Vodcasts! How to Unsuccessfully Implement a New Online Tool

Vodcasts! How to Unsuccessfully Implement a New Online Tool

Andrea Crampton (Charles Sturt University, Australia), Thiru Vanniasinkam (Charles Sturt University, Australia) and Natalie Milic (Charles Darwin University, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-874-1.ch008
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Abstract

Online technology is increasingly used in higher education and training. Recent advances in information and communication technologies (ICTs) have enabled the implementation of an array of tools, such as online tutorials, videos, podcasts and vodcasts, which are utilised within the education and business sectors. In this chapter the authors describe a study analysing the uptake of a new online tool by a cohort of internal and distance first year microbiology students enrolled in Pharmacy, Medical Science and Biotechnology programs. Key findings included the central role publicising the electronic resources plays in the uptake of new technology. Potential advantages and pitfalls of implementing online ICTs in a discipline that traditionally relies on face-to-face instruction and very little virtual learning are discussed making this study relevant to any field considering the adoption of new ICTs.
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Introduction

A novice microbiologist requires not only the content knowledge of their field but must also develop the laboratory skills necessary to utilise their knowledge in their future workplace. Such skills are developed through training and demonstrations by skilled microbiologists and continued practice by the novice. Thus, skill development is contingent upon access to a skilled microbiologist and time at the bench to practice these skills. However, increasing class sizes (from 198 in 2005 to 540 in 2009) have impacted individuals’ access to experienced microbiologists, and laboratory time. Therefore, an alternative method of supplementing student skill development is required that is independent of the laboratory. Ideally such a resource would allow students to familiarise themselves with a technique prior to attending the laboratory, to ensure their time at the bench and with the experienced microbiologists were used effectively.

Such a resource would ideally provide students with the ability to reflect on what they have learnt and review skills or concepts that they did not fully comprehend during the laboratory session. This would be particularly useful to English as Second Language (ESL) students whose language skills often infringe on their ability to understand all of the relevant information during a laboratory session. Accessing key resources, when required and as often as required, would enable students to repeatedly view the information and gather any additional resources, such as translation dictionaries, to ensure complete comprehension of the material. This would allow many ESL students to achieve a desired level of competence without having to seek further clarification or help, which can be a significant issue for many cultures (Park, 2000).

In this chapter we describe the creation of a set of resources designed to supplement student skill development and conceptual understanding independent of laboratory space. To achieve this we designed seven vodcasts which are short videos hosted on a central server and distributed to students via the universities, Sakai based, course management platform. The term podcast and the application has become widespread throughout the globe; podcasting was the New Oxford American Dictionary word of the year in 2005 (Olanoff, 2006). Podcast refers to the distribution of audio or video, generally to subscribers, often by Real Simple Syndication feed (RSS). The term podcast is most often associated with audio files and the term vodcast used to describe files with an audio and image content. Audio podcast are extensively used in the education sector leading to the development of iTunes University (iTunes U) by the Apple Corporation. iTunes U is a free service that enables universities and colleges to post their educational materials for students and members of the general community to download to their computers or portable devices (Brown & Green, 2008). Educational podcasts account for at least 7% of all available podcasts hosted on the world wide web (Palmer & Devitt, 2007). The attraction of podcasts lie in their ability to provide students with a relevant reference source they can access when they want, as often as they want and, in the case of portable devices, whilst engaging in other activities.

Unlike its audio predecessor, podcasting, vodcasting for education is relatively new, with most of the available vodcasts being clips originally designed for television or video rather than purpose built (Brown & Green, 2008). Unlike traditional television and video recordings used in education, vodcast are cheap to produce and even cheaper to distribute to a large widespread audience (Jham et al, 2007). This makes them a valuable tool for distance educators. Purpose designed vodcasts are slowly emerging as teaching tools. While many of the initial attempts were snippets of live lectures others are working to develop more practically orientated vodcasts to demonstrate clinical skills for dentists (Jham et al, 2007) or enhanced image libraries for radiologists (Corl et al, 2008).

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