Today, podcasting has taken the online world by storm, with teachers adopting digital course content broadcasting distribution technologies with huge enthusiasm. Many leading institutions have begun to use podcasting for instructional delivery. In spring 2007, Dr. Sharon Rouse and I collaborated with the Learning Enhancement Center (LEC) at The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) and launched a podcasting initiative to improve student learning opportunities through the use of innovative technologies. As the first part of the podcasting initiative, we conducted a survey to learn about USM students’ knowledge and attitudes of podcasting use in teaching and learning. Students in face-to-face and online classes of all levels were encouraged to participate in the survey by their professors.
The questionnaire consisted of four parts with a total of 37 items that included questions regarding the students’ demographics, their knowledge and use of podcasting, their personal use and ownership of an iPod or MP3 player, and their learning styles. To encourage students to participate in the survey, students who completed the online survey were entered for the drawing of five ipods given away by LEC. As a result, we had 965 students responded to the questionnaire on Vovici, an online surveyor. The data was collected and analyzed in SPSS.
The 965 responses yielded that 47.5% of the students completing the survey were between 20-25 years of age and that 71.7% of them were females. A great majority of students (84%) had a high speed or LAN connection to the Internet. Among the participants, over 37% of them took a fully online course or hybrid/blended class. Over 40% of students lived more than 16 miles away from campus. About 43% of students’ typical commute time was over 20 minutes. Over 20% of them spent over 60 minutes on the road to campus.
The results show that about 62% of participants own either iPod or MP3 player. More than 40% of them spend 10-20 hours a week using their iPod or MP3 player. Almost 45% of students use their iPod or MP3 player while walking or jogging. Sixty-five percent of them have knowledge about Podcasting, but only 41% have ever listened to a podcast. The majority of these students (74%) have been using a computer for 8 or more years, while 35.9% do not know whether they prefer using an iPod or MP3 player to using a computer. Nor do the students (41%) know whether they learn better from the face-to-face classroom experience.
Nearly 90% of students are interested in accessing instructional materials with their iPod or MP3 player, but only 39% of the students know how to access instructional/learning materials for their iPod or MP3 player. However, almost 55% of the students indicate that a class that is being podcast makes them more likely to take it.
The survey provides interesting information for us while we are in the process of implementing podcasting technology in teaching and learning at USM. The data is being used to design and develop instructional podcasts that will help instructors and students in the learning process, foster students engagement and reflection, and to enhance overall user experience for students in their learning environment.