A Reappropriation of Propaganda

a single microphone

Key Features

Podcasts are downloadable multimedia (audio or video) digital files made regularly for listeners. Anyone with a microphone and internet connection has the ability to make a podcast but Propaganda is software that easily produces quality podcasts. The biggest feature of Propaganda is the timeline which is intuitive and beneficial for extra quality productions. The layout of the panels ensures users can organise their clips and users can edit the sound levels, include transitions, add background effects or music, and split and edit clips. For pair or group projects, each clip can be labeled systematically so that multiple users can record and add clips into a single Propaganda file. When exporting, users can choose to save as an mp3 or upload directly to a website via FTP.

In 2010, it was reported that 45% or over 12 million American adults have watched or listened to a podcast (Webster, 2010) and it is estimated that between 34,000 – 100,000 people make podcasts to make their voice heard (Mahalo, n.d.). Very few people actually make them and in the academic world, I imagine that very few podcasts are student-made and it is professors who are posting lecture podcasts online.

Potential & Recommendation

Podcasts do offer agency to the user so teachers must decide with whom they want the agency to lie: teachers or students. Lazzari (2009) reports that students have competitive agency when they produce podcasts in higher education classes as they work harder towards producing podcasts that are perceivably better than their peers. It was also reported that students were engaged in and encouraged by podcasting and this resulted in social-constructivist learning as students effectively became teachers and their zone of proximal development was increased (Vygotsky, 1978).

These signs are certainly encouraging to the integration of podcasts projects but giving students free production reign, as Costello (2009) states in his theory of transactional control and argued above, is worthless without knowledge of how to use it.

Propaganda is only software and teachers must reflect carefully on the substance of a podcast; a podcast with weak content in terms of structure, organization and development is weak no matter the quality of the podcast (Keery, 2011). Therefore, making podcasts is not necessarily so far removed from the traditional written essay as the podcast still needs in-depth research and a script that is structured, organized and developed. From a social-constructivist viewpoint, listening to one podcast from a lecturer is limiting. Listening and experiencing a number of students’ podcasts will give more diverse opinions and information with which to make connections, reach unique conclusions, reformulate their knowledge, and reflect (Gould, 2005).

Costello, E. (2009, 27-28 August). Teaching and Participatory Media. Paper presented at the Fifth International Conference of the All-Ireland Society for Higher Education, Maynooth, Ireland.

Gould, J. S. (2005). A Constructivist Perspective on Teaching and Learning in the Language Arts In Constructivism: Theory, Perspectives, and Practice. New York: Teachers College Press.

Keery, P. (2011, April 5). Good-bye Essay, Hello Podcast. Retrieved September 02, 2011 from http://dialogueonline.ca/goodbye-essay-hello-podcast-new-literacies-21st-century-skills-1482/1482/

Lazzari, M. (2009). Creative use of podcasting in higher education and its effect on competitive agency. Computer & Education, 52(1), 1-13.

Mahalo (n.d.). How many podcasts are in iTunes? Retrieved September 8, 2011 from http://www.mahalo.com/answers/how-many-podcasts-are-in-apple-itunes

Vygotsky, L. (1978). Mind in Society: The Development of Higher Psychological Processes. Cambrdige, MA: Harvard University Press.

Webster, T. (2010, December 13). The current state of podcasting. Retrieved September 8, 2011 from http://www.podcastingnews.com/content/2010/12/edison-state-of-podcasting-2010/

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