I’m a sucker for podcasts. I listen to podcasts about pretty much anything, and greatly prefer the easygoing conversational style of a podcast to formal interviews or radio shows. I usually listen to at least one podcast a day during a long run on topics ranging from sports to entertainment to science and history.
Recently, I attempted to bring the idea of podcasting to my students. I’ve assigned students a weekly podcast to complete each week in my Media Sociology class. Three students are asked to create a 30 minute podcast that address topics from the week. One student is asked to be the moderator and develop questions for discussion, while two other students are asked to be panelists and engage in discussions. Using Garageband and Google Drive, students record the podcast, share it with me, and I upload it to our iTunes U site. The learning curve on the tech side of things is almost nonexistent; it’s just about as “plug and play” as one could imagine. Below is a video I used to explain the process to students; you can see just how simple it is:
What has been most incredible about this podcast is the depth I see in student conversations about the topic. The podcast format has allowed students the time to engage deeply with the material in the class, and the presentation of the material in audio form allows their ideas about the topics covered in class to come to the forefront clearly and coherently. As a formative assessment tool, I find that the podcast gives me a much greater sense of how students engage with the material, and I’m finding that my students have a much more nuanced understanding of the material than I could have imagined.
While it might be impossible to have every student podcast every week, asking three students to discuss the topics for the week not only provides a great assessment tool for the teacher, but also gives their classmates a way to remind themselves of the content of the material from the week, and students creating the podcast have an accountability that comes with publishing the material. All in all, it has been a rather transformative experience for me as a teacher. I highly recommend giving it a shot.
If you’d like to check out the initial podcasts of the second semester on my iTunes U site, click the following link: