Advances in Health Sciences Education

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 601–603 | Cite as

Podcasting: a technology, not a toy

  • Jonathan White
  • Nishan Sharma

It was with much interest that we read the recent paper by Zanussi et al. (2011). We believe that the authors are incorrect in their characterization of podcasting as a toy.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines a “toy” as:

  1. 1.

    an object for a child to play with, typically a model or miniature replica of something.

  2. 2.

    an object, especially a gadget or machine, regarded as providing amusement for an adult.


Podcasting is not a toy; rather, it is simply a technology that allows for the distribution of information over the internet. Zanussi et al. seem to confuse the message with the medium, forgetting that the same powerful mobile computing technology which can be used for amusement can also be used for more serious purposes. In characterizing podcasting as a “toy”, the authors are at risk of overlooking the power of this new technology; similar objections were voiced to the introduction of other information-dissemination technologies such as radio, television and indeed the...


Traditional Teaching Teaching Technique Educational Content Oxford English Dictionary Explicit Learning 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Hanford, E. (2012). Physicists seek to lose the lecture as teaching tool. Retrieved January 8, 2012, from
  2. Lee, M. (2007). Pervasive, lifestyle-integrated mobile learning for distance learners: An analysis and unexpected results from a podcasting study. Open Learning, 22, 201–218.Google Scholar
  3. Meade, O., Bowskill, D., & Lymn, J. S. (2009). Pharmacology as a foreign language: A preliminary evaluation of podcasting as a supplementary learning tool for non-medical prescribing students. BMC Medical Education, 9, 74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Molina, P. (2006). Pioneering new territory and technologies. EDUCAUSE Review, 41, 121–135.Google Scholar
  5. Stiffler, D., & Stoten, S. (2011). Podcasting as an instructional supplement to online learning: A pilot study. Computers Informatics, 29, 144–148.Google Scholar
  6. White, J. S., Sharma, N., & Boora, P. (2008). Surgery 101. Retrieved January 8, 2012, from
  7. White, J. S., Sharma, N., & Boora, P. (2011). Surgery 101: Evaluating the use of podcasting in a general surgery clerkship. Medical Teacher, 33, 941–943.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Zanussi, L., Paget, M., Tworek, J., & McLaughlin, K. (2011). Podcasting in medical education: Can we turn this toy into an effective learning tool? Advances in Health Sciences Education. doi: 10.1007/s10459-011-9300-9.Google Scholar
  9. Zapalska, A. (2006). Learning styles and online education. Campus-Wide Information Systems, 23, 325–335.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tom Williams Endowed Chair in Surgical Education, Department of SurgeryUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  2. 2.Royal Alexandra HospitalEdmontonCanada
  3. 3.Ward of the 21st Century, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

Personalised recommendations