2006 Campus Technology Innovators: Podcasting

2006 Campus Technology Innovators

TECHNOLOGY AREA: PODCASTING
Innovator: Marist College

 


 

2006 CT Innovators: Marist College

MARIST COLLEGE puts iPOD content in the hands of students.

Challenge Met

Although educational podcasting is quickly spreading across colleges and universities as a great way for students to consume relevant content almost anywhere, Marist College (NY) is turning that model on its ear. Rather than replicating a traditional lecture format by loading students up with pre-recorded podcasts, Marist is forging a more constructivist approach in which the students themselves generate and share their own content.

It all started when Marist students studying abroad began inquiring about taking online courses while overseas, in order to meet general education requirements that the host institution was unable to provide. Not wanting to defeat the purpose of going abroad in the first place, a remarkable collaboration among faculty, administration, the Office of Academic Technology, and the college’s Media Center sought to offer the students an alternative—a “Quest” learning model—that would deepen the study-abroad experience and not allow students to rely on the “crutch” of their home institution’s eLearning resources.

“Podcasting is usually thought of as a teacher-centered activity in which the teacher sends lectures to the students,” explains Kevin Gaugler, associate professor of modern languages and assistant dean of the School of Liberal Arts at Marist.“Our project is leveraging the collective intelligence of the students…combining cutting-edge, taskedbased pedagogical approaches with an approach to podcasting sometimes known as social podcasting or group podcasting.” This model offers both the convenience of learning online and the richness of an on-the-ground study-abroad experience.

How They Did It

A large team contributed to the pedagogical and technological design of the project. Among them, Gaugler designed the Quest learning model and provided leadership on the use of iPods and podcasting abroad. Meg Franklin, assistant dean of academic affairs and professional lecturer of English, contributed much of the theoretical framework to make the first Quest offering, iDentity Quest, a class on the components of national and regional identities. And staff and student workers from the Office of Academic Technology and eLearning, directed by Josh Baron, created a web-based form that updated an RSS feed so that any student in the course could add to the feed without knowledge of XML.

The team wanted to make the technology as transparent as possible and selected Apple’s iPod Photo, one of the only devices that could both record and receive podcasts. Griffin Technology’s iTalk was needed to add recording capabilities—and the company generously donated 20 units for the pilot. Audacity (audacity.sourceforge.net) was a natural choice for audio editing due to its ease of use and its GNU General Public License.

The Office of Academic Technology and eLearning created a course “shell” or website in the college’s course management system called Educator (Ucompass technology), for use in the iDentity Quest project. The course environment was configured to support uploading of MP3 files directly by students in an easy-to-follow process. This online environment also supported the interactions between faculty and students and among students themselves via use of online discussion forums, e-mail, and chat.

Next Steps

Marist is in the process of testing an open source set of PHP scripts dubbed Podcast Generator, with which the school hopes to be able to scale the project over the coming semesters. There is also preliminary discussion of working to integrate these capabilities into the Sakai Collaborative Learning Environment that is in the early testing stage at the college.

Advice

Baron offers a word of caution to those who would send technology-toting students abroad: “Students need to be trained carefully before they leave their home institution in order to ensure they have mastered the technical skills to complete projects. Working closely with your media center will help enormously to address these challenges.”

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