Podcasting – French style!

All the best ideas come to me in the middle of the night. I have been learning about podcasting recently – and since I attended an in-house course on podcasting some time ago. This course covered the technical aspects of podcasting and how a podcast can be used by lecturers to encourage a student to listen to a ‘taster’ before a lecture or a summary of main points covered after the lecture anytime, anywhere. This provides value added content to the lecture.

The most exciting and fun part of the course was when we did the hands-on. A colleague, R and I formed a team and we created a podcast in the form of an interview on the cult-series ‘24’ where Kiefer Sutherland plays Jack Bauer, an agent of the fictional agency CTU – Counter Terrorist Unit. The interview was unscripted and R asked me my views on the main characters and my views on the whole show. I was very pleased when we listened again to the recording. The trainer told us he would upload our podcast to his site, so that future course participants would be able to listen to our podcast, if they deemed it enticing enough to listen to!

Since then, I have been exploring a little on the BBC news podcasts.  I need to explore more here.

Our university library has been piloting a project called ‘listening to language’ for language students (the library is also responsible for the Language Resource Centre at our university). The podcasts consist of several recordings each lasting 3-5 minutes in one of three languages: French, Spanish, or Cantonese. As a languages graduate I listened to a few of the French recordings and surprised myself at how much I understood. I filled out an online evaluation form for a competition with the first prize, being appropriately, an MP3 player.

I can understand how podcasts lend themselves well to language learning. Students can listen to short recordings of one or more speakers talking about themselves, their home town and leisure interests. This can be done while on the move, travelling to or from work, or while doing the washing up!

I wonder if podcasting will ever become widely used at universities, as a way of pandering to the web 2.0 generation and becoming more attuned to the way in which this modern generation learns? Research in America predicts that the use of podcasting will grow by 100% between 2004 and 2010. However, this figure applies to podcasting used in many spheres, including business and not just univeristies.

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