Category Archives: Pedagogy

Announcement: Some literature on podcasting

Some literature on the use of podcasting in higher education gives you an overview of the advantages of using podcasts for lectures. Some of the data shows that students prefer to listen to podcasts for review rather then for learning new content, as for using them during commute time or down time, research actually shows that students prefer to listen to podcasts sitting at a computer desk. However another study that came out in 2006 suggested that the flexibility of podcasting actually helped students manage their time more efficiently “the ability to replay lectures, and pause lectures” seemed to provide assist students time management concerns. Other advantages as stated by the article suggested that podcasting helped built a ‘sense of involvement with the subject, focus and motivation, a feeling of being part of the class’, ‘provides external students with the same opportunities as internal students’, ability to catch up if you miss an important lecture, ‘hearing additional examples/explanations given in lectures makes it much easier to understand than the ‘dry’ textbook’. ‘They bring subjects alive, allow a lecturer to bring in their own experiences and personality to make subjects more memorable, and bring more humanity to what can be fairly dry material. It can be soul destroying, reading rule upon rule, with no navigator to draw it all together and make it real’”.

See you all June 8th for the podcasting workshop at Bronx Community College !

Painting.  The Kiss. Francesco Hayez. 

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Announcement: Summer Podcasting Workshop 2012

Bronx Community College will host its annual Faculty Development online program which will feature Blackboard training, Web. 2,0 and Podcasting. The podcasting workshop will take place on June 8, 2012. For more information please contact the OIT office

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Using Podcasts and multimedia in a blended Italian elementary course

Bronx Community college’s student population is faced with complex schedules, family TuttiMattiPodcast1_StudentessaMattaobligations and work commitments; consequently, the opportunity to offer online instruction finds an ideal environment for expansion. There are several strategies available in constructing successful online courses to produce mobile learning, especially for the foreign languages curricula and more specifically for Italian language courses. Although online language course offerings have increased, Italian is still falling behind in respect to other subjects offered at a college level. The scarcity of high-quality models to duplicate, lack of visibility and consideration, and academic incentives, make Italian online instruction still a work in progress rather than a consolidated reality. Some of the challenges revolve around which methodologies to implement, the risk of not utilizing the target language as often as required, and an uneasiness to release control of the classroom environment. Successful activities for language acquisition have proven to be blogs and wikis which stimulate interest, student productivity and activate independent reflective work. Podcasts help with pronunciation, listening and comprehension, facilitate the review of classroom material at anytime and anywhere. Difficulties have been observed within the blackboard platform in the use of the Discussion Board feature which in elementary language courses does not provide enough reflective and meaningful writing material due to the limited language skills of a beginners course.

Blackboard, the platform adopted by The City University of New York, supported the creation of the Italian elementary online course. The instructor created a series of didactic-formative activities to place in each of the “buttons” of the Blackboard site, which followed the layout of modules created by the textbook in use.  These included: grammatical sequence, introduction to cultural themes, and vocabulary. Each module (characterized by a separate button), was comprised of grammatical and lexical elements that were correlated with a number of different exercises. Apart from traditional exercises, the platform supported cross-words, instructor-made video podcasts, social networking sites (i.e. twitter), youtube videos, podcasted listening comprehension and dictation exercises, as well as work based on images to promote cultural understanding.Each written module corresponded with an audio file that was inserted in another Blackboard button labeled “Audio & Video” so that students could read and listen simultaneously, allowing for more exposure to pronunciation and to the language in general. The audio files contained in this section were saved as Wav. or Mp3s and students listened to them directly on the blackboard platform without having to download the files into their desktops.  Students were also able to upload the files into their ipods. In an informal survey conducted among students, 40% uploaded the files into their ipods, and 60% listened to them several times during the semester directly on BB. Some students requested personalized audio files of vocabulary from each chapter. The content of the audio files varies from the simple pronunciation of verbs and vocabulary to readings and dictations. The use of the audio elements allows students to listen whenever they please and review lessons at every moment during the day, or before an exam, which is impossible in a traditional classroom. Due to the space limitations of Blackboard, some of the mp3 files are inserted into a free podcast server called PodOmatic, which is linked to the Italian Blackboard site. Through this server students were able to upload the mp3 files into their iPods or mp3 players for the same uses that are mentioned above. Access to audio files is very useful because it allows for custom made learning. Some audio files were recorded to satisfy specific student requests. Surpassing CDs and DVDs, which have become obsolete and non-renewable content, the pedagogical potential of multimedia technology makes it an advantageous choice for foreign language learning. There is another important benefit to using audio applications. In a community college, most students work, have families, and a large number take evening classes.  In order for these students to come to school, they often face long commutes, which is common in large urban areas. Study time is sporadic and scarce, and the use of audio-files allows students to optimize the time they set aside for studying. They can, for example, review a lesson or listen to vocabulary during their “down” time. In a 2008 study by Damon Brewster and Hans von Dietze entitled Introducing Podcasts into Language Teaching, the researches evaluated the advantage for using podcasts in language learning. They found that increasing expose to authentic material will  “help auditory learners, improve reading and writing, increase motivation, provide opportunity for language learning outside of the classroom and broaden its skills” (Damon Brewster and Hans von Dietze, 2008) Both students and instructors can use several programs (such as Audacity and WavePad) to record contents that allow one to record, modify, and edit sound. Audacity is an open source program that converts files into Mp3s by downloading an external component called LAME. Another program by Adobe that was used for podcasts in the Italian course is Adobe Captivate, which was released in 2001. At first glance it appears similar PowerPoint, but this program is more modern and efficient than the Microsoft version. Adobe Captivate allows for the creation of guided presentations, interactive demonstrations, simulations, podcasts, games and lessons. It also considerably compresses files and demonstrations and saves films to dimensions smaller than a traditional video. In teaching Italian, Adobe Captivate was used to create interactive tests. Students were able to choose from a vast series of samples: multiple choice; true and false and short written answers. Professors were able to add background music to these presentations and assign certain duration to tests, the results of which could be sent via email to the professor. The best way to save these presentations is the format SWF Flash drive, a program that is compatible with the Blackboard platform. The main role of all the didactic instruments described up to now is to stimulate students to develop an interest in the course they are taking and also showcase the instructor’s efforts in preparing material for them. The educator becomes a model of what can be done with technology, thereby making these tools more accessible and reproducible for students. The visual aspect of these presentations favors memorization and the learning of pedagogical contents such as grammar or vocabulary. Within Blackboard, the Italian elementary course contains “cultural videos” that facilitate vocabulary building. These videos can be shot with a simple digital camera and later uploaded onto the computer after being formatted with Windows Movie Maker. Topics can vary from short podcasts with information about Italian cities to interviews with local grocery and shop owners.  Students can learn vocabulary pertaining to food, how to order at a restaurant, and how to talk about shopping and money. These podcasts also provide a model since they are short, concise, and can be easily replicated by students as part of their final oral examination for the course. These videos have several functions: vocabulary acquisition, review of grammatical structures, and exposure to information about general culture with the goal of obtaining international and/or global perspectives.This pedagogical approach, which is part of the already cited “content learning” method, also supports the creation of spontaneous language that happens in real situations and within cultural contexts. Linked to this theory is the principle of the Constructive Theory (2001, Williams & Irving), according to which students construct language directly though direct life experience.  “Learners construct their own knowledge by looking for meaning and order; they interpret what they hear, read, and see based on their previous learning and habits. Students who do not have appropriate backgrounds will be unable to accurately “hear” or “see” what is before them.”(Thanasoulas, 2001).

Excerpt (with modifications) from my article published in 2015

Photo credit:

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Podcasting in the Science Courses

As we know students, nowadays, are well versed in various technologies and are seen as easy adapters and quick learners of any technological tools. There is a lot of evidence for using podcasts across the disciplines and, in particular, in science courses. In an engineering course, for example, students were asked to create a short podcast that illustrated real-life application of an engineering projects. In a biology course, students are asked to create a video that explains concepts that otherwise would be hard to understand without visuals (interionaturer organs, cells, etc).There is a great site that gathered all of the best podcasts related to Biological sciences. By some other schools, podcasts are used for discussions with leading scientist and industries and government officials (see the Science and Society Podcasts channel). The chemistry class also makes use of podcasts to support the learning of this subject like giving a chance to listen to the entire lesson in case of absences. Another useful resource for Chemistry is “ChemPod”, geared towards the chemistry community, from interviews with Nobel Prize winners, to discussing topics such as nanotechnology research, organic or surface, chemistry. In all of these fields podcasts are used and implemented with different aims and instead use the class time for discussion and interaction. Recently the journal, New Scientist reported after having done a study on podcast integration and revealed that “New psychological research suggests that university students who download a podcast lecture achieve substantially higher exam results than those who attend the lecture in person.” However to make it all work and be effective faculty have to define their course objectives for using podcasts, and at the same time, realizing that pedagogy must be the driving force behind their integration. Even though podcasts are very popular and accepted in academia, further research is needed to provide answers to questions related to their usefulness in education.




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Flipped Classroom

FCAccording to the definition of the flipped classroom, the traditional class model is reversed. Short videos and podcasts about classroom content are seen or heard by students at home, and class time is instead spent practicing, exercising and discussing. The flipped content is more than “consume, review, repeat”; it is mostly about including and involving a wider range of learning activities. It is important to remember that pedagogy should be the driving force behind the flipped approach –something that can be a very valuable tool for teachers. Therefore, using podcasts and learning how to create them is a plus for those who want to try to experiment with this pedagogical approach. The positive aspect of the FC is that the teaching space becomes a more active place where to practice certain skills and to foster discussion and critical thinking. Some studies even claim that this approach increases motivation and metacognition. Perhaps the most popular example of videos has been done by the Khan Academy which shows that math learning happens more efficiently if ideas are presented in a number of different ways.

