the Institute of Chemistry of Ireland Eva Philbin Lecture Series in Cork, Dublin and Galway, 23 – 25 March.

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Some Literature on Podcasting in Education

This post summarises a mini-review on recent literature on podcasting and learning in the higher education context. Along with the journal article title, a brief annotation is provided. I have previously written about Gilly Salmon’s wonderful book Podcasting for Learning in Universities” which has lots of examples on implementation of podcasting in practice. The purpose of this article is to probe a little deeper and look at the primary research on podcasting. It seems to be an area of research about to explode, and it will be interesting to watch how 2010 develops.

The main findings across the series of papers surveyed below are that podcasts are very beneficial to students who view them as useful revision aids. Their flexibility allows them to review materials at their own pace and as many times as they want. However, good principles in podcast design should be considered, so that it stimulates learning, and is not seen as a passive learning resource to supplement/replace lecture/reading material. It has been found that in the main, students access podcasts in dedicated study time, rather than ‘on the go’.

A review of podcasting in higher education: Its influence on the traditional lecture

O. McGarr, Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 2009, 25(3), 309-321: a nice review on the impact of podcasting on the traditional lecture. Some studies of students use of podcasts are described. Students tend to access podcasts during designated study time, and view them predominantly as a review/revision tool rather than replacement. Podcast production should be careful not to reinforce passivity and seek to stimulate learners.

What better way to start a mini-review than with a review! In this case, this is a nice paper by a fellow Irishman, Oliver McGarr at the University of Limerick. He identifies three types of podcasts, those which replay the content of a lecture for review and revision (substitutional), those which provide additional material to aid students’ understanding (supplemental) and those which are student created (creative). The paper reviews whether/how the implementation of podcasts in higher education affects the value of the traditional lecture, considering the value of the podcast itself. A nice analogy is drawn between the rise of the podcast with the mass availability of textbooks in the late 1960’s (Fitzgerald, 1968). There are of course advantages to lectures; the lecturer can provide context, personal experience and expertise and enthuse students, although it is argued that in the main, lectures are passive experiences (Black, 2005). The review summarises a range of studies described in the literature. Some interesting findings are:

  • that students did not listen to podcasts ‘on the go’, preferring instead to listen to them at a computer during designated study time:  a study of 18/39 respondents, Lee and Chan, 2007; a study of 196 business students, 80% listened on a PC, Evans, 2008, 91% of 209/249 journalism students listened during study time, Huntsberger and Stavitsky, 2007;
  • students may use podcasts to replace text reading :40% of the students in the Huntsberger and Stavitsky study, above, used podcasts as a replacement rather than a supplement to textbooks;
  • podcasting seen as predominantly for revision and review rather than replacement: 71% of 1074 Australian students used them as a tool for review and revision, Willams and Fardon 2007; 283 students in science(UK), tended (no number given) to use podcasts for review and revision, Copley, 2007. Copley also mentions the download tines, immediately afer lecture and immediately before exams were peak times, with a steady low-level demand in between. A study of 164/246 US students found that podcasts did not affect student attendance, Bongey, Cizadlo and Kalnbach, 2006.

McGarr then addresses the various themes in his review. Regarding the educational use of podcasts, he sounds a warning about reinforcing the passive nature of lectures, by just having podcasts of a recording of the lecture, or podcasts of summaries of materials, as students may just use these summaries rather than summarise themselves! Using podcasts to provide stimulating supplemental materials may be beneficial. The other end of the spectrum is to allow students to create the podcasts themselves (see project at Dublin Institute of Technology on this concept). This clearly moves students from being passive observers to active creators. Additionally, the notion of m-learning in the sense of learning while doing something else seems to be a myth, based on the above research. Students tended to access the materials during designated study time.

iTunes University and the classroom: Can podcasts replace Professors?

D. McKinney, J. L. Dyck, E. S. Luber, Computers & Education , 2009, 52, 617–623: aims to examine how students would do if they missed a lecture and had to make it up by reviewing a podcast. Found that students who reviewed lecture by podcast performed better in a test, although limited conclusions bounded by the scale and scope of the study are drawn from this.

What a great title. I imagine university professors everywhere uncomfortably shifting in their seats wondering what bronze pea moulds have to do with their profession. This is another paper with a similar theme to that covered in McGarr’s review, above. As academics, can we critically identify what our role is if lecture material is available in other sources than just coming to lectures. The paper summarises a study on two groups of psychology students (poor them, they always seem to be the ones who are subjected to these studies!). One group (32 students) was given a 25 minute lecture with Powerpoint handouts and the second group (34 students) was given a podcast with Powerpoint handouts. One week later, both students took a test, and it was found that students in the podcast group performed significantly better than those in the in-lecture group (t(64) = 2.12, p < .05). (A bead of sweat forms on Prof. McNult’s brow…)

