About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 4526-4538
Publication year: 2009
ISBN: 978-84-612-9801-3
ISSN: 2340-1117

Conference name: 1st International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-8 July, 2009
Location: Barcelona ,Spain

IS ANYBODY OUT THERE?: PODCASTING AND THE DISTANCING EFFECT IN THE ONLINE CLASSROOM

M. Van Baalen-Wood

University of Wyoming (UNITED STATES)
The last five years have seen tremendous growth in online education, from an estimated 1.6 million students in 2002 to nearly four million in 2007 (Allen & Seaman, 2008). As the online student demographic grows, so do concerns about the effects of distance on teaching and learning. As Glenn Russell explains, “indications from communications research and philosophy suggest the existence of a distancing effect, whereby students who are separated in time and place by mediating technologies may have reduced empathy for the well-being of others” (2004, “Abstract”). The distancing effect can detract from the educational experience and “disadvantage students in comparison with traditional face-to-face teaching” (Russell, 2004, “Existence” section, para. 14). Distancing, Russell argues, is most pronounced in courses that rely exclusively on text and email for content and communication. In contrast, he suggests, audio, video, and synchronous methods of communication may be powerful tools for counteracting the distancing effect of online education.

Podcasting, a relatively recent technology that delivers audio, and sometimes video, content directly to students may be one way of narrowing the distance effect in the online classroom. Many early studies indicate that podcasting is particularly effective for augmenting written material and making course content more accessible to a wide variety of students, especially auditory learners who “prefer hearing directions, lectures, or verbal information” (Bonk & Zhang, 2006, p. 250). Along with content delivery, podcasts offer a glimpse of the instructor through his/her recorded voice, vocal inflections, cadence, etc., thereby creating a sense of personal contact that is often missing from the online classroom. Indeed, many online students report that podcasts help them ‘get to know’ their instructors, a feeling they welcome in the largely impersonal online learning environment.

Is podcasting, then, the antidote to the distancing effect? This paper examines podcasting’s effect on the distancing question, asking if and how podcasting affects both students’ and instructors’ perspectives of distance in the online course. If podcasting creates a perception of intimacy on the part of the student, does that perception diminish or increase the distancing effect? Drawing from my own and others’ experiences podcasting in the online classroom, I will argue that although podcasting can create a perception of intimacy, at least for students, it may, in fact, widen the gap between instructor and student, limiting even further the online instructor’s already “limited access to students' emotional states,” (Russell, 2007) and ultimately impeding the instructor’s ability to respond to student needs in the online environment.
@InProceedings{VANBAALENWOOD2009ISA,
author = {Van Baalen-Wood, M.},
title = {IS ANYBODY OUT THERE?: PODCASTING AND THE DISTANCING EFFECT IN THE ONLINE CLASSROOM},
series = {1st International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies},
booktitle = {EDULEARN09 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-612-9801-3},
issn = {2340-1117},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Barcelona ,Spain},
month = {6-8 July, 2009},
year = {2009},
pages = {4526-4538}}
TY - CONF
AU - M. Van Baalen-Wood
TI - IS ANYBODY OUT THERE?: PODCASTING AND THE DISTANCING EFFECT IN THE ONLINE CLASSROOM
SN - 978-84-612-9801-3/2340-1117
PY - 2009
Y1 - 6-8 July, 2009
CI - Barcelona ,Spain
JO - 1st International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
JA - EDULEARN09 Proceedings
SP - 4526
EP - 4538
ER -
M. Van Baalen-Wood (2009) IS ANYBODY OUT THERE?: PODCASTING AND THE DISTANCING EFFECT IN THE ONLINE CLASSROOM, EDULEARN09 Proceedings, pp. 4526-4538.
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