Podcasting at Kent State

Daniel Bott

University professors are being encouraged to utilize iPods in the classroom

Computers weren’t invented to aid in education, but they are now an integral part it.

In the future, educators will look at podcasting in the same way, David Dalton said.

Dalton, executive director of the Educational Technology Division of Information Services, said the world of podcasting is beginning to open up and people do not have a sense yet of how big it will be.

Dalton, who owns an iPod with an extra amplifier “to go deaf faster,” said once it becomes a huge social phenomenon, it will be become easier to make it an educational tool.

“People need to broaden their perspective a little bit and see this impending communications revolution,” he said. “Education wasn’t the reason people invented computers, but once we had computers we found ways of using them to make education interesting.”

Tom McNeal, project director for the Research Center for Education Technologies, said the center wanted to find a way to involve teachers and students in a technology which they could use in their classroom and at home.

“There are a lot of different kinds of technologies, but most of them you need to buy new equipment, have a high speed Internet connection or something like that, and that requires money,” McNeal said. “We wanted something that would be a little less expensive for students.”

The Research Center for Educational Technologies decided to look into podcasting to see if it was economically feasible.

“I found out that all the tools that are needed to make podcasts are all ready available here on campus and are available in most schools,” McNeal said.

To make a podcast, he said all a lecturer really needs is a recording device and some software to digitize the recordings. This software is often free or inexpensive.

McNeal has been holding workshops showing teachers how to make podcasts and showing how this can supplement student learning.

McNeal has been telling lecturers to make an audio podcast they need to record the audio, and then digitize it using software like Audacity, which is free and works on Mac and Windows, to convert the file to MP3 format.

To make a video podcast, they need to record the video, and then digitize it using software like QuickTime Pro, which is $30 and works on Mac and Windows, to convert the file to MP4 format.

A visit to the iTunes Web site shows there are Kent State lecturers already on iTunes, where students can subscribe to a lecturers podcast.

“If you download iTunes to your computer, another free program, you can subscribe to a professor’s podcast,” McNeal said. “Every time they add something new to their Web site it will automatically update their iTunes account, which automatically adds it to your iPod.”

He said he believes that audio and/or video podcasts would supplement learning rather than replace the classroom learning experience.

Rhonda Richardson, associate professor for family and consumer studies, is not using podcasting at present, but was keen to start.

“I think it has some potential to supplement what I do in the class room” she said.

However, Richardson said she saw potential for recordings of lectures causing problems with attendance in class rooms, but saw this as more of an issue for students in lower division classes.

Kent State alumnus Eduardo Herrera said some freshmen and sophomores could be in danger of abusing the program. He also said many seniors in his program who had a heavy workload had been known to skip class occasionally, too.

Herrera said podcasting would have advantages, whereby students could reaffirm what was said in a lecture or get information they may have missed.

Bethany Kachler, freshman education major, said she saw advantages of lecturers making podcasts.

“I’d like it because I work out and I could work out and listen to my lectures at the same time.”

Contact technology and information services reporter Daniel Bott at [email protected].