A nice aspect of the study though is that the researchers looked at the quality of the notes taken by each set of students and assigned it to four categories: no notes, minimal notes, average notes, extensive notes. While a large number (12/34) of the podcast group took no notes (compared to 0/32 for in-class), 4/34 of the podcast group took extensive notes, compared to 0/32 for the in-class group. The authors attribute this to the fact that the students were not given any instructions on what to do with the podcasts, but that those who wanted to take extensive notes had the opportunities afforded by playback (22/34 students listened to the podcast more than once). The authors conclude from this small scale study that while podcasts may provide alternatives to students who miss class, and the advantages of podcast playback are useful, the purpose of the study was to examine this either/or scenario (either go to lecture or listen to podcast). They acknowledge this was the subject of much debate among their peers. I think important conclusions on how to produce podcasts that could enhance lectures will be a worthwhile next step in this study. (Prof McNult dabbs his forehead as he enters his lecture hall…)

The effectiveness of m-learning in the form of podcast revision lectures in higher education

C. Evans, Computers & Education, 2008, 50, 491–498: An interesting study teasing out the perceived value students place on podcasts in the spectrum of learning materials available. Students value them more than text books but not significantly more than lecture notes for revision. Access found that students viewed these materials in dedicated study time. Some good grounding here for teachers/lecturers considering podcasts for revision materials.

This post was briefly mentioned in the summary of McGarr’s review, above, but I think it is worth teasing out a little more here. The McKinney paper above looked at podcasts and their role in supplementing a lecture, whereas in this work, Evans particularly concentrates on the aspect of using podcasts for review. 200 first level students were given some revision podcasts in the run up to their examination session, after the course had been completed. I think this is an important study, as it strikes me as a very useful application, and is possibly the first step academics might take in developing podcasts, as they may fear that students won’t come to their lectures if they make them available during lecture time. The results throw up some interesting observations. Although over 70% of the students (based on pilot data) owned an iPod or equivalent, 80% listened to the podcasts on PC’s. A significant majority of the students thought that revising the materials via podcast was quicker than revising from notes, and more effective that revising from textbooks, and that they were more receptive to the materials delivered as podcasts than either revision classes or textbooks, although there was no difference on the effectiveness of podcasts for revision over lecture notes. The results again point to observations that despite the flexibility of podcasts, their use while multi-tasking is not observed. The point about students viewing podcasts as more effective than texts but not than notes is interesting, and to me points to a useful direction in offering a multimedia format of revision tools that may be more engaging and stimulating than a textbook.

Podcasting in higher education: What are the implications for teaching and learning?

S. Lonn, S. D. Teasley, Internet and Higher Education, 2009, 12, 88–92: Large scale study examining the usage and perceptions of students and staff for podcasts. Majority of students accessed materials at their PC, and felt that they were useful for revision/review. Some discrepancies between the responses of instructors and students regarding whether teaching practice actually changed as a result of the podcast.

This paper reports a large scale study on university professors and students in the American mid-west (I wonder where?!). Some interesting findings in the context of the work quoted above are reported. Regarding access, 76% of (879) students said that they accessed the materials on laptop/PC. Their reasons for downloading were to review material after attending class (63%), to make up for a missed class (22), or because they were interested in supplemental material (7%).  While instructors uploaded materials weekly, students tended to download less often, and usually just before quizzes or exams. An interesting point is made regarding the access methods, and that as mobile phone usage to access internet becomes more common place, these devices may be more significant players for students accessing educational materials – at the moment though students predominantly accessed via their PC. The point about what podcasts are actually for is brought up again. Instructors felt that their teaching style had improved because of the podcasts, but students did not. Only one of the 22 instructors said their teaching practice had changed. This really is a crucial issue, and again as academics we have to ask why we are doing podcasts if it is not going to enhance our module delivery? The authors conclude on an optimistic note in this regard; that podcasts may present fundamental topics to allow for more in-class discussion and other innovative teaching methods.

Creative use of podcasting in higher education and its effect on competitive agency

M. Lazzari, Computers & Education, 2009, 52, 27–34: This paper examines the use of podcasts with part-time an full time students in an Italian university. While significant improvements in the performance of part-time students were not observed, there were some improvements in exam results for full time students. Of interest here, some creative ideas for student-driven podcast creation are outlined.

I must confess to being a little confused by the title, but this paper clearly outlines the use of incorporating podcasting into teaching and examines any affect on student learning. I include it also because I think it has been misinterpreted in other literature, often cited as an example of work that demonstrates where podcasting that did not have an effect. While conclusions of the work show that the podcasting implementation did not improve performance of the student group as a whole, the author goes to some lengths to explain some confounding factors that may be attributed to lack of perceived benefit to part time students in the study, centred on a lack of awareness on their part.

