Video-Savvy Learning: 15 Benefits of Podcasting Lectures

October 22nd, 2012 1 Comment Features
Khan academy presentation

Khan Academy uses podcasting to great effect for its students.

Lectures have been a central part of academia for over 800 years.  It is no question that Open Education is forever changing the art of lecturing.  On the Open Culture website you can even find a list of free education podcasts

But why should professors use and create Open Education podcasts? 

  1. Open source Podcasts are a way to preserve academic information.  Lecturing has changed throughout history.  In medieval universities, instructors read from original texts while students took notes making copies of these texts.  Throughout history, the use of handwritten lecture notes became a source of secondary information that was distributed to other academics.  Lectures were a way to preserve valuable discoveries for the next generation.  Podcasts are a digital version of the same idea.  Saving and sharing information for future generations.
  2.  Learning pace can be manipulated.  In my college days, note takers were paid to sell the notes, in case you missed class.  The alternative was going to a special building to request tapes of the lecture, which were difficult to navigate.  Now, taking notes is much easier.  You can rewind, pause or fast forward to easier concepts.
  3.  You can learn about anything in the world.  I am currently reviewing philosophy podcasts from Yale University about Death comparing dualism and Physicalism.  Sound obscure and dark?  Well, podcasts allow students to research very specific, directed questions.  They can explore anything they would like about a subject. It is also a great way to judge which classes students should take, before dedicating time to one in particular.  Advisors might use this resource for students who have undecided majors to explore various interests.
  4.  Grouped together, open source podcasts provide a new type of learning organization.  Groups of podcasts emphasize specific types of knowledge.  A great example is The Berkman Center for Internet & Society Podcast.  MediaBerkman that “features conversations with and talks by leading cyber-scholars, entrepreneurs, activists, and policymakers as they explore topics such as the factors that influence knowledge creation and dissemination in the digital age; . . . the role and limitations of new technologies in learning.”  Taken as a whole, these podcasts are almost like a digital library with an expert community surrounding it.
  5. Stack of books

  6.  Open source podcasts can be used to supplement learning.  With years of teaching experience, professors provide a unique type of teaching reference that is refreshing to watch and peaks your interest into their area of expertise.  They can be used for research projects or to find the consensus of ideas in a particular field. 
  7.  Experts can become part of your classroom.  Arranging a guest lecturer to come to your classroom can be time consuming and difficult.  Now, expert knowledge is available easily.  You can provide a guest lecture from the top academics in a field.
  8.  It preserves oral traditions and the art of speaking.  Lectures are a sort of artistic performance.  The written word is an excellent source of information, but it can be limiting.  Hearing some speak about a topic is a different experience.  Their tone of voice and inflection exudes their passion for a topic.  It is more engaging and intellectually stimulating.  Podcasts preserve the art of speaking.
  9.  Open source podcasts can be used for advocacy.  Academics, like Michael Nielsen, who is passionate about Open Source Scientific Research, use podcasts to spread information.  Nielsen’s hope is to change the thinking of the scientific community.  He aims to make research more open and collaborative.  Open source podcasts can be used to spread information worldwide.
  10.  Open source podcasts are a great way to get students excited about a topic.  They can provide a general or specific understanding of an area geared to your needs.  Podcasts provide a real life view of someone working in the field, who is passionate about it.  They can be used to peak interest. 
  11.  Podcasts create a space for academics to collaborate and discuss learning.  Professors working on similar research areas can watch each other’s lectures for teaching ideas or to find a missing piece of their current views. Commentaries allow the originator to consider further studies or answer student questions.  Podcasts surrounding the original might pop up, allowing exploration of similar, related topics. 
  12.  Academics are sharing lectures for the sake of learning.  Some retired professors, like Dr. Nelson of the University of Kansas made his past lectures available to inspire others.  The professor found it quite gratifying that his lectures were being used by other universities and others for knowledge and enjoyment. 
  13.  Today, podcasting in open education is basically a new type of digital library.  In 2002-2003, many professors began creating podcasts, unaware they would create a new type of media library.  Some professors refused, worried that students might skip class. Today, the wide range of podcasts available has allowed a new type of resource to solidify into a collection of professional resources.
  14.  Allowing backchannel communication.  Backchannel communication is a secondary discussion that occurs during a lecture.  Students might use twitter, chat, or a software tool to post comments during a lecture.  Podcasts can be used to create in class discussions using backchannel communication.  By using a podcast, professors can apply this type of communication to see where students are struggling and use the live lecture to correct misconceptions.  It is like having a lecture embedded in a lecture.
  15.  Podcasts serve as historical artifacts for the academic world.  Imagine if some of science’s most important historical figures, like Galileo had preserved podcasts in a digital library?  Academics may understand their theories, but would have loved the chance to listen to their lectures firsthand. Sure, digital files are available for some historical figures, but podcasts are more complete and better quality.  Podcasts may become a historical account of scientific discoveries.  Or on a larger level, a way to preserve the progression of knowledge in a field. 
  16.  Podcasts enable quicker sharing of discoveries.  Textbooks are invaluable sources of information.  But they are slow to print.  Even digital copies take considerable time to edit and publish.  Open source podcast lectures allow a free-flow of information that creates a valuable academic learning space.  By sharing ideas in a field, greater theories might be discovered or considered.  These podcasts are a great way to share findings or collaborate with colleagues. 

Podcasts are central to open education and online education.  Without them, lecturing to students around the world would not be possible.  In The Lecture as a Transmedial Pedagogical Form:  A historical analysis, Friesen suggests that open source podcasts, TED (Technology Entertainment and Design) talks, and Smart lecture halls will change the form of the lecture in education.  Technology will broaden its parameters.  

With new learning methods emerging, academics have even gone as saying,

“Why aren’t lectures scrapped as a teaching method ?”

 Friesen argues that the survival of the lecture as a primary source of learning depends on adapting broader definitions that include technology. 

“Instead of being replaced or rendered obsolete, the lecture, with its oral roots, is complemented, augmented, and reconfigured through changes in textual technologies.”

 Image by Jurvetson and austinevan


Miriam Clifford holds a Masters in Teaching from City University and a Bachelor in Science from Cornell. She loves research and is passionate about education. She is a foodie and on her time off enjoys cooking and gardening. You can find her @miriamoclifford or Google+.

One Response

  1. Robin says:

    Ummm … never tried podcast before.
    I am more into reading blogs and video tutorials.
    Good advice, i will give podcast a try too.
    Thanks Miriam for the insights.

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