Bioneers 2008: Mark Sommer Creates Educasts for Mobile Learning

During a speech by Kenny Ausubel at Bioneers, the future of the conference was discussed, including ways to spread the word about environmental education.

Mentioned as one way forward for Bioneers is creating an educast, or a mobile way of getting educational lectures out to people who want to learn - from students at universities to participants in non-profit organizations.

Mark Sommer is the Executive Director of the Educasting project, and with his history in the media, including the Mainstream Media Project, I knew this quick mention about educasting was worth looking into.

Turns out, it is a very cool hybrid between a radio program and an educational lecture, that basically puts a class course on your iPod. But it doesn't stop at just talk. An Educast is a collection of A World of Possibilities radio shows that are "educasted" by adding in narrative of educational information related to the subjects covered on the shows. They're put in digital format so they're accessible to basically anyone who wants to listen, without the need for a special reader.

Yet what differentiates them from just another podcast is that they can be modified to be used as a classroom or training tool:

Modifications can be made to adapt the content and materials to different kinds of users (e.g. business, academia, civic groups, social movements, etc). Aided by the study guides, educators will be able to use Educasting materials to provide students with accurate, engaging, and user-friendly supplements to their lectures and print materials. NGOs and civic groups will be encouraged to use the materials to build awareness and spur action among their memberships and audiences.

The Educast Project feels that this kind of educational format can eventually replace textbooks in universities because of their low cost and versitility. That would be a whole lot of trees saved. And unlike textbooks, an educast can be edited to include new information as it becomes available, whereas a textbook would need to be revised, reprinted, redistributed, and repurchased. It's a green way to learn about green issues.

The Educasting package consists of some or all of the following elements:

* Audio component: Re-edited and re-produced A World of Possibilities radio shows for use as a long-term educational resource and social marketing tool. (Other audio and/or video shows can also be educast.)
* Visual component: CD inserts or sleeves tailored to specific audiences for marketing or instructional purposes
* Interactive study guide: Discussion questions and exercises along with a select list of additional audio, print and video resources on the topics and projects featured in the audio series.
* Website (www.educasting.org): Features audio links, downloadable discussion materials, study guides, additional audio (full-length interviews, etc.), print and video resources, (research, white papers, essays, etc.), links to other organizations, and opportunities to engage in blogging and other online activities.
* Training component (optional): Online or printed guide for instructors or end-users suggesting best practices for getting the most out of the Educasting package.

Educasting is a forward-thinking format for learning, and there are already some interesting subjects available, including:

Food, Sustainability, and Society II
Food, Sustainability, and Society I
Peoples of the West and the Muslim World
Collaborative and Community Leadership
California Education Reform

More on Digital Education:
Digital Textbooks from Zinio
Dematerializing School: Green Learning
How to Go Green: School Teachers
More on Bioneers 2008:
Bioneers 2008: How to Use Digital Media for Environmental Activism - Advice from the Experts
Bioneers 2008: High Tech High Students Creating Our Future
Bioneers 2008: Familiar Faces – Interface Carpets, WiserEarth, Nepalese Paper and More
Bioneers 2008: Opening Speech by Kenny Ausubel
Bioneers 2008: Nature and Technology Joining Forces
Bioneers 2008: A Green Conference Standard
Bioneers 2008: Solar-Powered Water Fountain a Great DIY Project

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