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The Impact of Audio Technology on Undergraduate Instruction in a Study Abroad Course on English Gardens

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Abstract:

This study investigated the effectiveness of audio podcasts as a means of disseminating course content to students in informal learning environments like public gardens and parks. The investigation was organized into three major areas: (a) student's utilization of audio podcasts; (b) the effects of audio podcast on knowledge gain; and (c) students' perceptions of audio podcasts.

Twenty-two undergraduate students participated in a 21-day study abroad course on the history of the English landscape, garden design, and horticulture. This course included instruction in both the classroom and on-site at public garden locations throughout southern England. All 22 students were
provided with two to four pages of written text describing key historic and horticultural information regarding 12 English gardens. Instructional audio narratives for iPod of 20-30 minute duration were developed for each of the 12 historic gardens.Written exam scores differed little between audio users and non-users. However, students with the audio narratives scored significantly higher on two of the three oral exams. Rather than multiple choice questions as
in the written exams, the oral exams utilized more open-ended questions that required the students to integrate course content in order to demonstrate a higher level of overall meaning. In a subsequent survey, the audio users expressed positive reactions to this learning technology, and these reactions, together with the positive learning outcomes, suggest that audio can enhance teaching effectiveness in informal learning environments like public gardens and parks.

 

Keywords:

audio technology in study abroad course, English gardens, podcasts, effect of podcast in student knowledge

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