Article Summary #18: Reconsidering the role of recorded audio as a rich, flexible and engaging learning space

Citation:  Middleton, A. (2016). Reconsidering the role of recorded audio as a rich, flexible and engaging learning space. Research in Learning Technology, 24.
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Summary:  This article looks at the role of podcasts in learning.  Specifically, it explores a case study of how recorded audio was used within a specific course and the different approaches to learning the it represented through a given course.  The first part of the article tackles the literature around learning and learning with sound.  Middleton explains there is a limitation in the technical definition of podcasts which focuses on how they are produced and released, especially when contrast with the pedagogical definition, which focuses more on the how recorded audio made easily available to students can be learned.  He emphasizes that recorded audio offers tone and academic flexibility that allows for more information and knowledge to be passed along more efficiently.  Finally, he distinguishes the difference of recorded audio as just an extension or repackaged lecture and recorded audio as a means of going beyond the instructor, often by reaching out to other resources (other audio content or interviews), having students generate audio content or recording sessions that are dialogic in nature.  Audio offers a highly flexible and portable format for learning objects to be created and to be processed.  He emphasizes that recorded audio should not be considered merely supplemental but as something central to learning.  His case study then highlights four ways that audio can be innovative within a course, which includes introducing new material, providing a bridge between class and other content or learning opportunities, an opportunity to relocate activities that would have taken up face-to-face time, and the ability to capture an activity for replay as well as for those who could not be there.

Keywords: learning activity, podcast, auditory learning, learning, pedagogy, active learning, lecture capture, educational technology

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