M-Learning (Thesis Volume 2.7: Review of the Literature)

In the Era of Technology, when every person has access to the Internet, multimedia in the classroom has transformed from the traditional educational television stations and video tapes to interactive learning websites and instructional podcasts.  “Internet resources are offering multimedia communications as a way to bring history, literature, science, and other topics alive for visitors” (Lamb & Johnson 2007).  A podcast is a media file, either audio or video file, distributed over the Internet for playback on personal computers and portable media players.  The word podcast comes from combining iPod, trademarked by Apple, and broadcasting.  Since 2001 podcasts have been developed played on mp3 and mp4 players, computers, and now televisions with the aide of Apple T.V.  “Between September 28, 2004 and September 28, 2005 the number of web pages found by the Google search engine containing the term ‘podcasts’ increased from 24 hits to more than 100 million.  Consequently, the New Oxford American Dictionary chose ‘podcasting’ as its Word of the Year for 2005” (Copley, 2007).  According to Lamb and Johnson (2007) podcasters provide a variety of programming formats and content.

  1. Collaborative projects include those podcasts that have an interactive component.  Some websites invite listeners to participate in local and global projects.
  2. Current events are accessible by most news sources that are now producing podcasts, such as CNN.
  3. Many government documents have been translated into podcasts to provide students a different format to learn and understand well-known documents such as the Declaration of Independence.
  4. Interviews of experts in content area fields are also accessible via podcasts.  These podcasts can reinforce concepts, provide personal examples, and generate interest in current events.
  5. Controversial issues are also accessible via podcasts.  They can provide unique perspectives and thought-provoking discussions.
  6. Podcasts can also be created for language lessons and how-to projects specifically designed for instruction.
  7. Critical reviews of books, television, movies, and games are also accessible via podcasts.
  8. Podcasts can also be produced to provide virtual tours of museums and zoos.

For educational purposes, podcast integration can be developed in one of two ways; either teacher or SME produced podcasts designed to enhance classroom lectures, or student produced podcasts to demonstrate and assess students’ academic growth.  One scenario of podcast integration into higher education is as follows:

A physical education teacher directs her students to the class web site.  The web site contains a link to an audio file that the students can download and listen to at their leisure.  The teacher instructs her students to listen to the file in preparation for their next class.  The file contains information about the reduction of heart disease risk from increased physical activity.  The file concludes by asking the students questions that they should be able to answer after listening to the recording.  The next day, students arrive in class and immediately begin to engage in a discussion about the audio file and its contents.  The teacher was able to use minimal class time to instruct students on the topic to review information and to assess students’ assimilation of the content.  She was immediately free to move into higher-order teaching strategies and content applications (Mikat, Martinez, Jorstad, 2007).

In the higher level education, some universities are embracing the new technology to the point that they are distributing iPods to college students as a part of enrollment.  Drexel University’s School of Education distributed free iPods to their students in hopes to spark innovative uses of the technology.  Professors will record and post lectures online for students to download; students will record study-group sessions and interviews using microphone attachments handed out with the iPods (Read, 2005).  The Drexel program was modeled from the original Duke Giveaway program which passed out iPods to all incoming freshman in 2004.  Podcasts have been so popular in the higher education platform that Apple responded by launching iTunes U in 2006, a platform for universities to upload and access podcast resources of classes.  Although using podcasts is becoming a much wider accepted practice in higher education, K – 12 schools have shown more reluctance.  However, K – 12 schools have been exploring the process of integrating the production of podcasts into classroom curriculum as a motivation and assessment tool.

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