Sunday, February 28, 2010

Tyler Mathis and Jackie Gorski have brought to you a podcast addressing the question "Can podcasts be useful in the classroom?" This project has involved research guided by our Personal Learning Network avenues. We would like to thank Mr. Mike Fletcher, Mr. William Chamberlain and Mr. Eric Langhorst for their contributions to the success of this project.

We felt that a blog post would be beneficial to fellow teachers, as there is so much relevant information in a variety of places. Since we researched it and found some great stuff, we thought it would only be right to share it. Eric Langhorst said, "If you find something that works, share it with other teachers... We are all on our own for our professional development..." So here it is.

Included, you will find :

- Our project podcast, "Can podcasts be useful in the classroom?"

- Project approach : an example of the value of a PLN

- Interview points from each teacher that could not be included in the podcast

- Relevant links that will help you in creating a podcast

Our approach involved developing a plan which we decided would start with an interview of a local, successful math teacher, Mr. Mike Fletcher. We would then gather information from other established teachers that we have learned of from our class. We began with Mr. William Chamberlain who sent us to Mr. Eric Langhorst. Finally, Mr. Langhorst willingly accepted our request to pick his brain as well. There's that PLN at work!

Mr. Fletcher and Mr. Chamberlain did not create podcasts but shared their experience and opinions about using them. Since Mr. Langhorst did create and use podcasts, our question set was modified and sent to him. Since the project was about podcasts, he appropriately sent his responses in a podcast format. Getting it in that format was great because we learned a lot just working with that .mp3 file. We had to get it out of email, download or listen to it then, organize it into our iTunes, and edit it using Garage Band. Eric shared how he made it and included such valuable information.

The body of our podcast is the edited podcast provided by Eric Langhorst. The input from Mr. Fletcher and Mr. Chamberlain has rounded out this project. It was interesting to see the commonality between the three on their views of podcasts and their use.

Some valuable information that we had gathered, we felt needed to be shared with our class, and others that may be wondering if podcasts can be useful in the classroom.Some highlights that came from the three interviews :

Podcasts could and should be used to get students to the next level of Bloom's Taxonomy (MF and EL)

The podcasts won't be for everyone. Don't expect 100% of your students to use them. EL has approximately 25% of his students access them. Podcasts will only e effective learning tools when the person using them is interested in the subject. (WC/EL/MF)

Test review podcast and short podcast instruction is beneficial to special needs students as they can access the information as many times as they need. (MF/EL/WC)

The time investment is worth the payoff to create them, with about 15 minutes needed to record and 10 minutes to post to the web.

Most students have limited access to the internet (MF/WC).

Bandwidth may be an issue with pod and video casts. Download using iTunes then access from the server.

When you find something that works, share it with other teachers.

Podcasts can be used to share lesson information between teachers. They can also teach teachers.

William Chamberlain's responses to our question set :

1. Do you use podcasts in your classroom? How are they used? I introduced podcasts to my digital media class, but have not used them in regular ed. I do record audio and video which we have put on the blog and have used ipods in the classroom with our reading series for students that need to listen to the audio several times.

2. If you don't use podcasts in your classroom, do you have a vision for future use? I see my students creating vodcasts that we can upload to itunes, but really it is about content delivery for me now. I do listen to podcasts that teach me how to be a better teacher which filters back into the classroom. For now my blog and youtube seem to be enough for my students.

3. Do you have any "do's or don'ts" for future teachers on using podcasts in the classroom? To make teaching more time effective? To make learning more interesting to students? I think podcasts/vodcasts will only be effective learning tools when the person using them is interested in the subject. If the student doesn't care about the material it won't be any more effective than listening to a lecture or watching a video.

4. If you were to use podcasts for supplementing instruction, how likely do you think it would be that your students would access them? Because I am teaching digital tools, most of my students would access my teaching through the class blog. I can't imagine them getting instruction from a podcast to do any learning because they would have to be at a computer which would give them access to the content on my blog or youtube channel.

5. What percentage of your students have access to the internet outside of school? This year it is up to about half of my students. Most have limited exposure at home though.

6. Do afterschool tutoring programs allow students access to the internet? The program we use is not web based, but students can access the internet when necessary.

7. Are you aware of any initiatives within your school or within the school system to bring laptops or other devices to each student for use after school hours that would allow them access to podcasts for the purpose of academics? Good question, this year we opened wifi in my building. We are the only building in our district that has free open wireless. I encourage my students to use it when they have time. Some have brought iTouchs and one is now bringing his laptop. It's a beginning.

8. Do you have any peers who teach math or science that use podcasts as teaching tools? Can you provide their contact information or websites? One or two teachers would be great. Eric Langhorst uses Zunes in his classroom. Here is his website I am sure he will be willing to talk to you about how he uses podcasting in his classroom.

Relevant Links :

Mr. William Chamberlain's Class Blog

Mr. Eric Langhorst's Speaking of History Website
8th grade history teacher

Eric Langhorst's Video and Podcasts on You Tube

Mr. Mike Fletcher's Information
IB and EPIC program math teacher at the high school level

Dan's Math Cast
Great for the math teacher, this site has podcasts and videocasts for math students and teachers alike.

The Lure of Podcasting by Dorothy Burt, Pt. England School Aukland NZ
Dorothy has worked several years with 9 and 10 year olds. They have a lot of experience with creating and using podcasts.

What is podcasting? - The University of Wisconsin Madison ENGAGE
Great site for designing a podcast with tutorials for different softwares.

The Benefits of Podcasting - Harry Bell, McNair Middle
Really great site with teacher and student centered podcast usage and creation.

Making a podcast : Equipment and Software Links

Garage Band


Best regards,

Tyler and Jackie
University of South Alabama
Secondary Education students