Introduction

  • Podcasting is a means of publishing audio and video content on the web as a series of episodes with a common theme. Podcasting
  • A podcast is an episodic series of digital audio files made available on the Internet for streaming or downloading to a personal device (e.g., a computer, tablet, or smartphone). How to leverage podcasts for learning
  • A podcast is a digital audio file made available for download on either a computer or a mobile device. Teaching with Podcasts

Put most simply, a podcast is an audio file. Some reserve the term for serialized content that is available through subscription using RSS, but the term is now most often used to describe any audio file. Advocates of this medium contend that podcasts can help communicate content in an effective, readily accessible way. Podcasts are easy to record and can be downloaded to a mobile device such as smartphone or computer for convenient access any time. They can also increase equity by allowing students with a wide range of needs and resources to participate in educational activities.

Podcasts for teaching come from three possible sources: (a) existing recordings, (b) instructor created recordings, or (c) student created recordings. Utilizing these three types of sources, an instructor can use podcasts for several purposes, including the following:

1. Recording lectures. One way podcasts are often used is to record lectures and then make the recordings available to students through a specific site.  These recorded lectures have several uses

a. Review: Students who are unclear on the material presented and want another chance to hear it can listen to podcasts to review a complete lecture or parts of a lecture. This is especially true when the material is difficult, complex, or in other ways challenging.

b. Accessibility: Students can listen, pause, rewind, and review spoken content at their own pace. This opportunity to relisten to class material is especially important for students for whom English is not their first language or who have certain disabilities. Instructors often publish transcripts along with their audio output to make them more accessible.

c. Missed class: recorded class sessions also give students who were not able to attend a class an opportunity to listen to the lecture. They still miss the experience of class engagement and active participation, but they have access to more complete and accurate information than if they rely on a classmate’s notes.​​​​​​​

2. Supplementing lectures. Instructors may use podcasts to (a) add to or clarify information they have presented; (b) summarize content or highlight important points; or (c) go into greater depth on selected topics or expand on selected ideas. (These podcasts should be brief, no more than 15-20 minutes long.)

3. Providing additional sources. Podcasts, either publicly available or specially created for the course, may be used as primary or secondary source material. They can be used in place of or in addition to written sources. They are often good sources for examples: interviews or cases can bring concepts to life for students.

4. Creating class activities. Podcasts can be used to restructure class time, including flipping the classroom, so that students listen to lectures as podcasts outside of class and use time in class for active learning. They also can be listened to during class and used as part of active learning exercises. Examples include asking students to

a. Listen to one or several podcasts during or before class and compare and contrast episodes/podcasts

b. Listen to a podcast before class and then answer a list of prepared questions during class

c. Listen to a podcast before class and post comments about the podcast (e.g., favorite quotation, most important or most interesting point), which can then be discussed during class

d. Listen to a podcast, choose a meaningful quotation from it, and during class explain why they chose it

e. Listen to a podcast about a controversial topic and then raise points pro and con the main thesis or the arguments during class.

f. Listen to a podcast curing class and critique the organization, style, or format as a part of a discussion of communication tools

5. Formulating assignments. Students can be assigned to create a podcast (15-20 minutes long), which will be presented to the instructor, their classmates (in class or out of class), or to the larger community. These can be used to replace and/or supplement written assignments or live class presentations. The assignments can be used to teach skills that reflect a variety of student learning outcomes, including

a. Understanding course material

b. Researching a topic in depth

c. Collecting, synthesizing, and interpreting data

d. Developing critical and analytic skills for evaluating information

e. Organizing and constructing a presentation, including making a logical argument

f. Learning to write a script or outline for an oral presentation

g. Developing oral presentation skills that consider audience and tone

h. Developing technological skills to create a podcast, including recording and editing

i. Developing teamwork/collaboration skills

j. Learning to give and to use constructive feedback

k. Developing outreach skills in disseminating a podcast

Podcasts can be used in face-to-face, blended, hybrid, and online courses. The advantages of using podcasts for teaching include​​​​​​​

  • Flexibility: They can be accessed anytime, anywhere, at the listeners’ convenience.
  • Cost: There is no charge to listen to most podcasts and minimal cost to create them.
  • Variety: Podcasts allow instructors to bring in a range of perspectives.
  • Currency: Podcasts give instructors access to the most current perspectives.
  • Active learning: They can be used as active learning exercises to increase student engagement.
  •  Flipped classroom: Podcasts can be listened to outside of class time, freeing up in class time for active learning activities.
  • Accessible: Podcasts are widely available and can be used to reach a broad audience, including students with certain disabilities, especially if they include a transcript.
  • Team work: They can be used to teach collaboration and build a sense of community in a course.
  • Community engagement: They can be used to disseminate information to a broad public audience.

The most often cited concerns about the use of podcasts in teaching include

  • When used to record lectures, they will encourage students not to attend classes.
  • When they are used to provide supplemental information, students can become too dependent on material intended as scaffolding, not as a replacement for class.
  • When used for any purpose, they are not adequate replacements for classroom engagement, readings, and written assignments.
  • Creating high-quality podcasts requires expertise in audio production.
  • Creating podcasts may require additional equipment (e.g., microphone, audio editing software, and podcast hosting services)
  • Low-bandwidth or storage can impede podcast creation or consumption, limiting access.

Evaluating Student Podcasts: Rubrics

Developing Grading Rubrics/Assessment Criteria for Multimedia Assignments
Princeton University McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning

Hear this! Podcasts as an Assessment Tool in Higher Education
McGill University Teaching for Learning

Podcast Rubric
University of Wisconsin/Stout

Examples of Academic Podcasts

Podcasting Assignments
Princeton University Mcgraw Center for Teaching and Learning

Examples of Podcast Assignments
Brown University Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning​​​​​​​

Examples of Podcasts by Faculty and Students
Carnegie Mellon University Podcasts Across CMU

Resources/Guides

Podcasts
Harvard University Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning

Best Practices for Preparation of Engaging Podcasts
Synergis Education

A Guide to Academic Podcasting
Amplify Podcast Network

How to Make Your Podcast Accessible for Everyone
Podcast Accessibility

Podcasting Assignments
Princeton University Educational & Classroom Technologies

Creating a Podcast Assignment
Swarthmore College Its Blog

Four Mistakes I Made When Assigning Podcast
Chronicle of Higher Education

Adapting the Framework: Podcasts
University Of Michigan Sweetland Center for Wriforg

Podcasting Guide
University of Minnesota Libraries

It’s Time for Academe to Take Podcasting Seriously
Inside Higher Education

10 Ways You Can Use Podcasts in Your Courses to Engage Students
Barbihoneycutt

How to Use Podcasts in Teaching
Teaching in Higher Education

Listen to This! Using Podcasts for Online Learning
Times in Higher Education

7 Things You Should Know About Podcasting
Educause

Teaching With Podcasts
Brown University Sheridan Center for Teaforng and Learning

Using Podcasts in Your Classroom
Duke University Learning Innovations

Podcasting
Carleton University Teaching and Learning Services

Podcasting
Carnegie Mellon University: A Teaching Technology White Paper

Podcasting
Yale University Poorvu Center for Teaching And Leaandng

How To Leverage Podcasts for Learning
Stanford University Graduate School of Education

Creative Assignments: Podcasting
University of Chicago Academic Technology Solutions