How podcasts influence medical students’ learning – a descriptive qualitative study

  • M de Villiers
  • S Walsh


Background: Podcasting of lectures is increasingly used in higher education. It is popular with students as it provides a modern e-learning tool that reinforces learning and facilitates engagement with learning material. Podcasts have, however, not been used much in medical education in Africa. This article explores the influence podcasts have on how students in an African medical school approach their learning material.

Methods: This is a descriptive qualitative study encompassing six focus group discussions with a total of 38 students from each of the six study years in the medical programme.

Results: The feedback from the students called for continuous and extensive implementation. Themes identified included: a novel way to learn; complementing classroom learning; providing ease of mind (a safety net); and the influence of the lecturer on student learning. Students did not find that podcasts negatively influenced class attendance. Enthusiastic acceptance translated into active engagement with the learning material.

Discussion: The way the students used the podcasts fits the active learning double tenet of student activity and student engagement in using a particular instructional method. The podcasts allowed the students to be more adventurous in their learning and changed the way they approached their learning. Situating the learning in the students’ context and within their control played an important role in this.

Conclusion: Medical education in Africa is moving towards larger classes and increasingly decentralised clinical training. Podcasts of medical lectures in medical schools in Africa are an innovative and effective tool to enhance medical students’ learning.


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