Mutsumi Ogaki, School of Social Ecology
In social science classes, it’s not uncommon for instructors to integrate podcasts into course materials. In this post, I will go a step further and discuss benefits of implementing student-produced podcast as a class project. In addition to enhanced learning experience and apprehension of course materials, the activity provides students with an opportunity to develop professional skills that are crucial for their success outside of class environments (Bolliger & Armier Jr, 2013; Killean & Summerville, 2020; Moryl, 2016). I will first briefly discuss the logistics and strategies for its implementation based on my experience as a teaching assistant (TA), and then I will discuss its benefits for students and instructors/TAs.
An Example of Student-Produced Podcasts in Action
Students were randomly assigned with a peer unless they had a specific classmate they wanted to work with or wanted to work alone. They conducted an interview with someone outside of their class on topics related to media representation of law and justice. A suggestion here is to use an interview prompt that is tied to at least one of your course learning objective. Based on the interview, students produced 10 minute-long podcasts. Approximately 8 minutes had to come from their interview, which means 1 minute each for introduction and conclusion. This length was long enough for in-depth conversations and examination of course topics yet not too overwhelming for students as well as instructors/TAs. Students had a chance to submit their interview protocol a few weeks prior to their interview to receive feedback from TAs and refine their questions. Students were provided with ample resources for podcast production through guidelines, office hours, assigned weekly podcasts by professionals, and examples of student-produced podcasts from previous courses. For more strategies for implementation, please see (Bolliger & Armier Jr, 2013; Moryl, 2016)
Benefits for student learning and success outside of class
- Expanding student understanding of course topics
To formulate interview questions, students needed to have a good handle of relevant course topics and readings. Also, to interview someone who may not be familiar with the course topics, students needed to explain relevant discipline-specific concepts in their own words or using easier to understand words and examples. By summarizing takeaways from the interview and making connections to course content, students can generate new knowledge and/or reinforce their understanding of materials.
- Development of professional skills
Students have an opportunity to foster their communication skills by interacting with their peers and interviewees. Also, undergraduate courses usually focus on training students to write about discipline-specific topics, but podcasts allow them to practice their oral communication skills in a more natural setting with less pressure than a class presentation. Moreover, many of my students needed to solve common issues in a professional setting, including schedule conflicts and technical issues with their internet connection or communication tools such as zoom. For some, this project was an opportunity to network with individuals with careers they are interested in.
- Showcasing student creativity
Students were so creative I genuinely enjoyed listening to their podcasts. Many students added music to their introductions and conclusions, and had fun and cheesy titles for their podcasts. Some even mention their next episode or acknowledged their sponsors!
- Bonus points for instructors and TAs
As a TA, I felt more connected to students after listening to their voice, which I don’t get to experience as much in the context of remote or online teaching. Moreover, assessment of audio-only files meant less screen time when I graded the assignment!
Bolliger, D. U., & Armier Jr, D. D. (2013). Active learning in the online environment: The integration of student-generated audio field. Active Learning in Higher Education, 14(3), 201-211.
Moryl, R. L. (2016). Pod learning: Student groups create podcasts to achieve economics learning goals. The Journal of Economic Education, 47(1), 64-70.
Killean, R., & Summerville, R. (2020). Creative podcasting as a tool for legal knowledge and skills development. The Law Teacher, 54(1), 31-42.