This section was prepared by Darcy Lewis for Dr. Susan Garza's Spring 2009 Composition Theory and Pedagogy course at Texas A & M University-Corpus Christi.

I. How is Podcasting and/or Online Video being used in the composition classroom?

Podcasting, the system of delivering audio or video files online via web syndication, is quickly gaining popularity as a tool for classroom use. Not only are the majority of entering freshmen already well-versed in and regular users of podcasting and online video and file sharing, but the sheer magnitude of the integration of multimedia (like that of computers in general) into every facet of the lives of each respective generation of college students commands that it be acknowledged, if not for use in the classroom, then at the very least in terms of its effect on the literacy of students and their writing practices. As Campbell Gardner notes,

"Blogging, shooting and editing video, creating Flash animations, manipulating photographs, and recording digital audio...are the tools of their native expressiveness, and with the right guidance and assignments, they can use these tools to create powerful analytical and synthetic work. Yet even such digitally fluent students need to learn to manipulate their multimedia languages well, with conceptual and critical acumen, and we in higher education do them a disservice if we exclude their creative digital tools from their education" (36).

In terms of the composition classroom, podcasting can be used in the following ways:

  • Recorded lectures from the primary instructor
    • This can be used to disseminate lectures or other classroom experiences in order to maximize class time or re-appropriate the classroom space for other purposes than lecture.
  • Supplemental lectures from secondary external sources, such as experts in the field or guest lecturers
    • "This might take the form of afterthoughts or reflections on in-class discussions, suggestions for further reading and web-based resources, or recorded interviews with professional colleagues on topics germane to the class" (Dangler, McCorkle, and Barrow).
    • These supplements can provide students with opportunities to more deeply examine the topics of the course or explore specific interests for treatment in writing projects and papers.
  • Student projects (either individual or collaborative), such as interviews, montages, and/or critical forums for summary reviews and presentations
    • Digital storytelling, a series of still images accompanied by a recorded narrative and often music (for a full treatment of digital storytelling and its classroom facilitation, see "Constructing Digital Stories").
    • Dangler, McCorkle, and Barrow provide the following suggestions for projects utilizing podcasting technology, assigning students to create:
      • A series of audio ethnographies documenting literacy practices in their local community
      • Audio responses to the class discussion for a given week
      • Public service announcements addressing a pertinent social issue (an assignment that might work well in a course with a service-learning component)
  • Assigned reading delivered in audio format
    • Students listen to the assigned reading (often as a supplement to the assigned text, rather than in lieu of it)
  • Distance learning
    • Podcasting lectures and other course materials can help build a sense of a more traditional classroom experience in distance learning courses
  • Opportunity for peer review and critical thinking:
    • Students peer review each other's podcasts, facilitating a multifarious learning experience that includes a reflective writing component in which students further review the content contained within the podcast and an opportunity to defend or critique the rhetorical choices their peers made in terms of the podcast as a compositional work.

For more detailed information on podcasting assignments in the composition classroom, see:

