M-English – Podcast: A Tool for Mobile Devices

M-English – Podcast: A Tool for Mobile Devices

Célia Menezes, Fernando Moreira
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-042-6.ch016
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At the beginning of the 21st century in a world dominated by technology it is essential to enhance and update the school, creating conditions for the students to succeed, consolidating the role of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) as a key resource for learning and teaching in this new era. In this chapter we will describe a study that was carried out in a Portuguese school. As a means to overcome some of the existing logistical obstacles in the school, where the possibility of carrying out ICT activities without restrictions was still dreamlike, the podcast was implemented as an m-learning tool. Being aware of the fact that nowadays mobile phones and mp3 players are part of our students’ lives, we took advantage of this fact and the podcast was used as a tool to support, to enhance and to motivate students to learn English, used thus as a complement to traditional (face-to-face) learning.
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The recent technological revolution established a new order in various fields of human action and Education is one of the most privileged areas. In recent years we have been witnessing huge changes in the students’ behavior and attitudes. Prensky (2001) calls them “digital natives”. They were born and grew up surrounded by mobile phones, computers, Internet, digital television, MP3/4 players, among many other digital and mobile devices. These devices are an integral part of their routines. As a consequence of this phenomenon, the way they process information and interact with it is clearly different from their parents’ generation.

The educational system was not designed for “digital natives” (Prensky, 2001) and it is now taking its first steps towards Knowledge Society. Today’s school must learn to communicate in the language of this new generation and the teachers must be the facilitators of this new language, abandoning comfortable and traditional learning methodologies and approaches. In order to meet up this demand, there is the Portuguese Technological Plan for Education, which main objective is to leverage the skills and qualifications of the Portuguese towards the Knowledge Society. The materialization of this objective involves equipping schools with computer and connectivity equipment and to give teachers the necessary skills in ICT. However, the spread of technological resources will not suffice if there are no tools, materials and appropriate content (Resolução do Conselho de Ministros nº 137/2007, p. 6572).

Web 2.0 offers a huge amount and variety of tools and applications that allow us to meet up the addressed objectives in the ministerial resolution. It is urgent to consider the school, particularly considering that we have within it a generation of students influenced by all these technological devices, the Internet, and social networks. Menezes (2008) relates an experiment with the inclusion of a blog in the context of the English class just as a way to create content and materials in a program unit. According to this author, the experience proved to be fruitful for the improvement of levels of motivation and interest of students in activities. This fact was a strategic element in the recovery of students with very little success in English and also in developing expertise in ICT.

Menezes & Moreira (2009) reported the beginning of this study indicating good forecast in what concerns the attitude and the initial results of students in school year 2008/2009. It also confirmed the potential of the podcast as a new paradigm of learning, and as a trigger to develop activities that foster the development of oral and writing skills in the English language.

In this context the purpose of this chapter to analyze the impact of podcast used as a tool for mobile devices in English class. The podcast was used as a learning support tool to complement and to facilitate English learning with 97 7th grade students.

We will evaluate the impact on the acquisition of specific and cross skills, emphasizing the potential of this tool used in an m-learning approach, realizing how this new paradigm can be an advantage for students in the acquisition and improvement of skills.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Episode: An audio/video file posted online.

Audacity: Free software for recording podcasts.

ICT Skills: Skills concerning technical knowhow of Information and Communication Technologies.

Podcast: A set of episodes (audio/video files) that can be shared with others.

Mobile Devices: Devices that can store content like mobile phones, mp3/4 players, PDAs, etc.

M-Learning: A model that uses mobile devices to support learning.

Web 2.0: A term that describes the interactive read/write Web.

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