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Voices of the Global Community

Sarah Keeling and Stephanie M. Foote, University of South Carolina Aiken

Introduction

Communicating essential and often timely information to students can be a daunting daily task for academic advisors. Although today’s students are often considered more “connected” to technology than previous generations, this connectivity can present a new obstacle: competing to get students’ attention.

Howe and Strauss (2003) discussed this current generation of college students in their book, Millennials go to College. Students of the millennial generation, or “Net Gen,” are key players in a technological surge. “Millennials will gravitate easily toward – even insist upon – information technologies that simplify and streamline their educational experience” (Howe & Strauss, 2003, p. 127).

As technology becomes more dynamic, moving from email to MySpace/Facebook and beyond, advisors may find themselves searching for ways to reach their advisees. Podcasting is just one of many tools advisors can and should consider using.

What is Podcasting?

Wikipedia (2007) defined podcasting as a method of distributing multimedia files via the Internet for playback on mobile devices and personal computers; the term comes from combining the words “pod” (portable on demand) and “broadcasting.” Podcasts can be accessed with a personal computer or any portable music player. According to Lum (2006), “national studies show that more than 80 percent of college students own at least one device that can download and play recordings” (p. 4). Carrie Windham’s 2007 article, “Confessions of a Podcast Junkie,” further indicated the popularity of mobile music devices and said that in 2006 these devices were the most popular items on college campuses.

Although podcasts can be downloaded on mobile music devices, students can also access podcasts on their personal computers, in campus computer labs, or on virtually any computer that is connected to the Internet. The vast opportunities to access podcasts can make this technology appealing to advisors, faculty, and campus administrators. Another important aspect of podcasting is that students can often “subscribe” to podcasts and receive updated versions of the podcast when new information is available. The subscription option also makes it possible to produce a series of podcasts connected to a particular topic and make all of those available to students who wish to subscribe.

Types of podcasts range from a simple recording – a person or a few people talking about a specific topic – to enhanced podcasting featuring pictures, Web links, and/or slide shows. Video clips can also be added to podcasts to create a “vodcast.”

Why Podcasting?

Very simply, podcasting can help advisors maximize the impact they have on campus by reaching a potentially larger audience through a more innovative medium. Advisors can not only reach more students through podcasting, they can often do so with scarce resources. Simple podcasts require little more than a microphone and recording software, and there are many online resources to help advisors learn the basic steps to develop and upload podcasts.

Recently many campuses have begun to draw on what they know about the “Net” generation’s interest in technology and have found ways to incorporate myriad technologies into pedagogy. In “Top Ten Teaching and Learning Issues, 2007,” John Campbell and Diana Olbinger described what they referred to as the current generation’s expectations regarding technology: “…they expect it to be integral to their lives and to serve them, including in education” (p. 18).

While various technologies are often grouped together, not all are equal. For example, unlike email, which is often passive and solitary, podcasting usually provides some level of interaction. McNeely (2005) confirmed that interactivity is a learning characteristic associated with today’s students. The versatility of podcasting may also appeal to students with various learning styles and may be used to reinforce instruction and knowledge (Brown, 2006). Further, Brown stated that the novelty of podcasts appeals to both students and administrators.

How Can Advisors Use Podcasts?

Advisors can and are using podcasts in a variety of ways. One way advisors can begin using podcasting technology is to convert workshops to podcasts, either by uploading audio files (procured as the workshops are presented) or by adding slides or video clips to the audio to create enhanced podcasts or vodcasts. The usefulness of podcasts is not limited to communicating information to students; podcasting also presents professional development and training opportunities for advisors. Podcasts can be created to train advisors and made available for them to access on Web sites or in Web portals.

Conclusion

Today’s advisees are utilizing “technology to elevate the community” (Howe & Strauss, 2003, p. 21). Their community is your college campus. Podcasts are not meant to replace face-to-face interactions between advisor and advisee, but are a means of reaching out to the students in ways that are attractive to them. Podcasting, like other forms of technology, will likely grow and change, but for advisors who are willing to learn, podcasting can present limitless opportunities.

Sarah M. Keeling
Academic Advisor
Academic Success Center
University of South Carolina Aiken
SarahK@usca.edu

Stephanie M. Foote
Director of the Academic Success Center and First-Year Experience
University of South Carolina Aiken
stephanief@usca.edu

References

Campbell, J. P., Oblinger, D. G., & Colleagues. (2007). Top-ten teaching and learning issues, 2007. Educause Quarterly, 30 (3), 15-22.

Howe, N., & Strauss, W. (2003).  Millennials go to college. Washington, DC: American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers and LifeCourse Associates.

Lum, L. (2006, March 9).  The power of podcasting.  Diverse Issues in Higher Education, 23 (2), 32. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. EJ763137). Retrieved August 23, 2007, from ERIC database

McNeely, B. (2005). Using technology as a learning tool, not just the cool new thing (chap. 4). In D. G.

Oblinger & J. L. Oblinger (Eds.), Educating the net generation (Educause e-Book). Retrieved August 23, 2007, from www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/pub7101.pdf.

Wikipedia. (2007). Definition of podcasting. Retrieved August 23, 2007, fromhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Podcasting.

Windham, C. (May/June 2007). Confessions of a podcast junkie. Educause Review, 42 (3), 52-65.

Cite this article using APA style as: Keeling, S. & Foote, S. (2007, December). Podcasting: Helping advisors get connected to the 'net gen'. Academic Advising Today, 30(4). Retrieved from [insert url here]

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