Trends in Podcast Download Frequency Over Time, Podcast Use, and Digital Literacy in Foreign Language and Literature Courses

Trends in Podcast Download Frequency Over Time, Podcast Use, and Digital Literacy in Foreign Language and Literature Courses

M'hammed Abdous, Betty Rose Facer, Cherng-Jyh Yen
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/IJDET.2015040102
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Podcasts used as supplemental material (PSM) and podcasts integrated into the curriculum (PIC) are complementing, extending, and transforming the traditional face-to-face classroom as well as blended and online courses. This paper examines podcast download frequency among students in foreign language and literature courses over a four-year period by using both students' digital literacy skills and the instructional use of the podcasts (whether PSM or PIC) as predictors. As it analyses four years of trend data between the Fall semester of 2007 and the Fall semester of 2011, the authors; study reveals that the download frequency among the PIC group was relatively higher than that of the PSM group. What's more, it shows that students' digital literacy moderated their frequency of download. This is consistent with previous findings that suggest that instructors can offer students an advantage by using thoughtfully planned and well-designed podcasting activities, which help their students hone the skills necessary for success in the second language (L2) teaching and learning environment.
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1. Introduction

The proliferation of mobile devices with larger screens, high-resolution retina displays, powerful processing, and large storage capacities is dramatically altering and reshaping the higher education landscape (Abdous, Facer, & Yen, 2012). Augmented by recent developments in user interfaces, which trend toward touch, voice, gesture and motion input in lieu of text input, use of these mobile devices is likely to widen user receptiveness and acceptance of audio and video learning content, including podcasting. Furthermore, the proliferation and streamlining of various lecture capture systems facilitate the recording, archiving, distribution, consumption, and circulation of digital content (Hayward, 2011). Amplified by the exponential increase of Web 2.0 applications and their promise of enhancing student learning, podcasting (both audio and video) is augmenting the traditional face-to-face classroom (as well as online and blended courses), meeting students’ expectations while providing unprecedented opportunities for anytime/anywhere self-paced learning.

Subsumed within the proliferation of popular Web 2.0 applications (Rushby, 2010; Hsueh, 2011), podcasting has gained mainstream acceptance as a supplemental tool and/or a revision tool capable of improving students’ academic experience. A number of studies have lauded the effectiveness of podcasting, both in promoting active learning opportunities (Chinn & Williams, 2009) and in changing students’ learning habits (Liu & McCombs, 2007). However, in spite of this enthusiasm, it is critical to examine these claims by exploring students’ usage of podcasting as a learning tool to determine if podcasting is, indeed, potentially capable of contributing to their learning achievement.

To contribute to this understanding, this paper examines the download frequency of podcasts for academic use, as it considers both the instructional use of podcasting and student digital literacy skills. Using a repeated cross-sectional design approach, we examine podcast download frequency among students in foreign language and literature courses between 2007 and 2011. This examination is correlated with the students’ digital literacy skills and with the use of podcasting by their instructors as supplemental to (PSM) or as integrated into (PIC) their course activities (see Table 2 for PIC and PSM details).

In this paper, we briefly review the findings from current literature regarding the benefits and the effectiveness of podcasting, and we also consider the challenges associated with learner-generated podcasts. Subsequent to this, we explain the purpose of the paper and the research questions it explores. This is followed by a short description of the background of the study and a detailed consideration of its methodological approach (sampling, data collection, and analysis). Building on this analysis, we conclude by highlighting key findings, discussing the study's limitations, and proposing further research avenues.

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