Gathering authentic data during an investigation is an important part of learning in the science classroom. Consider a classroom in which students are determining the properties of an unknown substance. Recording notes using a digital audio recorder, tape recorder*, MP3 player, or computer allows students to capture thoughts and observations in real time that can be used to supplement notes. The recorded investigation notes can be used to facilitate a peer review of data for an added level of reflection and review.
Consider a class on a field trip investigating an ecosystem. Recording field notes in audio format allows for a robust variety of data, including the sounds present in the ecosystem. Enabling a student to create a real-time narrative of the experience allows the student to take more detailed notes on observations upon returning to the classroom.
Using digital audio to record field notes or experimental observations can supplement or precede written notes. Podcasting observations throughout the course of an experiment allows another level of reflection on the experience. For any experiment that involves sound (examining how the length of a vibrating string affects pitch, for instance), using digital audio recording improves the quality of observation.
Using video or still pictures in podcasts gives instructors another flexible and robust way to distribute material for observation and investigation to students. For instance, an instructor could supply students with video of a chemical reaction that would be too dangerous for students to observe directly or photographs of events in remote locations with an accompanying audio description. While nothing can take the place of direct experience in the science classroom, podcasting offers many ways to supplement the students' experience.
* To be digitized later.
- Koch, J. (2004). Science stories: Science Methods Book for Elementary and Middle School Teachers. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin.