What is it?
Podcasts and videos have been used for some time in teaching and learning to record lectures or provide supplementary material. However, they are also a way of assessing module content in an authentic and engaging way, either individually or as part of group assessment. They allow students to use digital media to communicate with audiences and peers, to manage planning processes and to apply existing knowledge or generate new ideas. In the process students develop skills to express themselves in these digital forms. A podcast is usually a digital audio file but can include some video content (sometimes called a vodcast). There are a variety of technologies that students can use to create podcasts and video but they will require time, practice and training. They can be used in formative or summative situations, but are often more suitable in longer modules, blended or fully online courses, interdisciplinary courses or cross-programme assessment due to the amount of planning, effort and resources needed to support students to create good quality assignments.
Why would I use it?
- These are widespread media. An estimated 23% of Britons are listening to podcasts, 27% of them on a weekly basis (OfCom, 2019).
- Audio and video are authentic means of communication with different audiences, mirroring real-world contexts that students will find themselves in the world of research and of work (Armstrong and Tucker, 2009).
- They can stimulate creativity and innovative thinking, increasing the depth of learning. They are more challenging, therefore more motivating and engaging than some traditional means of assessment. They are also more interesting and fun to mark!
- They facilitate direct engagement with technology, making them suitable for courses which have a strong technology element and to enhance employability strands in disciplines which do not.
- They can support diversity and inclusion by catering to different learning preferences, those who cannot access campus regularly and facilitates the expression of ideas for those who might struggle with academic discourse.
- Although high smartphone ownership means that most students already own the means of recording audio and video, students may not be familiar with the composition practices, so support and guidance might be needed. Groups of students can sustain each other in ambitious interpretations of the brief, and in attempting technically demanding work (Vogel, 2018).
- Give students examples which illustrate a range of interpretations of the assessment brief.
- Ensure that the planning processes are foregrounded and expectations about the format, nature and quality of the podcasts are made clear in the assignment brief.
- Consider the assessment of both product and process.
- Consider practical issues such as file storage, devices students will use and how they will submit.
- Consider and make students aware of the issues that arise with social media technologies, such as ethics and GDPR when making something public. This is especially crucial if students are interviewing people outside the class or university. These elements may need to be brought explicitly into the curriculum.
- Consider accessibility, and what it is reasonable to ask students to do to make their work accessible. This is especially important if the work is outward facing.
How has it been used?
As with blogs and wikis, podcasts and videos can be used in a large variety of ways. The most common use of a podcast is to create a short program about a topic or concept for a lay audience.
- Chris Buddle provides an example from the Ecology Department at McGil University
Videos can be used simply for recorded presentations, or for more ambitious tasks such as animation or creating a documentary or instructional film.
- International foundation year law students at King’s English Language Centre used Youtube to create videos as an alternative to Powerpoint presentations.
- Marcos Martinon-Torres from UCL Archaeology provides an example of video assessment.
- Here is a further example from The University of Greenwich History department.
- Students and staff talk about making and assessing this kind of work in these eight short thematic videos from UCL.
- International students on English language courses at the University of Westminster produced a series of podcasts for fellow students coming to the UK on aspects of UK culture, including weather, food etc. This could be also adapted for modern foreign languages courses.
- Students in seminar groups could be allocated a week to podcast on key aspects of a lecture topic (Frydenberg, 2006) or prescribed reading for the cohort as part of a formative or summative assessment.
- Benjamin Hunter from SSPP’s Department of International Development is assessing vlogs (video blogs) by his Level 6 students ‘Health and Development in Emerging Economies’ module. See his Case Study for more information.