In an effort to clear my head (conscience?) about several classes I taught using blogs and podcasts, I have been writing posts about my experiences. The first post on ProfHacker addressed some of the things I could have done better when assigning podcasts. The second post, on our Academic Technology blog, deals with some mistakes I made while running a classroom blog. However, these previous posts only cover my thoughts about using these different assignment formats. What did the students think?
To help me get a handle on the technology we were using in each class, I had asked students to fill out a separate technology evaluation in addition to their standard course evaluations (the questions I asked are listed at the end of this post). The questions covered blogging, podcasting, and a general question about the use of technology in the course. Overall, the students seemed happy with podcasting (I will cover their responses about blogging in a future post). Of the students’ responses about podcasts, most students expressed these two ideas:
Don’t Start with Individual Projects
In one of my classes I placed students in groups to do their podcasts. In the other, I assigned the podcasts as individual assignments. The evaluations came back from these classes suggesting that students would be more comfortable if we had progressed from producing a podcast as a class, to small groups, and ended with individual podcasts. This way, we could troubleshoot some of the problems together, but still allow for a fair amount of autonomy in the end. This sounds reasonable to me and I would most likely do something like this in the future.
Podcasting Is Fun, But…
I was surprised to see that a number of students called podcasting “fun.” I had hoped that the assignment would be enjoyable in some way, but I didn’t expect to see this on the evaluations. Some students thought it was more interesting and engaging than a traditional paper because they could include different media in their projects. Others had a much lower bar — it was at least better than having a midterm exam. However, several things tempered their enjoyment of producing podcasts. First, some students did not like how they were forced to share their work with their peers. Second, many students found the technical aspects of production to be a pain. Others said it wasn’t fun, but it could have been if we had used the medium in a more interesting way — such as for recording interviews.
Overall, I am still undecided about the benefits of podcasting in the classroom. Some students liked it, others didn’t, and I am guessing that this would be the case with any assignment. On a purely personal level, I think that doing a podcast as a class, or at least including more collaboration in the assignment, would be more fun for me and probably lead to better class discussions. Unfortunately, the question remains, would it be better for the students?
Resources: Technology Evaluation
These are the questions I ask on my Technology Evaluations. Are there other questions we could add to this? Do you know of better ways to ask the same questions? If so, post a comment!
- Do you feel that you had enough support and/or instruction in how to use the technology used in the course? If no, please explain how your experience could have been improved. If yes, what did you find most helpful?
- How well did you feel the class blog was integrated into this course?
- Do you have any suggestions about it could be better utilized?
- Did you read the posts by your classmates?
- Think about previous classes that you have taken that have used Blackboard. Did your experience with this class blog differ at all? Was it better or worse? Please explain your answer.
- Would you like to use blogs in the future, either inside or outside the classroom? Please explain why or why not.
- Did you enjoy creating podcasts in an academic environment? Why or why not?
- How did podcasting compare to written assignments you have done in other classes? In your opinion, what are some of the benefits and drawbacks?
- Would you like produce your own podcasts or other media projects in the future? Please explain why or why not.
- If you have any other thoughts about using technology in the classroom, please use this space to express them.
[Image from the State Library of Queensland, Australia via Flickr Commons]