Podcasts: A generator of non-formal learning
Keywords:podcast, non-formal learning, higher education , reflection , learning media , extended courses
The present study examines the relationship between the use of podcasts (mp3 files) as a non-formal learning tool. The study´s epistemological origins lie in Dewey's pragmatism and learning and reflection theory, including the learning approach at University College of Northern Denmark’s (UCN) “Reflective Practice-based Learning” (RPL). This paper focuses on how podcasts can increase students’ learning and reflection skills by using podcasts as a generator for non-formal learning. The study is based on two different classes that attend an extended course in digital technologies and project management at the Danish University of Applied Science (UCN). The study applies integrated mixed-method data collection: observations, a quantitative survey, and semi-structured interviews. The observations were carried out during four (project management) and seven (digital technologies) full-day lectures in two different classes. These offered an insight into the extent to which the students acquired knowledge by listening to podcasts between classes. The quantitative data consisted of a survey of 65 students, all of whom participated in the courses. The survey was performed as a part of the evaluation at the final course lectures. The semi-structured interviews (ten in all) were used to investigate how the use of podcasts affects students' reflective skills. Ten semi-structured interviews were conducted. The data in this study finds that podcasts/podcasting can have a positive effect on students’ non-formal learning in higher education. Established on the findings, there is evidence indicating podcasts as a supplement in higher education can increase students´ motivation toward non-formal learning. The study reveals that podcasts hold the potential to stimulate the student's non-formal learning and increase the students’ reflective skills. Based on this evidence, further research is suggested e.g. studies that include an extended investigation on the benefits of students’ non-formal learning by using podcasts.