Podcast lectures for uni students I’m a little sceptical of the reasoning; though the article covers a bit more than the video. In the video, a lot is made of the getting your biochemistry alongside your blur. No mention is made in the video of the fact that students can text questions to Dr. Ashraf & he’ll answer via his blog, which is useful. However, as one student pointed out, the first lecture is fun, but what about the rest?

I can see the value of having podcast lectures to supplement face to face lectures – as is being done increasingly ( iLectures in Australia, Stanford in the US). I get the impression from most of these sites that the lectures are podcast and are available to students after the lecture, if they missed them, for revision etc. However, in order to replace them fully, I think that more than just a lecture & texting is needed.

The other thing that concerns me, particularly in the case of Stanford (not seen Dr. Ashraf’s), is the tying to a particular platform. I couldn’t access the Stanford podcasts, even on my PC, as I’ve not installed iTunes – (I don’t like all the “extras” that Quick Time installs, so I use Media Player Classic & relevant codecs to allow me to play just about any media file I want in a single player). The fact that you have to install software to download them, even if you don’t have an iPod, just to listen to them on a PC, would mean that Stanford is closed to all our students – as they can’t install software & iTunes isn’t a part of the standard set up. Which is a shame, as they’re available to all.

The iLectures site, on the other hand, offers a range of formats & levels of quality. So, while they don’t make their lectures freely available as Stanford do, at least their students have a wide range of options for access.

So, my verdict; I’m very unsure of a total replacement – to supplement I think it’s a really good idea. But, make sure that as many students as possible can access them! (I’m not even going to think about asking what hearing impaired students do…)

6 thoughts on “Podcast lectures for uni students

  1. Hi Emma,

    I share your concerns for replacing formal lectures with Podcasts, especially at undergraduate level. I woud question whether many undergraduates have the skills and self-discipline necessary to “listen to virtual lectures in their own time.”


  2. CALI just completed a semester-long project where 30 law faculty podcast their entire course. Some recorded lectures and some created weekly summaries. I am interview/podcasting the participating faculty and posting at http://caliopolis.classcaster.org.

    So far, none of the faculty believe that the classroom can be replaced by the podcast, BUT, they do think that they can adjust their teaching so that the podcast carries the didactic load and frees up time in the classroom for more interaction and discussion.

  3. Thanks for the comments, both.
    I agree with the idea that podcasting could free up time in the classroom for the interaction & discussion; and it’s possible that Dr. Ashraf is planning to do that (we all know that the news doesn’t always report all the details!).
    One of our lecturers has been trying that to an extent; she’s not podcasting materials, but does have them electronically, and students have a 2 hour face to face session to discuss what they (should) have read.

  4. Hi Emma,
    How much should a user/student expect to be able to use their media/application/platform of choice?

    I rather agree that its difficult to find a single ‘universal’ format to deliver media. Many examples of streamed media are formatted in Windows Media formats that are unplayable except through the latest version of Microsoft’s Media Player, and often can only be played in the Windows OS (iTunes does have the benefit that it can be used on two of the three commonly used OSs).

    I too mostly use MPlayer http://www.mplayerhq.hu/ and VLC http://www.videolan.org/vlc/, multiformat/multiplatform/free software. But MS and Apple are aggressive in preventing the reverse engineering of its file formats, which tends to reduces the usefulness of VLC and MPlayer.

    If user freedom to choose (e.g. not to install iTunes/QTime, or to use a Mac) is important, then generic formats and possibly multiple channels to deliver media are unavoidable…

    There is also the issue of DRM (given that Universities will wish to protect and charge for the content of their podcasts if they become mainstream) , which is even more likely to lock users into software systems like iTunes, or the Windows Media Player & Windows OSs.

  5. I don’t see podcasts replacing lectures, just as cinema didn’t replace live theatre, and TV didn’t kill the cinema. Podcasts and lectures have a different range of convenience (anytime, anywhere, individual experience, low ‘cost’ to the listener, chunked by the listener) v (specific time and place, some commitment required from the listener, usually a social/ shared experience). Perhaps just like cinema and live theatre what we may see is podcasting serving a different (perhaps more mundane) purpose, and fewer (hopefully much better) lectures (as well as more time for small groups/individual work).

  6. The podcast seems like a way of addressing different learning styles and flexible accesss to resources; it seems to me that to add value to this technology, turning it in to more than a substitute online community may be developed around audio streams … using the streaam as a stimulus for perhaps deep and considered asynchronous discussion which is not perhaps possible in the synchronous face to face environment.

    It’s good to see emerging uses of technology but the real value for me comes in the creative period which follows, how can this technology be used to really enhance the education experience ..?

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