Group Microcasts for Reflection

Reflective thinking becomes richer if it has an object of focus. Often, students lack such an object, especially if the focus of study is an ephemeral experience or a discussion.

The Context

One way to reify (make into an object) an experience or discussion is to have students make a discrete product. This pattern requires students to collect their thoughts on a topic and to produce a limited product. In this case, the product is a small podcast with tight constraints on duration (60 seconds) and preparation time (30 minutes). This serves to make the product small enough to make in a tutorial class and also to trigger critical evaluation of the content, so that only important elements are included. Once the microcasts have been made, they can be hosted and made available to other groups for further reflection.

The Pattern

  1. At least some students will require skills in recording, editing and exporting audio files as MP3s.
  2. Students will also need to plan a short audio script that involves different segments.
  3. Prepare recording devices, software and hosting space. Microphones in laptops/webcams should be sufficient. (Free audio editing software such as Audacity should be available. Hosting space for podcasts is included in most course management systems such as Blackboard or Moodle). Well ahead of doing the activity, test the whole process yourself before asking students to complete the task.
  4. Identify students who have technical and/or production skills. They may help others, particularly if they are spread amongst the groups present.
  5. Break the class up into small groups.
  6. Outline the task to students with a summary of the processes they will need to go through. Give them a definite time limit (45 minutes if this is the first time they have done it, less if they are experienced).
  7. As the groups work on their microcasts, trouble-shoot problems, offer suggestions, and keep them on-task. Employ technical/production experts where necessary.
  8. When the microcasts have been completed and available from the hosting site, use them as the basis for further learning activity. For example, the 4Rs prompts can be used to reflect on how the microcasting process has enabled a particular representation of the topic.

Related Patterns

Second Order Reflection (SOR)
Reflection Around Artefacts (RAA)



Microcasting hand-out.


Nie, M., Cashmore, A. & Cane, C. (2008). The educational value of student generated podcasts. In: ALT-C 2008 Rethinking the Digital Divide, 9 – 11 September 2008, Leeds, UK.


This pattern was initiated by Kelli McGraw (Education).