Tag Archives: isolation

Can Podcasting Play a Role in e-Learning? Part 2

The Action Research Series 02


This is the second blog post for the same action research project. See here for part 1. The survey investigated following two research questions:

What are the characteristics of student created educationally beneficial podcasts?

Could podcasting be one component in a course to reduce feelings of isolation in e-Learning?

This reflective blog will focus only on the use of podcasting as a media to reduce feelings of isolation.

Since the development of distance learning in higher education, a common problem has been a lack of social interaction among students and instructors and the resultant student feelings of isolation. McGettigan (1999) spoke of the need to reduce the isolative barrier that makes some students feel like second rate students; a course of action being instructor training in the use of information communication technologies. Lee and Chan (2007) that podcasting has potential to be one element used to reduce feelings of isolation and studies have shown students’ positive reactions towards building online learning/social communities who interact and engage (Croft, Dalton, & Grant, 2010; McInnerney & Roberts, 2004). It is my hypothesis that podcasting could be used as an engaging medium in which students actively interact with the course material, instructor(s) and students.

From the respondents (n=11), 64% felt that misunderstandings in communication and a lack of social contact and academic engagement with students and instructors contribute to feelings of isolation. Full-time or part-time employment was also considered a factor by 54%. However, only four indicated they had felt feelings of isolation during their e-Learning. These four respondents confirmed the above elements as factors but also generally responded that lack of university support, technical difficulties, poor structure of e-Learning and that students’ lack of experience with e-Learning could contribute towards feelings of isolation.

One hypothesis was that the text-based environment of typical e-Learning courses may have an impact on students’ feelings; a “death by document” that is commonly associated with a monoculture of text readings, text support and text communication (Sutton-Brady, Scott, Taylor, Carabetta, & Clark, 2009). However ten of the eleven respondents disagreed with this evaluative statement.

One respondent gave extensive feedback in the open-ended additional comments section which may summarise the results. As an educator, this respondent identifies that podcasting may have potential to be one beneficial medium through which to complete study and to diversify the learning experience through a different learning style. However, from a student’s perspective, some may experience podcasts as being uncomfortable or in a contrived way to interact synchronously online.

To decrease students’ feelings of isolation in e-Learning, podcasting may be one feature. Whilst these views are not indicative of all students, they do add to our understanding and can be used to guide further research.

My gratitude to those eleven who took my survey. Thank you.

Blogged Originally: October 8, 2011 http://www.digitalemerge.net/#/podcasting-in-e-learning-2/4556152588

Last Updated: October 8, 2011


Croft, N., Dalton, A., & Grant, M. (2010). Overcoming Isolation in Distance Learning: Building a Learning Community through Time and Space. Journal for Education in the Built Environment, 5(1), 27-64.

Holmes, B., & Gardner, J. (2006). e-Learning: Concepts and Practice. London: SAGE Publications.

Lee, M. J. W., & Chan, A. (2007). Reducing the effects of isolation and promoting inclusivity for distance learners through podcasting. Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education, 8(1), 85-104.

McGettigan, T. (1999). Virtually Educated: Student Perspectives on the Distance Learning Experience. Radical Pedagogy, 1(2).

McInnerney, J. M., & Roberts, T. S. (2004). Online Learning: Social Interaction and the Creation of a Sense of Community. Educational Technology & Society, 7(3), 73-81.

Sutton-Brady, C., Scott, K. M., Taylor, L., Carabetta, G., & Clark, S. (2009). The value of using short-format podcasts to enhance learning and teaching. ALT-J, 17(3), 219-232.

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