The advent of iPods and the MP3 format have given users the freedom to download audio files from the internet for later listening. In education terms podcasting has allowed learning materials and resources to become more portable and accessible than ever before, simply because so many students have access to an MP3 player of some kind.
It is predicted that podcasting will soon become a mainstream application, providing those in the teaching and education professions with a cost effective way of distributing course materials and resources. While I don’t think it will ever replace classroom learning, the use of podcasts, webcasts and coursecasting means that the needs of more students can be met in a simple, effective and cost efficient manner.
Like everything else, there are always downsides to such a great technology. For example, having sufficient bandwidth to download the podcast and format compatibility issues. Podcasting does not allow for participatory learning either or any form of audience interaction as it is a form of one-way communication. However, many feel that the possibilities for this form of educational resource are endless and that there will be a rise in the number of podcast aggregators particularly where education is concerned. Students are able to get access to missed lectures, experiment or assignment instructions and other course notes. There are also plans to provide video content within podcasts so students will also be able to view material whilst listening at the same time.
For educational purposes, coursecasting is rapidly being taken up by educational providers such as universities and schools, although some studies have shown students are either unaware of the existence of such resources or are unwilling to use them. The potential benefits to education from podcasting, coursecasting or webcasting are huge so long as they can expand on the classroom learning principles and create new learning experiences which students are willing to use.