Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Podcasting and the Attention Curve

The logo used by Apple to represent Podcasting
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
We were working with one of our brilliant faculty here at College of the Redwoods, Pamela Netzow, who is creating an audio annotation and guide to a very complex accounting textbook. She came in for a meeting today and the conversation turned to student attention span. There is a lot of research out there on this and our multimedia instructional designer, Dan Fiore, sent us a video by Rhona Sharpe that included the statement that "while teachers are lecturing, students are not attending to what is being said about 40% of the time, and this has been shown in numerous studies" and that students' attention spans in "passive tasks" is about 15 minutes.


This really makes breaking up an in-class lecture with activities and discussion very important. It also brings into question the whole idea of putting up entire lectures online via lecture capture software. The best use of lecture capture software, according to this research, would be to record demonstrations, short lectures, and brief presentations.

Pam's efforts also tie into some research that I had read recently about engaging students in content being an important factor in student success and retention rates.With Pam's podcasts, students will learn not only what is important for the class, but I think that this is a great way to teach students how to effectively use a textbook.

Even though podcasting is not exactly new technology, it is fairly new to Humboldt County and our students. It has the advantages of being low-bandwidth and available on a wide variety of phones, mp3 players, and computers. We will certainly report back here the results of our instructors efforts.
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