Podcasts are a versatile medium that have become more and more a part of the higher education landscape. Your students may encounter podcasts alongside other materials in their reading and listening assignments; your colleagues may use podcasts in place of lecture videos and you might even consider asking students to create their own podcast episodes to demonstrate their learning. This blog covers major considerations to take into account when using podcasts in the classroom and provides resources to help you get started.
There are many high-quality podcasts available that might fit into your syllabus, as either objects of study or supplementary content. Members of the Duke community, in fact, have participated in podcast projects focused on their own fields of expertise. When selecting content for your syllabus, consider:
- Do the podcasts you’ve chosen meet accessibility standards, such as providing audio transcripts?
- How does incorporating these podcasts align with your learning objectives?
- What does using a particular podcast allow you to do that another type of content cannot?
- How are you balancing the time it takes for students to consume podcast assignments with their other coursework?
- How can you use podcasts to incorporate diverse voices into your curriculum?
Course Lecture Podcast
Recording short lectures as podcasts, like pre-recorded videos, can introduce students to new material asynchronously, saving synchronous time for discussion. Professor of History Bill Caraher at the University of North Dakota has written “that relatively low-tech solutions like podcasting are a good way to convert traditional or hybrid lecture courses online because most of our students have the means of downloading a podcast and listening to it.”(1) When thinking about whether or not to use the podcast format for a lecture, consider:
- Are your lectures following accessibility principles?
- Do you have particular pedagogical reasons to choose either a video or audio format?
- What copyright considerations do you need to take into account?
- If these stand in place of course lectures, what will you do during class time?
Student Podcast Project
Given the ubiquitousness of podcasts, asking students to produce their own could be a good authentic assessment of their engagement with your course content. When thinking about whether or not a podcast is right for your course, consider:
- How does this assignment align with your course learning objectives?
- What tools do students need to successfully complete this assignment? How accessible are these tools? Do you know these tools well enough to teach students or help them troubleshoot issues?
- How will you scaffold the knowledge students need to successfully produce their podcast into your course?
- How publicly will the students’ work be shared?
- Is this a group project? If so, how will you handle group dynamics?
- What discussions around copyright do I need to have with students?
Learning Innovation has a guide for how you could design a student podcast assignment. The University of Wisconsin-Stout also has a sample podcast rubric, so you can give your students clear guidelines for their assignment. Emma Davenport, a Duke PhD Candidate in English and a Bass Digital Education Fellow for the 2020-21 academic year, has created a podcast pedagogy toolkit, designed to help instructors and students at any institution successfully implement and complete podcast assignments.
If you want to share your students’ work publicly, be sure to have them sign a release form. Scholar Works at Duke has a sample release form for student work.
For more on copyright concerns in the classroom, be sure to read our Flexible Teaching Guide What should I know about copyright?
Course Design Guidance
Did you know that there are a number of podcasts dedicated to teaching and learning? We’ve curated a list of several of these podcasts that tackle a range of topics. These podcasts are a great way to get new ideas about how to continually improve your courses and to dive deeper into topics of interest.
If you would like to discuss integrating podcasts into your classroom, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us in open office hours every Monday from 1 to 3 p.m. EDT and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. EDT at duke.zoom.us/my/dukelearninginnovation.
- Caraher also provides podcasting tips on his blog.