Proceedings of The Physiological Society

University of Cambridge (2008) Proc Physiol Soc 11, PC51

Poster Communications

The use of video and audio pod files to support undergraduate lectures and laboratory classes in physiology.

S. Gomez1, D. Lush1, K. Croker1, H. Andersson2, C. Lush1

1. Faculty of Health & Life Sciences, University of the West of England (UWE), Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom. 2. Centre for Languages and Literature, University of Lund, Lund, Sweden.


Podcasting is gaining in popularity in the broadcasting world as a means of allowing people to view or listen to their entertainment at a time and place that suits them. Similarly, on-demand access to digital media has potential benefits for academia, especially in terms of matching the pace of learning to individual student needs. We initially produced and podcasted short, scripted audio files covering material taught to undergraduate students taking human physiology modules. This approach was very popular with the students; their only ‘complaint’ was that they wanted more. We then extended this approach to producing short video files of 2-4 mins exploring a particular aspect or principle in physiology or human anatomy. The audio files were designed to accompany a handout with diagrams, but the video files allowed the audio and visuals to be combined. Initially, video files on a particular topic were made available before the lecture covering that topic. No handouts were produced and students were instructed to view the files and take preliminary notes before attending the appropriate lecture and taking supplementary notes. This approach allowed more time to expound on principles during the lecture rather than covering the fundamental facts and information contained in the audio/video files. Despite dire warnings from colleagues that the students would either not attend lectures or not view the files, we found that students continued to attend lectures and did indeed use the digital materials produced to support them. In the next stage of development, we decided to make the files unavailable for download as this could compromise IPR and lead to redistribution and alteration (eg via You Tube). We therefore developed a password-controlled resource in which the audio and video files were available for on-screen viewing only. The resource also allowed students to provide written feedback and provided usage-tracking at the level of the individual student. Because the files are not podcasted in the strict technical sense, we refer to them as ‘pod’ files rather than ‘podcasts’. Though 2-4 min duration may not seem very long, it matches well the average duration of video snippets young people are exposed to (music videos and You Tube files); so, a particular topic may consist of up to 30 pod files. The resource also allows the author and user to organize the files on a public or private basis to share with other users. We have also applied this approach to guiding students through practical laboratory classes, to assisting them on placement and with employability skills, peer assessment, and to providing higher skills training within industry. Examples of our video material will be demonstrated as will the resource for delivering the learning materials.

Where applicable, experiments conform with Society ethical requirements