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IPT: Why podcast it?

posted Jun 3, 2009, 5:47 AM by Eddie Woo
This morning, you'll be completing your answers to last lesson's questions about decision support systems, and then recording your responses with our new class set of MP3 players.

I realised after last lesson that some of you are wondering why I'm asking you to create a podcast based on your answers. Why not just type them up? Well, here are a jumble of my thoughts in response to that question:
  1. Variety is beneficial. You guys have typed up answers to hundreds of questions that I've posed to you within the scope of this course. Being forced to compose and present your thoughts in another medium (which requires significantly different skills to use well) is a helpful balance to that domination of written (typed, really) responses.

  2. A merciless medium. When I write sentences, I often find myself expressing ideas inefficiently (I take more words than is necessary) and ineffectively (I use words that are weak in conveying meaning). The main problem with is that, unless I go through a rigorous peer-assisted editing process, I don't really notice my inefficiency or ineffectiveness. The words are there, they look good on the page, and I'm satisfied. But when I open my mouth to speak, I know when what I'm saying sounds stupid. I know when the sentences I'm putting together make no sense. And so do you! Speaking your answers will force you to make them better.

  3. An important skill. I think it's really important for (a) me to teach and (b) you to learn how to be a strong communicator. One of the main characteristics of good communicators is their mastery over numerous means of communications, particularly ones that require divergent skill sets. Good communicators aren't just good writers; they are good illustrators. Good communicators aren't just good with hand gestures; they are good with vocal cues. The best way to develop any ability is to start using what you have already.

  4. It forces deeper understanding. You only need a very superficial grasp of a topic to write convincingly about it. Skim a source here, copy and re-word a source there, and you can compose a very impressive-looking paragraph that uses all the correct terminology and seems to indicate that you know what you're on about. By contrast, it is relatively easy to tell when someone doesn't truly understand something while they are talking about it. What they say will come out (a) confused and stilted ("so then there's the... ummm.. thing... you know, the thing with the thing?"), or (b) artificial and lacking appropriate vocal emphasis (as in the case of someone reading out a response that they don't really understand). If you want to speak about something naturally and knowledgeably, you really need to grok the concepts that you're discussing and describing.
Okay, so there's a few to start you off. Can you think of any more? (That's a genuine question. And I'm looking for real reasons, not just "MP3 players are cool, yo" type reasons.)
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