A lot of universities across the country have begun to integrate podcasting as a learning tool, and Santa Monica College is one of them.
SMC began with a pilot program last summer which focused on lending Apple iPods to approximately 25 incoming freshman so they could download video, audio, photos, graphics and text for their homework assignments. They also got the chance to develop their own script for a podcast. Both the students and teachers have been very enthusiastic about the program.
In an interview with the Mirror, SMC Vice President of Planning and Development Marvin Martinez stated the program is “still at the testing phase.” The College is still deciding “which classes it will work best for” and what specific students should be targeted for the program. So far, the iPods have been used for English courses, and next they will be tested in math classes. iPods are being used because they are small and portable and “young people are very familiar with the iPod technology.”
Apple, the manufacturer of iPods, “is working with major universities across the country to promote the use of iPods,” said Martinez. SMC is the first community college to begin using them, and Apple is giving the school a discount on the technology. SMC has also arranged to return the iPods to Apple when they become outdated.
Al DeSalle, SMC’s Director of Media and Graphic Services, emphasized podcasting is “not trying to change the college’s lecture format” but rather would be used as a “supplement to the educational content that is going through the lecture.” It is the hope that SMC students will be willing “to listen to educational content” on iPods in addition to music. DeSalle also noted that because of the portability of iPods, students who commute by bus would be able “to tune into educational content during their commute” and make better use of that time.
Earlier this year, Verizon Communications Inc. awarded a $30,000 grant to SMC for its podcasting program.
The college’s press release on the subject states the SMC on iTunes U (http://itunes.smc.edu) features course content, student work and audio podcasts of various guest speakers at the college and public SMC Board of Trustees meetings. All material is free to the public, who can download content to Macs or PCs and, if they choose, transfer that content to iPods and MP3 players.
DeSalle is very enthusiastic about exploring podcasting because “it takes a new technology and applies it to an educational setting.” In addition, “Anything that promotes education we need to explore.”