The goal is not too make these podcasts too long (max 10 min) since students have short attention span. Long videocasts create the opposite effect and are not conducive to learning. Some faculty lament that presenting information only via vlogs can have drawbacks. One of them is that the teacher can’t get direct feedback when teaching in the classroom; another is that it can create a digital divide. This year, at BCC, we will test this approach in our summer development workshop, and I will write more about it in the Fall.

Resources: (tool for podcasting with Ipad) (to create questions by video)


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Podcasts in film class — Pedagogically Speaking

This year in my Italian film class which is taught fully online at the School of Professional Studies (CUNY), I decided to have students create an assignment in which they had to deconstruct a movie scene from a technical point of view. The delivery however was not via paper, but via podcast. The main topics of this homework were: use of light and color, characters, point of view, camera takes and framing, etc. I also provided students with an explanation of why I had them do this assignment in this way, I think it is important to inform them that we use technology purposefully inside the classroom. Here is what I wrote on the HMK page on my Eportfolio.

“In this course I am asking students to create two podcasts, or audio files. One is a technical analysis of a movie, one is a reflection over the course and what they learned about Italian cinema. I could have students carry on this task in a written form, but I believe there is value in also promoting oral skills. In the United States, in general, most assignments are written and, during their academic careers, students hardly get a chance to practice oral argumentation. In California’s public university system this practice has now become part of the academic curriculum, and I share and endorse this pedagogical approach. When you speak orally you muster in small time frame several skills: enunciation, precision, intonation, clarity, persuasion and articulation. And most of the time you get to do it only once, and if your speech is inarticulate, it is immediately evident to the listener. When discussing a topic, simply by agreeing or disagreeing, students get a deeper understanding of an issue. In addition, listening to other students speak will create more stimulation to create responses, more engagement and eagerness to do the assignment, and by default create a community of learners. In this course, I want to provide students with the opportunity to practice formal speaking, a necessary skill which is vitalin the workplace — some of the work required by future employers, for example, might take place via skype or conference call or involve a presentation in front of potential clients.”

This is the work created by students which is posted on their ePortfolio platform by DIGICATION.

L\’avventura (Antonioni)

Sergio Leone

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Podcasting Resources

Bronx Community College Faculty will have at their disposal several podcasting resources on the CUNY Commons site: rubrics, tutorials, copyright information, faculty examples,  and spaces such as wikis, blogs, twitter and facebook. A Blackboard site has also been created and 12 faculty members will be able to share their work and progress among each other throughout the summer. The podcasting program ends in January and they will be ready to deliver their podcasting integrated courses in Spring 2012. We start on June 13th ! (check out our website !)

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The Added Value of Teaching with Technology

In the last 10 days I participated at two technology conferences. One was about ePortfolios (AAEEBL) and one was about blended learning (Sloan C). At the first presentation I went with a colleague of mine, Dr. Kate Culkin. Both she and I presented separate powerpoint presentations in which we discussed how we were able to successfully integrate podcasting in teaching history and foreign languages. We both addressed the added value or using ePortfolios & Podcasting in our respective classes and how this has improved students’ learning. Dr. Culkin’s presentation argued how significant the use of podcasting has been in making students feel and act like public historians. Moreover, the other important point emphasized is that students were allowed to reflect about who acquires the right to talk about history and who is allowed to write it. Podcasts were presented which showed how the activities assigned to students allowed them to think in depth about the historical process.

My presentation discussed how valuable podcasting production is for foreign language teaching, in terms of improving oral and aural proficiencies. Furthermore, I provided concrete evidence of how the learning objectives, as well as the Gen Edu objectives, are aligned with the technology used. I showed the work of my students discussing topics that range from slow food vs fast food, personal narratives, recipes,  etc. The AAEEBL provides a resource page with some of the presentation offered at the conference, if interested; you can consult their website,

What are in conclusion the added values of ePortfolio & Podcasting?

  • Learn how to communicate in public about educational content
  • Keep track of progress overtime (ePortfolio does not go away, unlike Blackboard)
  • Be able to share information, knowledge with a community of learners
  • Decentralize learning which no longer comes exclusively from the teacher
  • Share resources among other sections of the same class.
  • Increase interest for subject matter: students are more willing to do the assignments if the class is more engaging.


