Sunday, August 06, 2006

Inventing Best Practices for Podcasting

After listening to various academic podcasts and finding no best practices for podcast pedagogy (yes, I found tips re: the technical specs, but I've been looking for recommendations for using podcasts for their distinctive pedagogical advantages, not just as recordings of lectures).

What I found was recordings of lectures. I'm sure I'll find wonderful podcasts by rhet/comp colleagues sometime soon.

Meanwhile, I'll invent some hypothetical best practices (in the absence of having practiced them). And I'll concentrate on the kind of pedagogical work I want this tool to help me do.

Using podcasts to sustain community during an instructor's extended absence

  • Reinforce the course theme and current unit during the podcast, ideally responding to a recent set of student postings, emails, or discussion (for continuity of course conversations)

  • Make one meaningful connection between the instructor's trip and the course content (e.g., find an artifact or event that can contribute to/extend the ongoing work of the course)

  • Keep the podcast short (5 minutes?)

  • Publish a relevant image to accompany the podcast (consider including video)

  • Remember the podcast is not a substitute for a reasonable quantity of online/email contact with the students during the f2f absence

  • Keep the podcast goal modest: don't over-commit to students or to yourself; rather, plan to make one or two podcasts--ideally one that can be completed and uploaded before the trip--to ensure follow-through.

  • Usability test the podcast with multiple devices and with a printed version (for those w/out portable MP3 players)

Using podcasts to mentor student field work (in this case, the analysis of artifacts in public spaces)

  • "Rehearse" the observation (Go to the site and record notes about the students' likely paths to and around the artifact(s), and so forth)

  • Compose a script that reinforces the terminology, methods, and motives of the field observation

  • Don't over-script the experience; allow time and space for the students' spontaneous responses to the artifacts

  • Keep the script simple, but not overly checklist-y (otherwise, some may print the script as merely a fill-in-the-blank tool)

  • Include a prompt for synthesis in the script to again guide the students to make the observation a cumulative process rather than one that can be delegated as task modules to team members--in other words, craft a script that encourages discussion with classmates/teammates for its completion.

  • Usability test the podcast with multiple devices and with a printed version (for those w/out portable MP3 players)

That's a preliminary list.

And I think it's two podcasts: the field research would be my test-run with the technology and the other more of an audio-postcard or field report of my own. Of course the challenge of making it a field report is that I'll need to be fairly confident of producing and uploading it in the midst of a fairly rigorous lecturing schedule overseas. Hm.

Time to walk a dog and ponder all this.


Anonymous Randy Meredith said...

Thanks for providing great food for thought. I've been pondering a related issue -- an pedagogcially effective design for instructional podcasts.

I really appreciate the emphasis you give to using the podcast as a community builder, and the idea of podcast best practices is intriguing.

6:37 AM  
Blogger 2blackdogz said...

Thanks, Randy. And I so appreciated visiting your podagogy site. If you had a dog I'd blogroll you ;-)

7:30 PM  

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