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  1. I thought you might want to know of a new way that vodcasting is being used in the K-12 classroom.

    A colleague, Aaron Sams, and myself have begun teaching using podcasting and I wanted to let you know what we are doing. We are both high school science teachers who are techno geeks, but are very excited about what we see happening with our students as we tech with podcasting. After reading your article I thought you might be interested about how we are using podcasting to improve student achivement.

    Below is a synopsis of what we are currently doing:

    This year we have completely restructured the way in which we teach Chemistry through the use of the video podcast. We are very interested in attending and possibly presenting at this summit to share with our colleagues that which we believe to be a very powerful use of the podcast in education, and also to learn from our colleagues how to better utilize the podcast.

    Let us briefly explain our current paradigm and our vision for podcasting in the future. Last school year we discovered some software (snapkast) that allowed us to interface with PowerPoint and create an MP4 file that includes audio of our voices and pen strokes on the slides. We began using the software to record our lectures and make them available to students on our websites. This proved to be an effective way for absent students to catch up and also allowed us as instructors to pre-record the lesson and stay on schedule with content when we were absent.

    Upon discussing the power of podcasting with some college students we received some interesting feedback. The students sang the praises of podcasting because they no longer had to attend class for a lecture. Instead they could listen to the content on their own time. This made us reconsider the value of classtime and contact time with our high school students. We realized that our students need us physically present most when they are doing labs, working out problems, and wrestling through an assignment. Historically, when a student has trouble with an assignment at home he does one of three things: calls a friend, doesn’t do it, or copies from another student. We feel that if the student had access to an instructor while working on his assignment, he would be able to ask for expert help when needed. We then noted that our physical presence is not necessary for the presentation of content, so we decided to flip the way we teach on its head. That which has traditionally been presented in an in-class lecture is now pre-recorded and the students watch the video podcast at home before class. That which was traditionally assigned as homework is now completed in class. Eliminating lectures from classtime has also opened up a large amount of time for more lab and inquiry based activities.

    Currently we have our podcasts posted at a variety of sties: our websites, iTunes, Google Video, Teacher Tube, classroom computers, and DVDs. Also, the software we use has a link to our work on their website http://www.snapkast.com . We teach in a somewhat rural area and some students do not have access to high-speed internet, so we have accommodated them with flash drives, and those without a computer get a DVD with the podcasts.

    Our vision for the future of our model is that of independent study, individualized education, and inquiry based science education. We are in the process of writing a grant to equip or classrooms with computers so that students can work at their own pace. Ideally, a student would watch the podcast lecture, complete their assignments on the computer using a program like webassign, conduct lab experiments, complete projects, and complete authentic and written assessments all at their own pace. Benchmarks would be in place for students interested in meeting minimum requirements, and advanced topics would be available for students interested in getting ahead. We believe that this model could allow a very gifted student to complete both Chemistry and AP Chemistry in one year.

    Already, we have noticed our new paradigm leading to a better understanding of the content by our students. We are in the process of collecting data to support our anecdotal evidence. Thus far, students are outpreforming students in our calsses who last year were taught using the traditional model of lecture-lab-test. Also, our students like that they can pause their instructor and rewind when necessary. They appreciate that they have individualized attention from their instructor when wrestling through a concept that the don’t understand. Frankly, we believe that this model has the capability to revolutionize science and math instruction, and we want to share this model with as many like-minded colleagues as possible.

    Thank you,

    Jonathan Bergmann
    Woodland Park High School
    Chemistry, AP Chemistry, Instructor
    Home Page: http://www.wpsdk12.org/~jbergmann/Home%20Page

  2. Do you provide written transcriptions of your podcasts for hearing impaired students? I’m a professor who would like to use your site as a resource but needs it to be accessible to all of my students.

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