Teaching & Learning Portal


Using podcasts for distance learning

28 August 2013

Peter Smitham of the UCL Institute of Orthopaedics and Musculoskeletal Science (IOMS) explains how his team used an E-Learning Development Grant (ELDG) to develop a series of podcasts.


The concept

IOMS recorded a number of podcasts given by experts in order to build engagement with distance learning students. The students are now beginning to create podcasts of their own.

How it worked

The ELDG grant offered a fantastic opportunity for us to develop an enhanced distance learning tool consisting of integrated podcasts by national and international experts in musculoskeletal medicine. Distance learning is becoming an essential model for teaching and learning and this project aimed to create a new way of engaging students. We were given £4,000 to develop this. The money was spent in several key areas:

  • Website development
  • Interview recording devices
  • Interviewer skill development and editing

The UCL Institute of Orthopaedics and Musculoskeletal Science (IOMS)'s ‘ortho-podcasts’ are the first set of podcasts dedicated to trainees and students. They are packed with insights into the careers and expertise of respected clinicians and researchers alongside invaluable expert advice on the Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons exam and additional advice for the MSc Musculoskeletal Sciences course run through IOMS.

Students have benefitted enormously from this resource. It has been used to highlight key topic areas the students must know, allows them to hear from the leading star figures within the world and possibly inspires the future generation of musculoskeletal clinicians and researchers by providing them insight into how these key experts became who they are.

This is an ongoing project and students are fully engaged in the possibilities ortho-podcasts have to offer. We are in the process of creating a series of multiple choice questions to link to the podcasts so students can provide feedback on their use as a learning tool. Linking the podcasts to Soundcloud has the additional benefit of allowing students to comment on particular sections of the podcasts. This has the potential to be used as a student forum where they can highlight particular areas of interest or concern, information which can then be used in future group sessions.

Some students have gone as far as creating podcasts themselves, and have already conducted their own interviews with international experts. We are currently aiming for a new podcast to be posted each month.

If I could give any advice to colleagues interested in creating something similar I would suggest that the key is to make sure the end product looks and sounds crisp and that the podcasts are entertaining and interesting. 

Further information