A nice aspect of the work is the suggestion of how the podcasts were integrated into teaching. Here is a fine example of teaching methods that really changed with the implementation of podcasts. Students were required to complete a three stage creation of podcasts, involving audio editing to match lecturer questions and provided answers, audio recording tp give their own answers to lecturer questions and creation of knew knowledge to provide summaries of materials not yet covered.

In terms of relative merit of podcasts, textbooks and lecture notes, podcasts and notes were considered more useful in reviewing, whereas textbooks more useful in studying a subject, presumably for the first time. A conclusion regarding the relative merits for revision is vague, as the definition of revision may have confused students – in any case a good point is made about the limited use of a large audio file in final stage revision, where short notes would be favoured.

Quoted references cited by McGarr in his review quoted here are listed here for information:

  • Black, L. (2005). Dialogue in the lecture hall: Teacher-student communication and students’ perceptions of their learning. Qualitative Research Reports in Communication, 6(1), 31-40.
  • Bongey S., Cizadlo, G. & Kalnbach, L. (2006). Explorations in course-casting: Podcasts in higher education. Campus-Wide Information Systems, 23(5), 350-367.
  • Copley, J. (2007). Audio and video podcasts of lectures for campus-based students: Production and evaluation of student use. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 44(4), 387-399.
  • Evans, C. (2008). The effectiveness of m-learning in the form of podcast revision lectures in higher education. Computers & Education, 50, 491-498.
  • Fitzgerald, P. (1968). The lecture: An Arts view. In D. Layton (Ed.), University teaching in transition (pp. 11-17). UK: Robert Cunningham and Sons
  • Huntsberger, M. & Stavitsky, A. (2006). The new “podagogy”: Incorporating podcasting into journalism education. Journalism and Mass Communication Educator, 61(4), 397-410.
  • Lee, M. & Chan, A. (2007). Pervasive, lifestyle-integrated mobile learning for distance learners: An analysis and unexpected results from a podcasting study. Open Learning: The Journal of Open and Distance Learning, 22(3), 201-218

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Book Review: Podcasting for Learning in Universities

Gilly Salmon and Palitha Edirisingha (eds), SRHE/OU Press 2008, reprinted 2009.

I really liked this book, or at least the parts that I read. As with anything by Gilly Salmon (or Gill e-Salmon as I like to write her), it is pragmatic for the practitioner but based in research, without the research being shoved down your throat. She writes the kind of stuff you could give to a colleague who doesn’t care about how their epistemology affects their approach to teaching, so to speak.

Image of book
Image taken from IMPALA website (http://www.le.ac.uk/impala/)

The book is slightly strangely organised. I read it in the order Chapter 1, 15, 2, 4, 3, 5, 6 then glanced through other chapters. Chapter 15 is very useful. The chapters 4 – 14 are reports from lecturers who have implemented podcasting into their practice.

Chapter 1 overviews the book, and is very jolly, as well as being quite inspirational – you can do it! I was a little surprised at the emphasis placed here (and throughout) on audio alone podcasts – do they really work? I’m not sure I could listen to a detailed lecture just on audio. Nevertheless, chapter 4 looked at using such audio podcasts to provide students with pre-knowledge before lectures in introductory physics – in an attempt to iron out those dratted misconceptions. There was some evaluation, which looked a little shaky, but the description o fthe impementation is useful.

Chapter 5 wsa interesting to me, as it detailed the use of podcasts to teach software, something I have spent a lot of time developing over the last few years. The chapter described the irony in the proliferation of paper based materials/books on teaching an essentially dynamic topic; and showed how screen videos could be useful in teaching software to students. Again, the evaluation didn’t show great “enhancement” or whatever, but from my own experience, students support and feedback are as crucial as the notes/videos etc. Again, the chapter was practical wth tips and advice.

The chapters detailed experiences in a range of disciplines including physics (ch 4); GIS (ch 5 – 7); engineering (ch 8); law (ch 9); veterinary med (ch 10) as well as a range of scenarios: on-campus students, distance students, audio, video, feedback, student podcasts.

However, it is Chapter 15 that gets the tradtitional e-Salmon stamp. Here, a clear ten point plan is spelled out, based on the details and experiences discussed in the previous chapters. Number 1, and perhaps often ignored, is the rationale. I thikn Salmon has said elsewhere – does the online environment have added value? If so, use it, if not consider why not and don’t use if so. Then comes practical issues such as the medium, their role (eg in a blended module), the structure, contributors and content, their reusability**, length, framework and access method.

**It was with horror in year 2 of implementing web-videos that I realised I had given specific dates for submission of assignments in the first year in the audio and video, I had to re-record the podcasts again to make them “timeless”

I really recommend this book if you are interested in podcasting, there is a companion book on the mechanics of podcasting, the three copies of which have mysteriously disappeared from our library. There is an associated website http://www.le.ac.uk/impala/

It has inspired me to think about how podcasts might be useful to support my lectures, so that in itself is a good indication of its usefulness.

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