At the Eporfolio conference we learned what other colleagues are doing and how ePortfolios can be used, from language placement (having high schools produce language artifacts as evidence of proficiencies), to open source ePorfolios such as WordPress and Mahara. We also learned about instruments and analytics used for assessment such as Pearson LearningStudio’s ePortfolio.

At the 8th Annual Sloan-C conference I met several people who are interested in making a difference in students’ education and listened to a very thought-provoking presentation from the keynote speaker, Josh Jarret (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) at the plenary address. Just as an aside — there were aspects about Jarret’s presentation that made me jump out from my chair. No one dares to address the fact that all of us (especially the top 1% of the richest people in America) should start to think about paying more taxes to fund public education (like Canada and Europe) if you want public universities and schools to be affordable for students. This is another topic for another day, but I believe that this is a big issue in the United States that no one wants to address. The panel which I enjoyed the most was “Social Media to Facilitate Community Building Engagement”. I reported some of the ideas we could implement to the director of OIT, since our college is moving along a proposal for an online degree. I take away the idea of how to better integrate social media (Facebook and Twitter) in the classroom and consult more often the following resources: Teacher youtube channel, TED/ED, Edu-Tastic which I gladly share with the CUNY Commons Community. I learned that you can send tweets as a text message, publish photos and use podcasting ,etc. Check it out,

The principal philosophy about using technology in the classroom is that pedagogy should drive the technology and not vice-versa. I heard Dr. Picciano drive home this point at the conference in Chicago during one of the plenary sessions. This type of conceptual rationale is somewhat lacking and it should be more visible in technology-based panels — ideally it should become the starting point of such conversations. Most of the social media session I attended did not sufficiently address this issue in detail, perhaps since the people speaking were not faculty members but for the most part administrators. I would like to offer some good reading on this topic to gain some perspective on this important issue, article I “Pedagogy-Based Technology Training” and article II, “At the Intersection of Technology and Pedagogy: Considering Styles of Learning and Teaching”, I look forward to more conferences. A presto ! Ciao!

Photo — Caravaggio (1571 – 1610) Bacchus.

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Podcasting 360

Podcasting and Foreign Languages is a marriage made in heaven. The reasons are easy to understand and assess. All the resources below are applicable to any discipline.

Class Pedagogy and Methodology

The current methodology calls for the target language (L2) to be spoken at all times to allow students to learn the language inductively, through repetitions and drills.

Challenge: time constraints, the class only meets twice a week and it doesn’t allow for a consistent exposure to the language.

The Solution: create a series of podcasts to extend the exposure of the language 24/7. Students can listen and review on their own time and maximize language exposure. Podcasts also create motivation and interest for subject.

The implementation: I created for all of the Italian sections at BCC a podcasting hosting site through  the ePortfolio digication platform. I sent the link to all of the part-time instructors that teach Italian at my college, for a total of 14 sections per semester (SP 11)

Advantage: it allows me to share all of my work with all students who take Italian, not just the ones that take my sections.

Organization of site: rationale for general assessment:

Criteria for podcasting evaluation,

Italian language podcasts available on the web: from youtube to teachertube and Vimeo, etc.

Division of podcasts for level (Italian 11 and 12). A combination of audio, video and tutorials. You can see some examples on my eportfolio.

Software to create podcasts, and screencasts that I currently use and that are fee on the web are. These are my recommendation based on personal use:

Jing – allows for storage and to share and embed links, but you can only record  for a total of 5 minutes

Sketchcast:an easy tool that you and your students can use. It is not so intuitive to use at first, ok quality of the podcasts produced. A good starting tool.  

Audacity: free, easy to use, high quality recording, only small problem you have be download a separate file and embed it into the program to create mp3 files.

Camstudio: produces good quality video podcasts, but if you make a mistake you have to do the whole things over. Does not allow you to edit the audio.

Windows MovieMaker: good quality videos with narration, you can record directly within the program, but if you want to transform ppp presentations into a movie you first have to take a photo of each slide. Only allows for one track for sound.

Show Beyond: a nice way to add narrations to your photos or documents. Very good quality, you can also add captions and audio to each photo. Perfect tool to allow students to create their own podcasts.

Photo: Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1527-1593), Vertumnus, a portrait of Rudolf II.

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Podcasting Workshop March 16

Date: Wednesday, March 16 Title:

 The Pedagogy of Podcasting: Building Stronger Connections Location: New Hall Room 23 Time: 4-5:50 pm Instructor: Giulia Guarnieri Description: This workshop will provide insight into the pedagogy of podcasts, (audio/video/screencasts), and will help you successfully plan for integration into your courses. You will also learn how podcasting is being used by other BCC colleagues. A portion of the workshop will be dedicated to discussion and questions about best pedagogical strategies. No prerequisite. No previous experience with podcasting is required.


A. Modigliani – Jeanne Hebuterne in a Yellow Sweater (1918-19)

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