Podcasting is a powerful medium, but how do you use it effectively?
Even if a student isn’t found on the auditory spectrum of the VARK model, podcasts are still delivered in a way that makes them easy to listen to and integrate. In fact, some podcasts are completely made around the idea that the listener can follow through with an activity while listening to podcast episodes.
If used correctly, you can implement podcasting in the classroom and teach listeners of just about any age how to use information from it effectively. Let’s talk about what place it has in the classroom and how to move forward.
Can Podcasting be Used in the Classroom?
Yes, podcasting is an excellent resource that can absolutely be used in the classroom depending on the stipulations of the institution.
In fact, podcasts (and audio listening in general) may be a student’s preferred learning modal. Whether or not you put stock in the VARK model, there are plenty of people who who rather listen to a podcast than watch a video podcast, and that’s for a reason: they take in the information better.
When paired with additional activities, podcasting in the classroom can be a force for learning that does a lot for students. It all depends, but if the option’s on the table, this is what you should know about podcasting in the classroom.
- Multimodal Learning: We learn through different means. One person may have an easier and more enjoyable time learning through audio, while another might learn more through video. You can use audio (podcasting) are one mode of learning with another physical activity. Another learning method is kinisthetic learning, which basically means learning by doing and working with your hands. Pair these two together, and you incorporate a multimodal learning system that can expedite skill building.
- Pique Their Interests: Podcasts are manufactured in a way that they’re designed to be entertaining, otherwise they wouldn’t be successful. There’s a reason that we’ve seen such a rise in podcasting: the production value beats just about any lecture that a teacher could give, because it stimulates the mind in an entirely different way. If your studnets have an interest in something, a podcast may be the best way to truly pique their interest and teach them about their interests and passions.
- Build Excitement: Do you remember being in school and getting excited any time they decided to run a movie in class? Sure, the movie was educational in nature, but it meant not having to fine-tune your focus to a textbook. The same people who got excited about those movies are the ones who turned to video and audio learnign styles in the future. You can reach the minds of students with podcasting in a way that a textbook just can’t. Use podcasts to build excitement, as if it were a reward for work (even though it helps them learn in the process).
- Benefits Shy Learners: Anxiety is a huge problem for students. If they feel anxious in the classroom (which can happen in collaborative environments quite often), they may shut off the part of their brain that allows them to take in and retain new information. Anxiety causes cortisol to release into the body, the same way that anger does. Both of these emotions block learning, but when that shy learner has a pair of headphones on and has the opportunity to learn in a solo environment, even while being in the classroom with their peers, it can make the world of difference in their learning and test scores.
- Better Homework: If you can’t use podcasts in the classroom, perhaps you can use them as homework. Find short, educational podcasts and request a short report of 1-2 pages regarding the contents. This can help further the conversation on certain topics you cover in your classroom, and bring up early morning conversations in your classroom the next day. If all your students (or at least most of them) actually listened to the podcast, you can expect them to talk about it and further their own education through peer-to-peer conversations.
- Podcasts Won’t be Accepted by Every Insitution: While podcasting is a genuine medium that plenty of people use to learn, it’s not accepted by everyone just yet. Podcasts wildly serve entertainment niches moreso than educational ones, and while you can find educational content in entertainment-centered podcasts, it may be difficult to get it through approval in a traditional classroom setting.
- Ratings May Not be Approved: Podcasts set their own ratings on many platforms. There isn’t an equivalent of the ESRB for video games or TY for television, so it’s up to the discretion of the podcast publisher to set the rating. That puts a lot of unregulated responsibility into the hands of podcast publishers, and for that reason you can’t guarantee a rating will hold true to the content. This could spark outrage with parents if it’s not handled well or approved by an additional body beforehand.
- Material Isn’t Guaranteed to Hit Home: Your students may revel in the prospect of listening to podcasts as a part of their schooling, but that doesn’t mean it will be as effective as you want it to be. The fact of the matter is, if you assign one podcast to twenty different students, your chance for a 100% success rate is slim.
Which Classes Can Benefit From Podcasts?
Art classes are ideally one of the best ways to use podcasting as a secondary learning method. Art is influenced by everything we do, see, and hear, so it only makes sense that when a podcast plays, it stimulates the mind and helps with creativity. But art isn’t the only type of class that podcasts can benefit students.
Because there are so many different types of podcasts, there’s a use for most class types. You can use international podcasts to learn social studies, scientific podcasts to learn about space, mathematics and computing, and more.