II. What are the benefits of using Podcasting and/or Online Video in the composition classroom?

  • Awareness of Audience and Purpose:
    • Rather than writing for an ambiguous readership or for the instructor, podcasting helps students conceive of a more concrete audience, thus eliciting writing with a clearly contextualized goal and purpose.
    • "[S]tudent-produced podcasting assignments that rely on peer feedback or that are made available to a broader public can help dramatically illustrate the rhetorical context surrounding sound-based digital production and serve as a vivid reminder that their communication, whatever the mode or medium, is received by an audience" (Dangler, McCorkle, and Barrow).
      • "Assignments that require students to produce their own class podcasts not only actively engages them in synthesizing course content and exposes them to a new mode of composing but also provides a critical opportunity for them to reflect upon the needs and expectations of their audience and how to reach that audience via the rhetorical elements specific to the medium" (Dangler, McCorkle, and Barrow).
  • Active Engagement and Student Motivation:
    • By participating in the construction of composition for a familiar audience (i.e. one's peer group) utilizing a familiar technology platform, student motivation, engagement, and effort are likely to increase.
    • "Inserting the component of audience into pocasting assignments helps to render the product more real for students and teacher alike, in effect creating a more authentic motivation for composing podcasts other than instructor evaluation" (Dangler, McCorkle, and Barrow).
  • Efficiency:
    • The use of podcasting may actually improve students' study practices and scholastic achievement.
    • "Educational podcasting has the potential to help students learn more efficiently and to help instructors disseminate information to students with a wider variety of learning styles" (Dangler, McCorkle, and Barrow).
    • In a study documenting the test scores of students using supplemental podcast lectures, McKinney, Dyck, and Luber found "that students in the podcast condition who took notes while listening to the podcast scored significantly higher than the lecture condition" (617).
  • Collaboration:
    • There is considerable potential for a collaborative interactive learning environment using podcasting applications. Not only can students work collaboratively on podcasting assignments, but the creative use of peer review and workshopping, as well as the sharing of finished projects for further information dissemination has students critically involved in all stages (drafting, editing, revising, reviewing, passive reading/viewing, active reading/viewing, author, audience, etc.) of composition construction.
  • Inexpensive and Accessible:
    • For most students with computer access, podcasting (both the creation and viewing) is a simple, inexpensive, egalitarian medium.
    • "One of the greatest benefits of podcasting is that it is so inexpensive and simple to produce a podcast, virtually anyone can upload their voice into the virtual public square in an effort to attract, build, and sustain an audience" (Dangler, McCorkle, and Barrow).
  • Helpful to Learning Disabled:
    • The ability to pause, rewind, and replay lectures and other traditionally administered materials can level the playing field for those students whose learning disabilities or even alternate learning styles disadvantage them in the context of a traditional classroom.
  • Portability:
    • The majority of students come to college already in possession of portable mp3 players, which allows them to access podcasts from anywhere.
  • Globalization:
    • The ability to connect globally with other students or field experts by way of podcasting helps students connect the ideas of literacy and composition to an increasingly globalized society of which they will likely join upon graduation.

III. What are some potential problems with using Podcasting and/or Online Video in the composition classroom?

  • Regression to Current-Traditional Pedagogical Model:
    • If only used to record and disseminate lectures, podcasting merely perpetuates the current-traditional model of composition pedagogy.
    • "Regarding podcasts as a convenient form that allows educators to deliver multiple types of media represents a better conception of the technology than simply thinking of it as an archival tool for recorded lectures. In other words, podcasts should be recognized for their ability to provide supplemental, additive content to the educational process, not just for serving a replicative function" (Dangler, McCorkle, and Barrow).
  • May Discourage Classroom Attendance:
    • If students have access to lectures as podcasts, they may not feel the need to attend class in person, If podcast lectures are supplemental to the primary active-learning work being done in the classroom, students may miss out on valuable information and collaboration in the classroom by virtue of misinterpreting the availability of podcast lectures.
  • Devaluation of Small Active-Learning Classroom Experience:
    • "A strong temptation exists for cost-conscious college administrators to use podcasting as an excuse to rely even more heavily on large-lecture, interaction-free classrooms. Clearly, these classrooms already hold significant appeal due to their relatively low cost (a result of high instructor: student ratios)" (Dangler, McCorkle, and Barrow).
  • Access:
    • Though most entering freshmen have access to personal computers and/or mp3 players, it cannot be taken for granted. Incorporating podcasting as a requirement (as opposed to simply a supplement) can be exclusionary for non-traditional (older or international) students.
  • Ethics/Inappropriate Content:
    • Opening up podcasting as a medium for student projects can invite potentially offensive discourse into the classroom.
  • Copyright and Legal Issues:
    • The concept of intellectual property in podcasting is still finding its footing in current academic forums. Questions about ownership and rights can possibly lead to contention between instructors, departments, and administrations, and possibly even lead to litigation.
      • Podcasting in the classroom "raises a number of issues around who should have access to lectures and for how long, as well as questions of how the recordings are to be stored and what policies will govern their handling" (EDUCAUSE).
      • "Using these systems for classes, conferences, and guest speakers might require a legal release, particularly when lecture capture depends on a complex infrastructure provided by the institution" (EDUCAUSE).
    • Issues of illegal downloading and copyright infringement may occur in student podcasting projects that may become viral when posted externally outside of the composition classroom.
  • Loss of Focus on Composition:
    • In an effort to integrate a fun, emergent technology, instructors employing podcasting assignments may find it difficult to keep the task at hand relevant to writing/composition.
    • "When it comes to student-created podcasts, it is also important to recognize where such projects intersect with traditional writing projects and where they must diverge from writing and inhabit a new genre of composition. Students and instructors alike may become frustrated by the results of an assignment that merely asks students to turn a written paper into a podcast without a recognition of how written and oral genres differ. However, there are enough intersections between the skills needed to create a podcast and those employed in writing to make podcasts a valuable component of the writing classroom" (Tremel and Jesson).

