Podcasts in Teaching and Learning

podcast listening 1Using Podcasts To Enhance Teaching and Learning

Professor Katie Ferraro (MPH, RD, CDE) talks about how to incorporate this popular medium into college pedagogy

Consumer awareness of and interest in podcasts has reached an all-time high. Podcasting refers to the use of online audio content made available over the Internet using a subscription feed. Aided by the runaway success of the podcast Serial which aired in 2014 and reinvestigated the 1999 murder of a Maryland high school student, the Pew Research Center for Journalism and Media has determined that the upward trend of podcast consumption is evident in every available measure.

A greater percentage of Americans are now aware of and are listening to podcasts more than ever before, and an increasing number of people are doing so on their mobile devices. The percentage of Americans who have listened to a podcast within the last month has doubled since 2008, from 9% to 17% in January 2015. Roughly one-third of Americans age 12 and older now say they have listened to at least one podcast. With podcast awareness and utilization on the rise, how can educators and students tap into this valuable medium to help elucidate their subject matter?

Educators know that today’s students love mobile technology. They use it all the time, for just about everything relating to communication, information and entertainment. In fact most Podcasts are an artful blending of those three elements. Elements which are also fundamental to learning.

If you don’t already do so, one of the best ways to familiarize yourself with podcasting in general is to start listening to podcasts yourself. Check out Apple’s Podcasts app that comes standard with IOS, or subscribe to podcasts directly from iTunes. Try perusing the New and Noteworthy selections in the iTunes Stores and sort findings by category such as Education, News & Politics, or Health. Outside of the Apple spectrum, there are many other web and mobile-based options for finding and listening to podcasts such as Overcast, Castro and Stitcher.

College Teaching Podcast 2Educator-Created Podcasts

Podcasting allows educators to reach students using a medium that they are readily accustomed to and familiar with. Educators may find podcasting useful for:

  • Introducing course expectations at the beginning of a class for students or parents
  • Recording classroom-based lectures for absent, hybrid or online student use
  • Supplementing in-classroom or reading assignments
  • Conducting exam or assessment review sessions
  • Taping classroom discussions or Q & A sessions

Who uses podcasts in teaching? Check out iTunes U. Podcasts make up the majority of content there.

on air 1Tips for Effective Podcasting

If you’re going to brave the waters of creating your own podcast for use in your class, keep in mind the following tips for best practices in podcasting:

  • Keep it short – aim for around 10-15 minutes depending upon your topic
  • Don’t get bogged down by the technology – purchase a simple entry level microphone and record to Garageband or Audacity; interview guests with Skype or Google Hangouts
  • Script out your main points – as you would in a lecture, keeping to an outline is ideal
  • Be yourself – informality rules in podcasting and listeners gravitate towards an authentic voice of authority.

podcast creation

For the basics on starting your own podcast (either for educational purposes or as a monetized side business) check out popular podcaster John Lee Dumas of Entrepreneur on Fire’s Free Podcast Course available at www.eofire.com/fpc.

Student-Created Podcasts

Another option for incorporating podcasts in your learning environment is to have students create their own podcasts. Student-created podcasts can be helpful for:

  • Group project submissions
  • Radio style broadcast assignments
  • Digital storybooks
  • Living history projects
  • Interviews with family or colleagues for class-based assignments

Podcasts Created by Outside Experts

Utilizing already-created podcasts created by other podcasters who are subject matter experts is another innovative way to augment classroom or web-based learning. Offering or assigning particular pre-selected podcast episodes can offer students and learners a “guest lecturer” insight they may not have otherwise have had. There are so many varieties of podcast formats available that you’re sure to find one that suits your particular learning outcome needs. Some podcasts are interviewer/interviewee format, while others take on a narrative or story-telling approach. Still other podcasts provide direct teaching material – all of which serve to enhance the student’s knowledge of the given topic.

Journal of Nutrition Education Podcast 2Nutrition Education Podcasts

As a nutrition educator, I look for podcasts that provide research briefs of recently published studies relevant to the nutrition science topic we are studying. Peer review journals often have their own podcasts, and 3 of my go-to’s for assigning nutrition literature review work are:

Another place to go for up-to-date reputable podcast content can be different government agencies. In nutrition, I also utilize the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) podcasts at http://www2c.cdc.gov/podcasts/index.asp and the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service’s Food and Nutrition Innovator Podcast at http://www.fns.usda.gov/get-involved/food-and-nutrition-innovator-podcast.

With the incredible variety of podcasting opportunities and offerings available for free to anyone with an Internet connection, you’re certain to find a way both you and your students will enjoy to incorporate this valuable medium into your learning environment.

Note from C4E: if you or a colleague has a podcast about college pedagogy in general, or about any of the specific disciplines that we serve – please let us know. We would be happy to share your podcast with other interested college professors and instructors.

Katie Ferraro
Katie Ferraro is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator working in the San Diego and San Francisco, CA markets. She is a consultant dietitian with a focus on nutrition curriculum development and evidence based nutrition science information exchange.

Katie helps companies, universities and individuals optimize health and maximize effectiveness with proven nutrition strategies. She is an Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of California, San Francisco and The University of San Diego.

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