Are podcasts better than lectures?

Podcasts, a series of recorded broadcasts on Internet, are now very popular in higher education. It is one of technologies we can use to free up class-time learning from the lowest levels to the highest levels of Bloom’s taxonomy (1956). Bowen (2012) in his book insisted that “podcasts are better than lectures, or even lecture capture, because it can do more things at once and offers many more possibilities for customization.”

As reading the chapter five, I was wondering if podcasts are really better than lectures. It seemed alike to say that listen a symphony form iPod is better than go to a concert. Well, we all know both learning experiences are totally different. Also, whether it actually facilitates learning and/or help students achieve better grades is, however, unclear.

Personally, in the academic learning, I prefer go to lectures much more then listen to podcasts by myself. That’s why I have never made my own podcast or only using few existing podcasts or videos in my teaching. I had seen other instructors using it, but the results were not what they expected. I can see that it could be a great tool to support and enhance students in learning such as to review the lectures or to learn more advance materials if they are interesting in those topics, but it cannot be better or able to replace lectures.

I can perceive that the major values of podcasts are to allow students not to miss any important materials and easy to take notes by stopping and listening to it more than once. As students spend more time on using podcasts in their learning, I believe their grades should be significantly improved. In addition, it allows instructors to provide a mass of further resources for students to meet their needs.  

It is a great teaching tool for the self-directed students who are able and willing to plan, execute, and evaluate their own learning with or without the help of an instructor. Unfortunately, I found students who just graduated from high school were tending to be dependent learners, specially the students from Asia. They might only use it as revising for exams. On the other hand, the graduate students were tending to be more self-directed in their learning. Instructors might be able to use podcasts for reviewing the basic concepts and free up class-time learning for higher-order processing of foundational knowledge – applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating such as case studies.

I know everyone learns differently; some students learn by reading, some learn by hearing, and some learn by doing. To be a highly qualified professional educator, I should be able to use the wide range of teaching methods to support students’ learning. I can see podcast can combine multiple learning styles into a single format that allow me to teach a wider range of students.

Here is a great podcast created by my PIDP 3240 classmate, Kimberly Kenny about the Flipped Classroom.



Bloom B. s. (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives, handbook I: The cognitive domain. New York: David McKay Co Inc.

Bowen, J. A. (2012). Teaching naked: How moving technology out of your college classroom will improve student learning. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.



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