I am currently putting together a podcast for the Learning and Collaboration Theories module of my Technical Communication and e-Learning MA. We are tasked with developing a podcast on a topic of our choosing which should span approximately 10 minutes. We also had the choice to develop an e-book using Madcap Flare, however, having developed a screencast from an interview I conducted last year, I had the feeling that the podcast would be something that I might enjoy doing. I was right, I love it!
The process doesn’t feel like work; it is absolutely fascinating. The trick, as I see it, is to provide a relaxed and informal atmosphere whilst at the same time delivering engaging and interesting content capable of maintaining the audiences’ attention for the duration of the podcast. The easiest way for me to strike this balance was to pick a topic close to my heart, therefore, I chose to develop a brief history of Scattery Island (Inis Cathaigh). Scattery is an ancient, monastic island that lies just one mile from my hometown of Kilrush in Co Clare. As an undergraduate student, I spent my summers working as a tour guide on the island and have since that time been fascinated by the islands’ diverse and turbulent history which includes Viking and Norman invasions, a visit by the Spanish Armada and occupation by Queen Elizabeth 1st’s forces who established a Napoleonic battery on the island.
Scripting the podcast has been a really interesting process. As easy as it would have been to become consumed by the material, I had to bear in mind the brevity of the podcast. Preparing concise and coherent content was an interesting exercise and one that I feel was good practice for developing e-learning content in my future career. Developing content in this manner forces you to really evaluate every element of the information pertaining to the subject matter in order to judge its relevance and appropriateness to the learning that you are hoping to facilitate.
As we have learned throughout this MA programme, quality e-learning content, whether delivered in a blended learning or purely online environment, enables learners to engage with the learning in a manner that suits their learning style. Expertly crafted, constructivist learning content will facilitate learners to interact with learning materials at their own pace whilst providing the means to reflect on the learning and develop a higher order appreciation of its value. Podcasting is a means to achieve this learning goal. Podcasting enables the learner to access the material at their convenience, pause and replay the material as needed and begins an examination of a subject area that will hopefully lead to the development of a community of inquiry, whereby learners will collaborate to discuss their learning and thus deepen their understanding of the subject matter.
Podcasting has value beyond the e-learning space. In order to compete with the growing corpus of online content, it is always advisable to deliver content in new and engaging ways. A podcast is a means of providing information in a compelling manner that represents an alternative to the dry textual output of your competitors. Content Shock, a term coined by Mark Schaefer, is the process by which the exponential growth of online content outpaces the human capacity to interact with it; simply put, people don’t have the time to read/consume all the content that is available online. The answer is to make your content stand out and in the era of web 2.0, it is an absolute necessity that we create content that is convenient, on-demand and innovative.
Anyway, I had better get back to it. Hi Ho, Hi Ho…….