Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community
OK, I appreciate the scientific research process, I really do, though I am always leery of attempts to find the 'best' method for doing something (because any empiricist will have discovered long ago that what counts as 'best' varies dramatically according to circumstances). But this article really stretches my appreciation as the authors progress through not one but three separate pilot trials before discovering (ta da!) podcasting (specifically, using MP3 and RSS to syndicate audio). The 'Acquisitions Solutions' part was the (ahem) silliest, as the authors describe wiring the room's microphone system into the iPod to produce audio of "extremely poor quality and almost useless." It does not appear to have occurred to the experimenters to try other devices, such as an iRiver or even a cheap $29.95 MP3 recorder in an instructor's pocket (which might actually have done the job). What bothers me is that what this experimentation shows most of all is that the designers, committed though they were to empirical science, did not do any background reading on the subject, but rather relied on their own intuition and instinct (and on 'focus groups' of students that eventually led them to podcasting). The authors' assertion that "formative evaluation strategies helped identify a solution to a learning dilemma" is emphatically not proven in this instance. More from the current issue of EDUCAUSE Quarterly, now available.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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Last Updated: Sept 28, 2023 1:03 p.m.

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