The Power of iTunes U

» Posted by Jeanne Meister  » Posted on 02.27.09


Research is starting to show that students who listen to lectures on podcasts are showing high retention rates. This finding was reported in ReadWriteWeb and was uncovered after conducting research involving a test sample and a control sample of students.

According to Dani McKinney, a psychologist at the State University of New York in Fredonia, students are learning more by listening to podcasts of lectures than going to class.

To find out how much students can learn from a podcast, McKinney’s team created a podcast from an introductory psychology lecture course. The podcast contained both audio and video of the slides used in class.

Here’s how the research was conducted: Half the students (32 of 64) skipped the class and listened to the podcast only. The other half attended the class in person where they also received a printed handout. A week later, the students were tested on the material. The Podcast listeners did better than those who were in the class and those students who did both: listened to podcast and attended the class achieved the highest scores.

While this is only introductory research, involving one single lecture and conducted among a sample of volunteer students who received an iTunes gift card of $15 for their participation, it does say a lot about how Millennials want to learn- on their own time, in nuggets with the ability to “play back” a section of a lecture they may not have understood the first time.

This notion of listen once and play back multiple times is an important part of learning that is often overlooked. What’s interesting to me is that similar studes are being conducted in corporate learning departments using mobile smart phones to deliver training and performance support. The results are similar: learners who can “control” when, how and where they learn and use a portable/wearable device have higher completion and retention rates.

Are you experimenting with new ways to deliver learning and performance support? If so, share your lessons here or send me an email.

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  1. E Shaffer, March 25, 2009:

    My parents gave me a tape recorder in high school. [ 1960 ] I would record class or read into it and play it back with head phones when I went to bed. I belive that this effort worked to improve my grades.

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