Video Podcasts in Education

Kay, R. (2012) Exploring the use of video podcasts in education: A comprehensive review of the literature. Computers in Human Behavior, 28, 820-831.

This article was constructed as a comprehensive review of research on video podcasts over the past decade to guide educational practice as well as provide a path for future studies. Robin Kay quickly recaps the history and growth of video podcasts in education, types of podcast categories, ties to previous literature/research reviews, discusses the benefits and challenges of using podcasts, and the methodological concerns. The author also highlights purposes for podcasts such as for viewing an entire lecture in a substitutional fashion instead of or after a face-to-face meeting, viewing podcasts that have been segmented or chunked to support classroom instruction, and viewing podcasts to practice targeted skills or specific problems. One pedagogical concern raised in the article related to the relatively passive manner in which most video podcasts are viewed.

With flipped learning gaining steadfast momentum in the educational community, Kay’s literature review serves as a great first read by a novice researcher in need of baseline knowledge of video podcasts for educational use. Data collected through student surveys in the research evaluated pointed to some key reasons for using video podcasts in education including preparing for class, taking better notes, improving learning, using as a self-check for understanding the content, for missing a lecture, etc. Additionally, the literature examination calls attention to the student attitudes toward video podcasts as predominately positive, enjoyable and motivating. As with any examination of studies, attention must be given to methodological concerns as well as pedagogical shortfalls. Those highlighted concerns help researchers unify, improve and extend the quality of future research in this area.

This article has significant impact in my district. There are many teachers realizing the benefits of flipping lessons such as seeding concepts before being taught, segmenting or chunking learning with short videos for tough concepts, and students using videos as test prep. These same teachers are also reframing how they teach to support flipped learning. The teachers now realize that they no longer need to stand and deliver that instruction, but instead utilize a workshop model approach to address the individual needs of each learner or small group of learners. The students seem to enjoy being in control of their learning, like knowing about the content in advance of the class as well as having video podcasts available to study before a test. Additionally, my district has spent the last three years preparing the technology infrastructure by reshaping and increasing district broadband services, installing more robust wireless, offering video repository locations and student BYOD. I do agree with the passiveness component that video podcasts can have, but recognize that there are web tools to leverage student interactivity, video segmenting and other unique ways to get the learner actively involved, i.e., Blendspace, personalized playlists, LessonPaths, ThingLink, Nearpod, Pear Deck, etc.

Does Technology Make People Smarter?

Salomon, G, & Perkins, D. (2005). Do technologies make us smarter? Intellectual amplification with, of and through technology. In R.J. Sternberg, & D. D. Preiss (Eds). Intelligence and technology: The impact of tools on the nature and development of human abilities (pp. 71-86). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Salomon and Perkins present an exceptional article by asking, “Do technologies expand our cognitive capabilities in any fundamental sense?” This clever approach in questioning extends the age-old question of “Do technologies really enhance the classroom?”, by providing a much deeper focus on the role that technology plays in cognition. Their schema uses a discerning lens to study three kinds of “effects” that technology has in learning: 1) “effects with technology”, when it is used to improve the intellectual performance while one is operating the tool; 2) “effects of technology”, when the use of technology may leave cognitive residues which enhance performance even after one stops using it; and 3) “effects through technology”, when the technology sometimes does not just enhance performance, but fundamentally reorganizes it (p. 72). Salomon and Perkins’ definitions of the “effects” of technology assist stakeholders in determining the affordances and also the limits of the role that technology plays in the classroom before, during and after integration into the learning setting.

Salomon and Perkins clearly provide a value-added pathway to determine in what sense a technology or technologies might make the end-user cognitively more capable. Their strategy of determining the role of technology using the effects with/of/through, can serve as a powerful system for planning, implementing and evaluating the sustenance of classroom technology tools, apps, web tools and standalone software. It should be noted though, that it would be quite easy to use the three buckets of “effects” individually to disseminate a technology tool’s effectiveness, but there should really be some flexibility applied when appraising how technologies support cognitive functioning. Salomon and Perkins also identify the importance of technology as an intellectual partnership where there is a distinct and appropriate division of labor by both the technology and the end-user. Furthermore, the authors skillfully compare the effects with/of/through of technology on cognition to determine the pace and magnitude of impact to anticipate how quickly such effects can emerge throughout the learning process. These comparisons help stakeholders solidify the individual pieces into one puzzle, thus offering a complete picture.

