Educators Rely More on Digital Audio for Sharing Lectures and Educational Materials

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By Vittorio Hernandez | June 24, 2014 1:30 PM EST

More educators are shifting online as new technologies make the use of blended textbooks and embedded audio and video in learning more possible.


Education Secretary Michael Gove (Reuters)

Tablet PCs and mobile technologies are giving rise to a new generation of students who want immediate access to information, are always interacting with their peers online, have a knack for multitasking and have a voracious appetite for new media.

These educators know they have to adapt to engage their students, and most are turning to online video and audio streaming services to achieve exactly that.

Audio, in particular, was seen by educators as a highly efficient medium to educate and engage students.

"Audio ... demonstrated a capacity to facilitate authentic engagement, allowing students to connect in various ways to the outside world, both as listeners and publishers," stated the JISC Digital Media website, quoting a research paper titled Beyond Podcasting: 'Creative approaches to Designing Educational Audio.'

"The ease and speed with which digital audio can be deployed was used to support timely interventions and in some cases promoted information currency and responsiveness."

To facilitate teaching and learning effectively, JISC Digital Media recommends audio clips to be "short and concise" as possible. It noted a finding by Open University that "shorter podcasts help students to engage more often and less formally - just how they listen to their music."

Podcasts and audio recording platforms that are commonly used in the UK include Spotify, Audioboo and Soundcloud. Audioboo, a digital audio streaming platform launched by London-based Audioboom Group PLC (BOOM.L) is particularly popular in the British Isles.

Audioboo is quite popular as well in the opposite side of the Atlantic. Matt Bergman, a teacher at Pennsylvania-based Milton Hershey School, and owner of the Learn-Lead-Grow blog, uses Audioboo in conjunction with Edmodo, a collaboration tool and social media platform for students and teachers.

Bergman shares that he uses Audioboo to pre-select audio clips that will be accessible to students for learning while preventing them from "accessing unwanted content" that may distract them; and to allow students to verbally respond to assignments and "share their ideas without the barrier of text," among many.

Audioboo is also increasingly being used by educators, not just to upload learning clips and information, but to leave students nuggets of wisdom as well.

According to a report on the South Wales Evening Post, Welsh head teacher John Kendal of the Risca Community Comprehensive School used Audioboo to record a message, encouraging GCSE students to "dig deep" and to "don't give up" on their GSCE exams.

"Even if you have got one bit wrong, it might only be worth 20 per cent of the mark, and the other 80 per cent might be right," Kendal said in his audio recording.

Other online digital audio streaming sites and portals include iTunes U, which is owned by Apple and where universities such as the Columbia University upload educational content; and SoundCloud, where The University of Cambridge and Harvard University upload podcasts and lectures. 

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Education Secretary Michael Gove (Reuters)
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