Aspen schools may try podcasting
April 24, 2009
Here is a typical scenario at Aspen High School: Midway through the last period, the lacrosse team leaves to catch a bus to their game – missing half their last-period lecture.
But what if the athletes could watch a podcast – or vodcast – of their teacher’s lecture on the bus?
That’s an option the Aspen School District will be looking into this summer, thanks to workshops created by Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams, two chemistry teachers in Woodland Park.
“I just know we want to get some people to these so we can explore whether or not it’s a fit for us,” Superintendent Diana Sirko said.
On their Web site, learningformastery.com, Bergmann and Sams point out that podcasting also can be a useful tool for students who miss classes because of illness, who tend to stop paying attention in the middle of the lecture – or for students who process information more slowly and need to hear a concept a number of times.
Bergmann and Sams have found podcasting to be so useful they actually have flip-flopped the way they teach, they say. Students in their classes now listen to their lectures, by podcast, at home – and then use class time to work in small groups, do experiments, and solve problems in an arena where teachers are available for help.
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“Instead of being the ‘sage on stage,’ we play the role of a coach,” write the teachers on their Web site. “We are in amongst our students helping them to stay on task and do their best.”
Bergmann and Sams go so far as to suggest that podcasting can be used to create a classroom where students move ahead at their own pace – taking tests to show mastery of content before they watch the next podcast.
But Sirko says the Aspen School District doesn’t yet know how it will use podcasting – it just feels it ought to explore the new technology.
“It has a lot of uses, I think, for the future and certainly capitalizes on the fact that a lot of these kids have iPods,” Sirko said. “Anytime you have a high-speed Internet connection, you can download what happened in class.”