IV. What pedagogical theory or theories does this technology work best with?

  • Collaborative Pedagogy:
    • Podcasting assignments can be excellent ways to engage students in collaborative work. Students can work together to create podcasts, as well as critically peer-reviewing one another's podcasts (either individually or as a group).
    • Podcasting applications "help to build the collaborative, interactive environment necessary for a successful active-learning classroom.
  • Critical Pedagogy:
    • Podcasting can "help foster a more dynamic and less abstract model of audience that better reflects a real-world context, thereby positioning students to become critical consumers and producers of media products in the future" (Dangler, McCorkle, and Barrow).
  • Cultural Studies:
    • An increased potential for an awareness of globalization can make podcasting a useful supplement to the critical studies pedagogy.
    • "Imagine a liberal-arts university supplying its community, and the world, with 'profcasts' of classes and presentations delivered by its talented instructors--not to give away intellectual property but to plant seeds of interest and to demonstrate the lively and engaging intellectual community created by its faculty in each course" (Gardner 34).

Bibliography of sources:

Belanger, Yvonne. "Duke University iPod First Year Experience Final Evaluation Report." June 2005. Duke University. 3 May 2009 < >.
Campbell, Gardner. "There's Something in the Air: Podcasting in Education." EDUCAUSE Review 40.6 (Nov./Dec. 2005): 33-46.
Carter, Dennis. "Podcast Trumps Lecture In One College Study." eSchool News. 6 Mar 2009. 3 May 2009 < >.
Cook, Matthew A. "Podcasting the Past: Multimedia and the Teaching of History." Vimeo. 3 May 2009 < >.
Dangler, Doug, Ben McCorkle, and Time Barrow. "Expanding Composition Audiences With Podcasting." Computers and Composition Online. 3 May 2009 < >.
EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. "7 Things You Should Know About Lecture Capture." 19 Dec. 2008. 3 May 2009 < >.
Kajder, Sara, Glen Bull, and Susan Albaughto. "Constructing Digital Stories." Learning and Leading With Technology 32.5 (Feb. 2005). 3 May 2009 < >.
Krause, Steven D. "Broadcast Composition : Using Audio Files and Podcasts in an Online Writing Course." Computers and Composition Online. 3 May 2009 < >.
McKinney, Dani, Jennifer L. Dyck, and Elise S. Luber. "iTunes University and the Classroom: Can Podcasts Replace Professors?" Computers & Education 52.3 (2009), 617-623.
Prabhu, Maya T. "What Do Students Want From Their Schools?" eSchool News. 25 Mar. 2009. 3 May 2009 < >.
Torda, Neil. "Automating Podcasting with Wikis and iTunes U." ''West Carolina University Web Site. 3 May 2009 < >.
Tremel, Justin and Jamie Jesson. "Podcasting in the Rhetoric Classroom." Currents in Electronic Literacy Spring 2007. 3 May 2007 < >.