On Tuesday I gave a brief talk called “iTeach, iLearn: Student Podcasting” [abstract] which described my experience assigning student podcasts as the major form of assessment in my iGeneration unit last year. It was pitched to a generalist audience and thus covers what is a podcast and the sort of thing, but the latter half describes the student podcasting experience, their feedback and what I see as the major pedagogical benefits. I’ve uploaded an mp3 of the audio [downloadable in various formats on this page] [direct link to MP3] and the powerpoint slides [here], so feel free to download them and listen along.
The most important point, I think, was the Pedagogical Benefits of Student Podcasting and I’ll quickly run through them again here for those who don’t have time to listen to my podcast presentation…
 Turning the Digital Podium Around – As ‘coursecasting’ becomes more and more prominent, podcasting becomes the realm of the lecture. The lecture format, for all its benefits, is still one of the least interactive, least engaging education experiences. However, with student podcasts, the digital lecturn or podium becomes a realm where they can participate on fairly equal terms – student podcasts can arrive via the same RSS streams, in the same formats, allowing students to, in effect, take their place at the digital podium. This can serve to equalise the Teaching and Learning experience, giving students a powerful voice that acts in a similar way to educators. Teaching and Learning thus convergence in a meaningful way, making more confident students who are used to creating material for public consumption.
 Creating Media = Heightened Critical Awareness of Media – As we all know, the best way to get someone to learn a thing is for them to do that thing. Podcasting is a form of media production and participating in the production process increases a critical awareness of the stages of media production (albeit on a small scale) and organically leads to a heightened critical awareness of media, something integral to media literacy in the information age.
 Podcasts are Cultural Artefacts - Creating a podcast means that students have created a tangible media and cultural product that can have utility far beyond the immediate course context. For example, the PodPlay and Alternative Simpsons DVD Commentary created by students in the iGeneration course are useful as media in their own terms, as examples of podcasts, and are a great listen for a more general audience. Moreover, in an era where ePortfolios are of increasing importance, as well as course and university profiles, student podcasts are of immediate value to students as portfolio items, of value to the course as evidence of excellent student outcomes and products, and (at least if they’re good, which I think all of the iGeneration podcasts were), they’re useful as promotion material for universities en masse, showcasing their output by students.
 Podcasting is Relatively Easy – Producing media is something students love doing, but the time and effort needed to get students media-savvy enough to produce, for example, videos is quite demanding, especially outside of media-specific courses. However, using Audacity (a free, open source, audio editing program) and their own microphones, students can learning everything needed to record and edit basic audio in a a one or, at most, two hour workshop. Podcasting is thus something that students can do in all sorts of courses without eating up too much course time to provide the generic skills needed. (And those generic skills can be built upon in many, many other contexts…)
So, those are my thoughts. The benefits of podcasting by students is broad in pedagogical terms, and I hope to see more and more student-created podcasts as parts of university courses in the future (secondary and primary schools are already embracing these ideas, but not many universities are as quick off the mark!). Also, do others have other benefits in mind that I could add to the list?
Finally, a request to the edublogosphere: I’d like to sync the slides to the audio BUT I’m working on a PC and the moment and thus most of the tools I know of are of no use as they’re Mac-based. Can anyone recommend a fairly straight-forward way of combining the slides and audio using Windows-based software?