The ‘Double Life’ of an iPod – A case study of educational potentials of new technologies

Professor Gilly Salmon

Professor Gilly Salmon joined the University of Leicester in the UK in 2004 as Professor of E-learning & Learning Technologies, after fifteen years with the Open University Business School. She is also Visiting Professor at Caledonian Business School. Gilly has research degrees in online training and in change in education. She is known internationally for her research and practice in the arenas of development and change for creating engaged and successful e-learning processes, as well as for her many articles and commentaries about the future for learning technologies.


Dr. Palitha Edirisingha

Dr. Palitha Edirisingha is a Lecturer in e-Learning at the Beyond Distance Research Alliance (BERA), University of Leicester, UK. He is involved in a number of research and implementation projects that support the University’s e-learning strategy based on both VLEs and mobile learning technologies. Prior to joining Leicester, he led a three-year research project at Kingston University (UK) that investigated e-learning’s potential to improve participation in higher education by students from diverse economic, social, and cultural backgrounds, and to improve undergraduate students’ approaches to learning and studying.



The IMPALA Experience


We saw the students in the park, we saw them on the bus, we saw them in the café…what were they doing? Listening to their mp3 players! We wondered if they would be willing to listen for learning. What a thought! Podcasting and mp3 players are new to education, yet these devices are widely used by university students. Could they be integrated into higher education?


First the Pod Pilot: We called it ‘Profcasting’. One of the professors at Leicester tried out a weekly motivating and updating podcast integrated into his VLE-based course; he used it to give feedforward and feedback to his students. We found out that students are able to tell the difference between the profcasting and their music. They were motivated by it, they worked together, they listened repeatedly, and they came back for the next one


IMPALA came bouncing into our lives.


Informal Mobile Podcasting and Learning Adaptation (IMPALA) investigates the impact of Podcasting on student learning and – most importantly- how the beneficial effects can be enhanced, whilst trying to avoid staff burn-out! IMPALA is creating a new, simple framework that is being transferred to many different contexts. It’s extending the pilot based on the simple framework, integration, and blend, and we are researching the impact on our student and their learning. We’re ready to share…and will tell all in our workshop. Mp3 players optional.


Podcast Workshop


In their workshop and presentation at ONLINE EDUCA BERLIN, Professor Gilly Salmon and Dr. Palitha Edirisingha will explain IMPALA, a case study conducted at the University of Leicester, to examine the learning opportunities offered by technological developments in the infotainment world. IMPALA explores how a ‘peripheral technology’ such as mp3 files, originally intended for entertainment and business, can become a ‘core technology’ and be integrated into mainstream institutional learning technology.


The research is rooted in a four-quadrant framework supporting institutional implementation of e-learning (Salmon, 2005). The framework offers higher education institutions a strategic approach for institution-wide adoption of e-learning taking account of both core and peripheral technologies to both serve existing student populations and to reach new markets. Core technologies include VLEs and electronic services offered by libraries, while peripheral technologies are mostly mobile technologies (e.g., smart phones, mp3 players) widely used for business and entertainment.


The project aims to chart how such technologies acquire a ‘double life’ and the factors that encourage and hamper such a transformation of learning technologies. The presentation describes the pedagogical approach taken to deliver a second- and third-year undergraduate module in Electrical Engineering using both core and peripheral technologies and offers findings on student learning experience. The module to be discussed is Optical Fibre Communications, which was taught for many years using conventional face-to-face methods. It is now delivered online with VLE-based delivery and interactions, supported by podcasts and e-tivities based on Salmon’s five-stage model.


Use of e-tivities based on the five-stage model is comparatively less common in on-campus undergraduate teaching compared to its wider use in other educational and professional settings. The current research aims to uncover its potential use in undergraduate teaching. Student learning experience was captured through personal interviews, end-of-term focus groups, and a questionnaire-based survey.


Specific questions were asked in relation to student engagement with podcasts and e-tivities, both of which are new to the majority of undergraduate students. The presentation, based on the research findings, will outline an emerging transferable, testable pedagogical model of enhancing the educational capabilities of current VLEs through the integration of new forms of delivery – such as podcasting, and student collaboration through structured e-tivities – to enhance students learning experience.


Bounce along to for more.

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