Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Podcasting And Vodcasting In Higher Education: How Disruptive Will They Be?

Although Podcasting and, more recently, Vodcasting (or video-casting) have taken the online world by storm, with geeks and their like adopting these new RSS 2.0-based digital content broadcasting and distribution technologies with huge enthusiasm, their impact outside of geek-dom has, so far, been quite limited.

Empty Classroom.jpgPhoto credit: Pilost

However, in a recent white paper (PDF) published by Peter Meng, a Technical Business Analyst at the University of Missouri, the potential impact and application of these technologies in the world of education is analyzed in a clearly written and thorough manner.

The white paper, entitled "Podcasting & Vodcasting - Definitions, Discussions & Implications" and published in March 2005, provides a non-geeky description of how these technologies work, the software and hardware required, the potential applications within a higher education context and the implications on an educational organization's IT infrastructure that may result from potential wide-spread adoption among teachers and students.



How to Podcast.jpg

The author also provides a useful set of online articles and Web sites at the end of the document for further reading, although, as Peter Meng states, "The resource list will be seriously dated before this document is distributed for the first time. The number of portals, Web sites, blogs, and vlogs that are providing podcast and vodcast services is literally changing by the hour."

How to Vodcast.jpg

Here are the key highlights of the paper relating to both potential educational applications and possible associated issues and implications:


  • Recordings of lectures for those students unable to attend the lecture in person.

  • Audio recordings of textbook text, made available for students by the chapter, would allow students to "read" or review texts while walking or driving to class. It could also be a significant aid to auditory learners.

  • Students could record and post project audio and video interviews which could be automatically downloaded to an instructors laptop or MP3 player for review.

  • The same could be done for language lessons where students forward audio of their pronunciation dialogues. They could even swap these with peers for peer review before turning in the final form to the instructor.

  • Oral reports recorded and archived.

  • Musical resumes. Music critique.

  • Libraries of bird sounds that the budding ornithologist could receive via seasonal subscription and take with them to the field.

  • Downloadable library of high resolution heart sounds for medical students.

  • Issues and Implications:

  • How does podcasting or vodcasting challenge the current "talking head" model of classroom lectures ? If all lectures are available via video and audio, do students need to go to class? How often? Why? How can they be kept in class?

  • Who owns the content, the school, the instructor, the user? Can this content be used outside of the university community? How is it protected or secured to the owner or subscriber?

  • Who's going to edit the content? What are the guidelines for editing? What's real - what's not?

  • How is copyrighted material tracked and/or verified?

  • Can money be made from this?

  • In conclusion, the Paper states:

    "Podcasting and vodcasting, and their pending derivatives, are not fads. They are very real and very practical distribution technologies. The ability to time-shift content versus traditional broadcast distribution models expands student teaching and learning opportunities significantly. The supporting technologies are relatively inexpensive and surprisingly easy to use - in fact easy enough to use that faculty and students will begin to actively produce and distribute content through this medium by summer semester 2005.

    The rapid evolution of audio-photo-video recording capabilities through phones and inexpensive hand-held devices will create a flood of multimedia content. They will be immediately adopted by the current class of students and will be looked at with disinterest or uncertainty by many of the current faculty. Both distribution technologies will quickly create demand for more bandwidth and storage for that content, both for academic purposes and student social activities.

    They will intensify the need for a centralized content management and monetization infrastructure, as well as an education support architecture to assist faculty in the integration of these technologies that will be demanded
    by the incoming class of students.

    But in this challenge is also the opportunity to provide all new classes of services for on-campus, distance and lifelong learners. In fact the greatest opportunities for these technologies are in the ways they will be used that have not been imagined yet. The portable and on-demand nature of podcasting and vodcasting make them technologies worth pursuing, implementing and supporting."

    As these new digital content distribution technologies become increasingly mainstream, a multitude of potential applications will become apparent and, in many instances, will be hugely disruptive to existing learning infrastructures.

    Who will adapt and thrive - and who won't?

    Peter Meng - [ Read more ]
    Readers' Comments    
    2005-04-21 23:23:48

    dave davison

    the University of Missouri White Paper is a very useful and well thought out contribution to the understanding of POD/VOD- casting, not only for academia, but business, government and civil society as well.

    Thanks Robin/Francis

    2005-04-18 19:16:52

    Richard Treves

    It is a fool who steps up to predict how important an emerging technology will be, history is littered with those who foretold that we would never reach the moon, that the jet engine would never work and that C5s would take over the world.

    However, I do think that pod/vodcasting will not be a disruptive technology in education. My prediction is based on experience at the UK Open University. When this wonderful organisation was launched in 69 it was hailed as the 'University of the airwaves'. Instead of lectures students would watch TV programs and listen to radio broadcasting and this would be their education. It didn't work, the OU soon learnt that printed content, phone calls and tutorials still had their place. It is to their credit that they learnt this fast and produced a very sucessful model of distance learning.

    More recently in 2000 there were fresh predictions that the 'disruptive technology' of forums and html pages would replace the print/TV/tutorial OU system. Again, it didn't happen. The OU has again realised that the best distance learning model mixes many media so now its courses mostly mix web/forums/print/TV and tutorials.

    My best guess is that pod and vodcasting will make an impact on education but they will not wholly replace anything, at least not in the near future. Now, where did I park my C5 :)

    posted by on Saturday, April 16 2005, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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