Technology Versus Education: Improving Learning with Podcasts

Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.

Be honest. How many of you are able to open up a physical book and start reading the dense and complex texts without any difficulty? Let alone reading a book, how many have even touched a book in general? We’ve all deceived ourselves, pretending that we will accomplish our goal of finishing a novel in our free time; I’ve been there, done that. To be realistic, the only time we read a text is when it is required, especially as students. In addition to the fact that reading has never been my forte, most educational texts are not necessarily the most interesting for students. However, there are many tools we can turn towards to help along the way. As the progressive world of technology continues to be implemented into education, podcasts are popularly used within a classroom setting. Michael Godsey, a high school teacher who has experience in guiding other English Language Art teachers, emphasizes in “The Value of Using Podcasts in Class,” on how podcasts help enhance the comprehension of students, motivating them to focus and engage even more with the material. While Godsey argues how the use of podcasts are beneficial to the overall understanding of texts, his inconsistent use of qualified evidence eventually harms his attempt to effectively persuade his audience.

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It is more and more common for schools to implement technology as a helping tool for students along the way. Godsey asserts the idea that the popularity of podcasts are continuing to grow exponentially in correlation with the implementation of the medium in educational systems. He concludes that the reason podcasts are growing in popularity is because more and more students enjoy using them. Inputting statistical evidence to support his claim, he states that “one in five Americans listened to a podcast in the last month” (Godsey 2). Although it can be viewed in a positive light, Godsey fails to include the fact that the data is based off an unrepresentative sample. Taken from Edison Research’s study, Infinite Dial 2016, the statistic was sampled from a group of Americans, twelve and up, from 2001. Since 2001, the world of technology has developed immensely as it has been introduced into everyone’s daily routine. The increased complexity of technology comes with its benefits and potential dangers which causes a split opinion on the use of technology as a tool for education. The research dates back many years and would not be an accurate representation of the views today. As the statistic covers the opinions of the general American public without specifying whether or not it is of high school students, it is inappropriate to conclude the data to be about them in general. Godsey is wrongly assuming that since the popularity of podcasts is increasing, it is also “catching on in other classrooms across the country.” The evidence provided does not mention anything involving the utilization of podcasts during class lessons. Without valid inferences and consideration of the potential change in opinions, Godsey attempts to use the statistic to his advantage but ends up harming his overall claim.

To further support his argument, Godsey includes a variety of personal anecdotes about his experience as a high school teacher. We are moving from the traditional methods of learning by incorporating materials that are online and easily accessible. Students tend to turn towards their technological devices as it is more efficient and can help with the learning process. Godsey “discovered [that his] students voluntarily [read]... [and] were inspired by an unlikely medium —podcasts—” (Godsey 1). He states that typically people turn towards podcasts because they do not have enough time on their hands to read a physical book assuming that not many use podcasts as a tool to help the comprehension of texts. His diction creates a tone of shock, as if it is unusual for people to use podcast for reasons other than not having the time. A quick survey demonstrated how Godsey’s students “like reading and simultaneously listening to podcasts even more” (Godsey 2). The majority prefer podcasts over simply reading a book or listening to an audio. However, through presenting his experiences, Godsey only shows the opinion of his own students. By mentioning his observations, he asserts positive opinions on podcasts assuming that the readers, who may be future teachers looking for advice, may not hold the same perspective on implementing podcasts. Godsey does not seem to direct his argument towards possibly older teachers who like traditional methods of reading as he mostly compares podcasts to audiobooks, another technological tool. He is assuming that the majority of his audience are younger teachers who may be willing to use technology to teach and attempting to persuade them by stating how helpful it has been for him. The included evidence encompasses the biased views of Godsey and his students. In addition, he does not mention any possible arguments that contradict his claim, which affects his reliability. There are many different methods of learning and studying that work for different students. Podcasts may not be as useful as Godsey states for everyone.

Again, Godsey uses his own experience and by comparing audiobooks to podcasts, he draws a conclusion that “audiobooks, too, seem to fall short of the podcast’s value in the classroom…” (Godsey 5). Godsey continued to notice the increased focus of his students while listening to the podcast and following along the text. Arguing that podcasts are a great example of online tools that students can utilize to enhance their understanding, Godsey refers to a study by Emma Rodero, back in 2012. He briefly states that the study demonstrated how a “story told through dialogue ‘stimulates listeners’ attention’ more than a traditional narration.” By merely dropping in a study, Godsey hopes to persuade his audience to believe that podcasts are beneficial to the learning of high school students. Failure to explain “Rodero’s study” allows the reader to question the validity of the research and how it may accurately support his claim. Additionally, Godsey does not explain how the analysis, from the study, backs up the idea the audiobooks contain only “traditional narration[s]” that are not as engaging as podcasts. He is not comparing the two enough to be sufficient in proving that podcasts are the most effective for students. Instead, he shifted his focus straight onto podcasts. As a result, he is not actually showing that his students are unmotivated while listening to audiobooks. Godsey is steadfast in his belief that audiobooks are not as stimulating as podcasts as they leave space for students to mentally wander off. His use of anecdotes limits his argument that podcasts are the best medium for students when learning in class overall, as it only represents his own students.

After analyzing Godsey’s claims and his specific use of evidence, his argument was not fully and accurately supported, which impacted his attempt to persuade his audience of potential teachers and students. Godsey does explain how podcasts provide not only an audio but also a transcript for students to follow along, allowing the use of auditory and visual senses to enhance their focus. The inclusion of anecdotes were used to paint a picture for the reader, demonstrating the effectiveness of podcasts, but failure to provide acknowledgment that it is an unrepresentative conclusion for all high school students, weakened the reliability. The overwhelming use of statistics and research studies also impacted his argument negatively as his attempt to use logos harmed his credibility. By dropping research names without proper explanation, Godsey provided the readers with just a brief analysis that supported his claim, disregarding the aspects that would negatively impact his argument. He fails to touch upon the fact that most of the research he refers to are not up to date nor representative of the high school student population. Ultimately, his use of biased evidence weakened his overall argument that podcasts are effectively helping students with the underlying notion to gradually implement podcasts into the educational system even more.       

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