Podcasts Integrating Technology in the Classroom

Kim Brassard, Ann Forrestal, Christian Gray, Jennifer Gurley, James Hiatt, Martha Hill

Podcasts: A Systematic Tool for Technology Integration

  • Interactive Tool: The use of Podcasts for vocabulary acquisition in the study of a 5th grade classroom provided an interactive medium that allowed students the opportunity to demonstrate responsibility and independence for their own learning.
  • Class Accessibility: Students were able to access Podcasts at school in their computer lab and in the classroom. Students utilized various devices for Podcast integration: computers, tablets, IPods, and personal phones. Limitations could be seen in schools that have limited resources for devices.
  • Future Implications: Teacher created Podcasts allowed students to learn from multiple sources and at their own pace. This opportunity for active learning can lead to the use of other social media applications, such as Twitter and YouTube for student interaction.

A Brief Overview of: The ATOMS Family: Using Podcasts to Develop the Enhancement of Science Vocabulary

Subjects: The subjects in this study were primarily middle to upper middle-class fifth-grade students. There were a total of 58 students chosen randomly from 3 science classes.

Variables: In order to minimize variables, the researchers chose to offer the podcast to approximately half of the students in the each of the three science classes. This allowed all of the students to receive the same classroom instruction and thus made the podcast the only variable.

Research Question: Will the use of podcasts as a delivery method for vocabulary increase achievement and retention of instructional material?

Positive Impact of Podcasts

Assessment Scores: Using ANCOVA researchers found that scores for students using the Podcasts were significantly greater than students who did not have access to the Podcasts.

Student Motivation: Students with access to the Podcasts unanimously believed the Podcasts made them more motivated to learn science vocabulary. 76% of students claimed the Podcasts made science vocabulary more interesting.

Future Implications: Teachers can utilize Podcasts for multiple exposure to vocabulary outside of the classroom, thus the ease of use and portability of devices for Podcasts can enhance instruction for retention of future instruction.

Factors That Impact Teacher Implications of Podcasts

  • Expert Collaboration: Teachers can utilize experts and creative personnel to produce interesting and fun resources that will engage students in instructional material for the learning unit. This material can be in a video form, as well as audio.
  • Parent Involvement: Parents could utilize the Podcasts to assist their child with gaining responsibility and initiative in their own educational goals and expectations. This promotes the essence of communication between instructors and parents for their student’s growth.
  • Student Motivation: The uniqueness and informality of the Podcasts allowed students to interact confidently with the instruction, and will eventually lead to ownership by the students to create their own versions of instructional Podcasts.

A Well Defined Research Study

Vocabulary acquisition is important to understanding of unit standards and expectations.

Students utilize familiar technological devices to listen to the Podcast at their convenience and outside an instructional venue.

Students showed a gain in the retention of the vocabulary due to the unique and engaging Podcasts that allowed for independence and student initiative.

Teachers create an engaging Podcast that uses popular music and rhyming for vocabulary understanding.

Students are assessed on the vocabulary of the unit’s material to see if they retained understanding and usage of the vocabulary.

A Flawed Study

The article concluded that there was a statistically significant Improvement in achievement with students who used the podcast. The author does acknowledge that the gain in achievement could be attributed to students spending more time on task and being more Interactive with the material.

Clark stated that, most of the methods carried by newer media can also be carried or performed by teachers (Clark, 1983, p 456). While the podcasts may have been more convenient and allow for more time on task, there was nothing unique in the delivery of the material.

The study was completed with a small group and within a short amount of time. The study made efforts to ensure all other variables were held constant. Per Clark (Clark, 1983, p 450) the increased attention paid by students sometimes results in increased effort or persistence, which yields achievement gains. The shortened time frame may mean then benefits may diminish as students become more familiar with the new medium. The novelty effect may have skewed the results.

The research question does not need to be changed, however the study should have been conducted over a longer period of time with a larger group or a more diverse group with varying demographics or learning abilities.

The Research Question

Will the use of podcasts as a delivery method for vocabulary increase achievement and retention of instructional material?

Clark, R.E. (1983). Reconsidering research on learning from media. Review of Educational Research, 53(4), 445-449.


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