Additionally, podcasting can also be used for physical education and extra curricular activities. When you become good at something, such as running track or during soccer drills. It can make something mundane more exciting.
Finding educational podcasts isn’t too difficult. While many are rooted in entertainment, there are plenty that focus on educational contrent instead. While it may be difficult to find a host of these podcasts, you can make a list and try to get them approved for use in the classroom.
Educational podcasts may be centered around skills, careers, science, or experiments. You can find a list of educational podcast resources scoured around the internet, though kerep in mind they’re in short supply compared to entertainment-based podcasts.
Information is different from education. When you educate, you hope to invite someone into your realm of knowledge by sharing bits and pieces. Informational podcasts put out data, information, and don’t try to persuade you either way. It’s about giving you the tools to be educated, not mold a specific education around you.
This is an important distinction, and could be the difference between being allowed to bring podcasts into the classroom or having them banned. Informational podcasts are like audible textbooks, just normally in a much more digestible and enjoyable format.
Should Students Learn How to Make a Podcast?
Podcasting has become a major career for a lot of people, and the industry as a whole has grown substantially. Whether you’re an audio engineer, marketer, ad network manager, interviewer, or simple crew for mic checks, there’s work in podcasting. Additionally, there’s editing, equipment setup, sourcing individuals to interview, and tons of other tasks that could fit into a podcast management role.
While it may not be the career path that every one of your students choose, podcasting allows you to learn a ton of other marketable skills that could all be applied through various positions. These are some of the ways that podcasting can help kids in the classroom learn skills that can land them jobs, and more importantly, help them find passion through work.
Video podcasts, as you might imagine, need video editors. This might be surprising if you’ve ever seen an uncut, long-form podcast in the past that looks like there’s been no cutting whatsoever. Video editing is more than just chopping up clips to make something short-form and cut out the extra footage.
Editors are responsible for making sure the content is digestible, entertaining, and maintains the viewer’s attention for as long as possible. In many ways, video editors are the last quality check before the public sees a video podcast, so their job is equally as important as the crew that gathers the footage in the first place. Video editors learn color grading, sound editing, lighting effects, and flow of information to maintain an audience’s interest in the content.
Audio engineers aren’t audio editors exactly; typically, video editors wear both hats in that case. Instead, audio engineers deal with all the sound equipment. As you can imagine, that’s a pretty important task for a primarily audio-based medium like podcasting.
Audio engineers sync equipment, ensure audio levels are solid to set things up for the recording phase, and deal with all the sound equipment before production begins. They essentially make sure editing is as easy as possible by being responsible for recording quality sound and keeping a level of control over that sound quality during recording.
Writing is perhaps one of the easiest ways to get into podcasting, but it takes a quality writer to exceed to the higher ranks. Even many of the podcasts you’ve listened to that feel completely off-the-cuff have some level of scripting.
Scripts may either coordinate the majority of what a podcaster says, or it may be a brief but thought-out list of questions to ask as an interviewer. Script writers are responsible for making the content inherently entertaining and informative by structuring the way the program/podcast is organized. They research the guests and topic for each podcast episode to find out what people want to hear about.
Most good podcasts need an influx of interviewees to fill the show with content. A talent scout, or someone in charge of talent acquisition, should look at every guest appearance as a collaboration.
Collaborations offer the chance to cross-pollenate audiences in a way that most podcasts might not otherwise encounter. It’s a very specific role, but there’s plenty of need for talent acquisition and interview scheduling in the world of entertainment and show business that you would be able to learn from.
Production and Management
This one is big. Every large show, podcast, radio channel (and so on) requires a production manager, and someone in charge of managing the staff at a high level. This varies from production size to production size, but it’s a skill set that encompasses many different departments in a production environment, and would make it much easier to work in multiple fields.
Now, teaching all of these skills in a classroom setting sounds a bit daunting for sure. While these skills may not be the best to teach in certain classes, it certainly piques interests. You likely have a handful of students that have parents who listen to podcasts already. This could be a great chance to incorporate something they already know into their studies.
Whether it’s to explore current issues and trending topics, learn a skill, meditate and learn mindfulness, or any other type of podcast you can think of, it’s a great addition to any classroom. For some, reading textbooks and watching videos just doesn’t do it—listening to a conversation, interview, and instruction through clear and concise audio is the best way to learn something new more often than not.