Not every new form of media is suitable for the classroom or conducive to learning, but podcasts can be a fantastic resource for teachers and students alike.
What Makes Podcasts Perfect for Teaching?
There are so many amazing technological advancements available to teachers these days, and podcasts are high on that list. Podcasts work with our current culture, allowing learning to become more of a conversation--an interaction--as opposed to just a reading assignment. The fixed amount of time lets teachers and students know exactly how long listening will take (a guarantee not available for standard reading assignments), and means they can be easily worked into a class plan.
Mike Godsey, educator and educational writer, discusses the use of podcasts in teaching regularly on his site, and he's incorporated them into his own educational practices with much success. He has found several creative ways to make podcasts part of his teaching method and has noticed many great benefits to adding them to his lesson plans.
High School Classrooms & Podcasts
Mike Godsey has utilized a podcast in lieu of a reading assignment for his high school students. He found that it was incredibly helpful to his students in terms of keeping them focused, engaging them in the assignment, and deepening their understanding of the material. He found that his students were more interested and involved, came up with higher quality observations and contributions, and ultimately remembered more about what they'd learned.
Godsey also reported that discussions of the material were deeper and more involved after using podcasts, and while he didn't do any formal studies, his students reported greater enjoyment for their studies when presented in this manner. In turn, this lends itself to greater retention of the material and more eagerness to engage in future learning.
Boosting Reading With Podcasts
For reluctant, disenchanted students who are simply too busy, or students who aren't inspired to read, Godsey utilizes podcasts to help get students started with reading. The nature of podcasts plays into our human tendency to respond to spoken word and oral storytelling. When combined with reading, it greatly enhances the learning experience. Many podcasts provide transcripts that you can follow along with and even print out for note-taking and highlighting.
Since reading comprehension and listening comprehension are both important and deeply intertwined, he found that combining reading and listening had a powerful impact on his students. Having his class follow along with the transcript of the podcast they were listening to gave students a chance to increase their comprehension of the material.
Making A Podcast In Your Class
After listening to several podcasts with his class and discussing them at length, Godsey and his students decided they would make their very own podcast. An amateur production, to be sure, but powerful nonetheless. Podcasts are not just a way of receiving information--they are a creative outlet that students can utilize for projects, expanding their horizons and using some of the things they've learned in a real, practical way.
There are endless possibilities for creating a podcast with your own class. Imagine getting students excited about the platform, the ability to share information, and the material they get to listen to on various podcasts. Then imagine handing them the reins, letting them come up with ideas, write scripts, record, edit, make artwork and music, and whatever else they decide to incorporate. There's nothing more thrilling than creating something you love, and with the right tools, students can make entire projects around a podcast, exploring any and every topic imaginable and enjoying the process all the while.
Not to mention, as students enter the workforce, the more skills they can acquire in school, the better they'll fare in life. Knowing how to manage and edit audio content (or even video content, in the case of some podcasts) is a huge boost, and getting that guidance in a classroom is an excellent start, particularly for less confident students.
Podcasts Can Bring A New Dimension To Your Teaching
Podcasts are free, easy to use and share, and cover every imaginable topic. They make for excellent discussion material in class, and while they might not always be completely factual--many podcasts are mostly opinion-based--a podcast can be a great way to open up a topic for discussion and get students talking about the various angles by which to see a topic. Considering opposing opinions and learning how to approach disagreements in a productive, positive way (as well as how to recognize opinion as opposed to believing things as factual) is a powerful skill many are never taught, but would benefit greatly from.
Like all technology, podcasts can be a huge benefit to the classroom if utilized correctly. And while they can never replace traditional reading materials and projects, they can be incorporated into teaching for the benefit of all. By having a plan, you can boost reading and listening comprehension, increase focus, engage students in learning, and make the entire process more fun for students and teachers alike--a win-win for any class!