Guest Blog

The golden age of podcasting: listening and creating for teachers and students

Podcasts are like radio shows on demand. Podcasts can be a powerful learning tool for both students and adults. Here are some fantastic ideas for using podcasting in your classroom.

[callout]This post is written by Brian Briggs and Ryan O’Donnell. Brian is currently the Director of Innovation and Instructional Technology for the Plumas Lake Elementary School District in California. Ryan O’Donnell is a high school social studies and technology teacher at Rocklin High School in Rocklin, Califonia. You can subscribe to their podcast “Check This Out” on iTunes, Google Play or Stitcher. [/callout]

The Golden Age of Podcasting

During the Golden Age of Radio, families would sit around their radios to be entertained by shows of Little Orphan Annie or the early crime drama of the Shadow read and created by a 22-year-old old actor, Orson Welles.

George Burns and Gracie Allen, staring as versions of themselves in The Burns and Allen Radio Show. (photo credit: static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/burns_and_allen_episode.jpg)

Other stars include Jack Benny, Bob Hope and the husband & wife team of and the husband/wife teams of George Burns and Gracie Allen.

Fast forward to today, where almost everyone has a personal computer in their pocket where they can have access to thousands of shows to listen to at any given time in the form of podcasts.

This can be described as a personal DVR for your ears.

Children can listen to their Stories at bedtime or adults can listen to the award-winning crime drama of Serial on their way to work. In the world of podcasts, there is something for everyone, even us educators.

Adult Learners

There are podcasts available for us as educators to make us refine our craft as educators and/or change the mindset of our approach to teaching. When an educator asks me what podcast they should listen to, I (Brian) do not hesitate and respond, The Cult of Pedagogy by Jennifer Gonzalez.

Jennifer covers topics and trends in today’s education like episode 13: Could You Teach Without Grades? or episode 99: Six Strategies to Quality-Check Your Tech. She always drops great nuggets of knowledge to help us all improve our instruction. If you like to think outside the educational box and stretch your thinking, the podcast Modern Learners will definitely make you think like the episode 50: Measuring (Or Not) the Immeasurable.

You can also find practical advice from podcasts such as The Google Teacher Tribe, TOSAs Talking Tech or ours, Check This Out. Again, there is something for everyone. A historical piece in education I believe all teachers should listen to with the Revisionist History, Series 2; episode 3: Miss Buchanan’s Period Of Adjustment which covers Supreme Court decision on the Brown v Board of Education case. Again, there is something for everyone when it comes to podcasts.

Podcast for Teaching

Podcasts can be used as a teaching tool based on the curricular content to make a point.

Listenwise is an amazing site that curates podcasts from multiple sources like NPR and broken down by subject matter. The current event feature on Listenwise is a valuable resource for students to learn about current events in short digestible chunks or the Up First podcast by NPR that starts every day with updates to current news and ideas.  

High school students on a Listening Walkabout as a brain break. (photo credit: Ryan O’Donnell)

I (Ryan) take this one step further by taking his high school students on a Listening Walkabout where I load up a podcast episode, or a portion of one, and walk the campus with my students as a brain break to help the students focus while walking and listening. Here is another example of the The Walking Classroom, an elementary program that does something similar.

Podcast for Students

Podcasts are not just for adults, there are great podcasts for our students. There is even a podcast called Chompers that teaches and encourages healthy and proper brushing habits of our kids’ teeth. Podcasts can enhance lessons, improve listening skills, encourage creativity by listening to appropriate and content-based stories. Some teachers have moments in the day where they have their student sketchnote a podcast to assist in comprehension, creativity and concept attainment.  Here are just a few podcasts available for you to listen with your students. When it comes to a good podcast, we are suckers for a good story and a great storyteller.

Students as creators

We covered podcasts as consumers and we ask our students to consume a lot of information in the day from all sorts of mediums. Thanks to the programs like Soundtrap and Anchor give the power to our students to become creators of their own radio talk show, interviews or review curricular content in their own words.

Students creating podcasts helps fluency, comprehension, and public speaking. The power of student voice is priceless in today’s classroom.

That’s a wrap!

With the increase of accessibility to podcasts, the ease of listening and the increase of content dare I (Brian) say we are approaching the Golden Age of Podcasts. If you have not listened lately to a podcast, choose one from the ones listed above or search on a popular podcatcher (Apple Podcast app, Google Podcast app or our favorite Pocket Cast), look under trending shows.

Some podcasting statistics from the fine people at Listenwise (2018):

The Rise of Podcasting and Storytelling. (2018). events.listenwise.com. Retrieved 26 September 2018, from http://events.listenwise.com.pages.services/the-rise-of-podcasting-and-storytelling.

If you have a favorite podcast you are listening to already, please share with us by tweeting out the show with the hashtag #podcastEDU.

So put on some earphones or go for a drive and enjoy!

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