March 7, 2007
UDC Study of “Podcasting” in Higher Education Shows
Continued Rapid Expansion
Washington, DC – The use of podcasting in higher education continues a remarkable growth since a handful of professors pioneered its uses in 2005. In August 2005, Dr. Suzan Harkness, Assistant Professor of Political Science in the Department of Urban Affairs, Social Sciences, and Social Work, launched the University of the District of Columbia’s first podcast, joining only a handful of professors worldwide to use the emerging media to promote learning. Since then, Dr. Harkness has created additional podcasts and has just completed the first nation-wide survey of podcast use in higher education. The results are promising.
To assess podcast use in higher education, Dr. Harkness has initiated a survey which samples podcast use in a sample of 112 institutions across the United States. The results find that a wide array of institutions and disciplines use podcasting to facilitate learning. Public, private, research, teaching, and community colleges all have jumped into podcasting since 2005. The survey, which will be released in a paper delivered at the Midwest Political Science Association’s annual national conference in Chicago on April 13, 2007, finds that podcasting is more prevalent on campuses in the East and the Midwest, but shows that no program or discipline hold exclusive domain in podcast use. In fact, podcasting is found in a wide variety of disciplines, including political science, chemistry, biology, health, foreign language, astronomy, physics, communication, English, psychology, film & television production, history, humanities, finance, library and learning resource sciences, engineering, law, medicine, dentistry, veterinary science, and nursing.
Dr. Harkness found the results not at all surprising. “The findings supported my hypothesis, serious students come to class to learn and to engage in the construction of knowledge,” said Dr. Harkness. “If learning takes place in the classroom and is meaningful, the students come. Podcasting is just another tool to facilitate the learning and to engage the student.”
Both female and male professors have embraced the emerging media to near parity, meaning that there appears to be no significant gender difference in who produces educational podcasts. Most podcasts produced in academia are reportedly for class use and contain lecture or other course content or guest lectures (66%). Thirty-nine percent of podcasts run 20 minutes or less, 19% run between 21-40 minutes, and 42% are longer than 41 minutes. Only 10% report that podcasts are produced for institutional self-promotion, recruitment, or advertising.Survey results also indicate that faculty are not the only ones producing podcasts. Responses to the study indicated that professors sometimes required students to produce podcasts. The respondents said that students produced 15 % of podcasts. Podcasting keeps students excited and engaged in the learning process; it provides hands-on experiential learning opportunities. Moreover, it has had little impact upon class attendance. In fact, 77% of respondents to the survey report no drop in class attendance; only 5% report a drop in attendance, while 17% do not know whether it has affected attendance rates.
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