I think this article has tremendous impact in the field of K-12 education. There are so many ways in which technology can make us smarter, but there are also many ways in which technology can derail the learning process. As more and more technology tools, web-based programs and apps get folded into the classroom environment as well as students actively participating with their own devices through BYOD, there is a greater and more urgent need from all stakeholders to better understand the “effects” that technology is having to enhance programmatic learning, positive return on investment and long-term sustainability. In the future, I could see our district using a two-fold approach to implementing the Salomon and Perkins framework. The first approach could be initiated when making new building, department and/or specific classroom technology tool purchases by hosting a collaborative instructional team to work through a matrix of intended use, effects with/of/through, support to instructional strategies, etc. The second usage of the “effects” that technology is having could occur in the classroom setting with the students and teacher debating the technology uses from a cognitive and social standpoint. Although the second process is perhaps a little too cerebral for some grade levels, I believe it would serve as a compelling exercise for both the teacher and students to defend the technology tools they use. Personally, I performed this analysis on an app-based platform that our district has used for a few years. My evaluation served as a great reminder of why we selected the tool, the grade levels paired with the tool, the intellectual partnership that the tool encourages, the content residues that the tool affords and the inclusion of the 4C’s that we strive to achieve every day. Additionally, I think there is more leverage up front in having an idea of how the technology will benefit the learner vs. here’s the technology, now go build some impactful lessons or units of study with the tool(s) provided.


Learning Sciences

Sawyer, R. K. (2006). Chapter 1 introduction: The new science of learning. In R. K. Sawyer (Ed.). The Cambridge Handbook of the Learning Sciences (p. 1-16). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Sawyer’s introductory chapter on learning sciences describes the influence of an interdisciplinary approach to studying the teaching and learning process. He defines Instructionism, a traditional approach to learning, with commonsense assumptions that were never scientifically tested and highlights the need to understand how the knowledge construction process works, known as Constructivism, for learners to grasp deeper meaning in their studies. Sawyer further defines the sciences of learning to include cognitive science, sociology, anthropology, educational psychology, neuroscience, computer science as well as a few other fields. Using key components of the learning science disciplines, classrooms can be reshaped into more effective learning environments by incorporating technology and offering social components to better support learner needs and increased student achievement. Overall, Chapter 1 of the Cambridge Handbook highlights just how complex it is to design effective classroom learning.

Sawyer sufficiently connects all of the key concepts together in this introductory chapter. The big ideas of instructionism, constructivism, authentic learning, complex representation, reflection and revisitation, socio-cultural approach and the powerful role that technology can play in transforming learning is paramount. Sawyer clearly outlines the processes involved in learning which include acquiring expertise, working with prior knowledge and promoting better learning through scaffolding and collaboration. There is great value in employing design science practices to analyze a learning environment, identify the innovations that are working and to separate out those classroom components that need improvement. The end of the first chapter was summed up quite nicely by Sawyer questioning whether education is an art or a science.

I am fascinated by the framework of learning sciences. Not too often in the field of K-12 education, has time been spent pondering better ways to design classroom environments and facilitate high-quality learning. Usually time, money and minimal resources hinder any transformative classroom revamping. With iGeneration students entering schools and the new skills demanded from the global workforce, school systems are finally feeling pressed to reconsider what type of students they need to graduate in order to be prepared for college and career readiness. In my current position as a Next-Gen Strategist launching¬†Next-Gen Classrooms, I have the privilege of working closely with a relatively large group of teachers that have decided to reshape their thinking, instructional delivery methods, technology integration and physical classroom space. This article speaks to exactly how we’ve begun to transform about a quarter of our classrooms by employing new instructional strategies, offering students authentic learning projects, getting students to think across the curriculum domains, utilizing technology to facilitate scaffolding, collaboration, reflection and much more. I feel it is an exciting time to work in the field of education and to research new ways to transform the teaching and learning process.