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Join The Podcasting Craze!

Podcasting is a “craze” that college professors can use to “appeal to tech-savvy students with a shrinking attention span”.

At least that the very narrow view of the concept taken by one Boston Globe writer.

This particular story revolves around experiments at several Boston-area universities to produce podcasts of class lectures for students to download.

Of course, there are the usual folks who don’t get the idea that there is great power in giving students some control over their own learning.

“If the purpose of what you are doing is to give them some information quickly, then podcasts are great,” said Donna Qualters, director of The Center for Effective University Teaching at Northeastern University, an education resource program. “My fear is that podcasts are going to replace the lecture. And then, of course, kids are not going to go to class, and they will miss the benefits of that.”

And who miss the point that, if students are not going to class, it’s possible there’s nothing in class worth going to.

However, there are a few with an inkling of the benefits that podcasting could offer to educators but who’s view is still too limited.

“This is a technology academia has fallen in love with, without any idea of how it works,” said Stephen Laster, a professor of problem-solving and software design at Babson College.

Laster, who also trains other professors on creating podcasts, said podcasting is only helpful if the files contain information that would not be available in class, such as a law professor recording background information on a historic decision before a discussion of the case in class.

Podcasting is not just about time shifting, not just about supplementary information, not just about a creative outlet for students.

It is, or could be, all of this. Plus other uses we haven’t considered yet.

The podcasting buzz is starting to get pretty loud around our school system. It will be interesting to see how that plays out when we start up again next month.

podcasting, education, college


  1. John Mayer

    I just gave a talk on this very topic at the American Association of Law Libraries in St. Louis. Here is the link to the podcast (called “Invasion of the podcast people”)


    Here is a screencast version of my portion of the talk…


    We conducted a project last spring with 30 faculty who recorded their classroom lectures and/or created weekly summary podcasts for their students.

  2. Andrew Pass

    The problem at many universities is that professors don’t know how to teach large “lecture” classes without lecturing. My teaching strategy has always been to include students in interactive projects and discussions. Even if a single lecture hall has to be broken up into numerous discussions without discussion leaders, the groups can be asked questions and expected to report back to the entire group. As students are reporting back the professor could interject key ideas and innovative thoughts. Truly, with podcasts there is very little reason that there has to be much lecture at all, anymore.

    Andrew Pass

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