Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Audio As a Teaching Tool

We often ask students to listen. We might be lecturing, playing a music recording, or teaching about heart arrhythmia. Each situation requires students to pay attention, and to develop a specific type of listening skill.
Today, we can reproduce a wide range of aural experiences and distribute them easily over the Internet to provide students with "anytime, anywhere" exposure to content, along with increased opportunities to practice the skills we'd like them to learn.

"I learn to see things from different perspectives and listen with different ears. The most important thing that you need to do is really listen." - Itzhak Perlman

Why use audio?
Audio can be used in numerous academic contexts, from music and language instruction to archival recordings of lectures (we'll take a look at a "field recording" example below). Making audio content available online can be an excellent way to reach students, who can listen from any location and at any time via the Internet. Students increasingly expect this content to be available to them, and, fortunately, the means of distribution are increasingly becoming easier to use.
Some reasons you might consider offering audio recordings to your students:
·         To provide students with a study aid they can review after lecture;
·         To enable students to review the lecture in preparation for discussion and debate;
·         To use on an ongoing basis as a reference for students;
·         To free up class time for discussion. Making recorded lectures available before class meetings makes more time available for discussion and hands-on activities.

There are a few potential pitfalls to keep in mind.
First, because students are listening at their convenience, their ability to ask questions or participate in discussion is limited; faculty may want to offer an online space or designate a portion of class time for this purpose.
Second, the visual cues that may accompany in-person delivery are generally lost, unless special efforts are made to capture and synchronize them with the audio track.

Third, many faculty fears that providing content online may limit students' attendance in class, but we have found that this is generally not the case, as have others (Copley, 2007).

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