Volume 17 Number 3

Podcasting for Language Learning Through iTunes U: The Learner’s View
Fernando Rosell-Aguilar, The Open University

iTunes U has become the main worldwide provider of educational podcasts but, despite its popularity, little is known about the type of user who downloads iTunes U language resources, or how those resources are used. This paper presents the results of the first major survey (1891 responses) of users of one of the most successful iTunes U content providers in terms of downloads. It presents a profile of the iTunes U language learner, their listening habits, and their opinion of the resources they download. Comparisons are drawn between language learners and learners of other subjects. The results show that in contrast with profiles of learners in other contexts—such as virtual learning environment-delivered podcasts, identified in previous research (mostly carried out with young university students who download podcasts for instrumental reasons)—iTunes U language learners are different. Respondents in this study are mostly middle-aged and employed, and they download resources for personal interest. Users have a high opinion of the quality of the materials, and they believe the materials help them to learn. The results also show that users listen to language podcasts on mobile devices, in sharp contrast with previous research. Finally, the paper discusses implications for further research.

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