Imagine a world where students can access a lecture with the swipe of a finger across a smartphone screen. From home to a coffee shop, at any and all hours, the learning process could commence and continue.
And now it can, thanks to podcasts.
Podcasts, those ubiquitous recorded audio files that are uploaded onto the internet, have quickly become a powerful tool in education.
They're helping teachers be more effective, students be more engaged and everyone involved in education to achieve success.
If there is one thing educators have come to learn, it's that not all students learn the same way.
Some students are auditory learners and prefer a lecture. Others need to read written words in order to fully grasp concepts and theories.
Podcasts allow teachers to deliver both by recording their classroom lectures, posting them online as podcasts and then using podcast transcription to turn their spoken words into written words.
Students who learn best by listening can go back and review the lecture whenever they need to, and students who learn best by reading can get the transcription.
It truly is a win-win scenario for both teachers and students.
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Everyone in education knows that the key to success is keeping students in the classroom. Unfortunately, many students miss classes due to illnesses, family obligations and a variety of other reasons.
But when a podcast and their transcripts are available, the students are less likely to fall behind.
They can log on and listen, print out the podcast transcription and read, and stay up to date with the latest lessons--no matter where they are or why they missed school.
Yes, podcasts can play a powerful role outside the classroom, too.
Yesterday's book reports have become today's podcasts.
Sure, students still need to learn to analyze information, organize and write about it, but they also need to develop technical and communication skills that will help them in the new digital age.
Having students produce podcasts is a great way to teach them about technology, storytelling and production. They also lend themselves nicely to group projects, where they'll learn about collaboration as well.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are nearly 5 million students in grades pre-kindergarten to 12 whose first language isn't English.
And while the United States is truly a melting pot that is becoming more diverse every year, mastering the English language is still an essential part of achieving the American dream.
And podcasts can help English language learners do just that.
Being able to listen to a lecture in English, while following along with the written text, can help students struggling with the language and become proficient much more quickly.
Why read about someone who is making history when you can hear from them in their own words?
According to information published in Ad Age, podcasting is taking over the internet--and it's not expected to stop any time soon.
Politicians, thought leaders, business professionals, historians and athletes are all podcasting, meaning students can hear directly from the people making news--in their own words.
That's an incredibly powerful way to learn.