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Using Social Media in E-Learning, Part II: Podcasts & Mobile

The advent and burgeoning sophistication of mobile technologies has opened a space for passive learning to take place anywhere, any time. Consider your commute time, where radio has long been our companion. Mobile apps like Swell fly in the face of traditional, terrestrial radio by allowing the user to listen to content they want to hear. New developments in technology that integrate the mobile experience into your car (smart device, auxiliary cables, Bluetooth device pairing) make these apps viable. 

Although I am new to the formal study of E-Learning (I just started my Master’s program in Learning Technologies), the strategy employed by Swell’s creators seems to share traits with the backward design model.  This model states that the best way to instruct is to first evaluate what the learner wants to learn and then plan instructional design accordingly.

The compatibility of this model with enhanced mobile capability portends great opportunities for instructional designers. Supplementary audio content designed in small chunks for consuming on the go (i.e. driving, riding the bus or going for a jog) can be used to reinforce key concepts covered in formal learning settings. Audio is suited for consuming content on the go because it only demands the attention of one of your senses.

AudioToEar imageHearkening back to my previous blog post about incorporating Twitter into E-Learning, how can social media effectively tie everything together? The instructor could create several podcasts (in shorter consumable chunks) and put them into an audio-sharing service like Soundcloud. Then, he/she could use this material to engage students in a series of conversations around the topics contained in each podcast by sending links to them via Twitter. In this way the instructor leverages social media to reinforce key points of the original formal learning experience.

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