New technology always has a heavy impact on education, and podcasting is no different. Many learning institutions are cutting back on textbooks and investing in technology-enhanced learning. Podcasting, as one of the latest mediums to emerge into the mainstream, is one of the forefront technologies in this change. In this article, I'll show you how podcasting in education can increase accessibility and encourage engagement.
Podcasting offers the opportunity for lecturers to easily broadcast engaging audio content, which students can then listen to at any time and wherever they are. A student only needs to subscribe to a podcast feed and suddenly you can push educational content to them, rather than wait for them to come. Podcasts can easily be used in schools, universities or colleges to engage students, and improve your teaching and learning practice.
Many learning institutions which have incorporated podcasting in their education system, have reported really positive results. This can be attributed to the ease of creating and consuming podcasts as well as the various ways in which education podcasts enhance the students' learning experience. There are a lot of advantages of podcasting in education. Let's take a look:
Flexible Availability – 24 Hours a Day
One of the greatest advantages of education podcasts is the portability and convenience they offer. Podcasts can be downloaded to a mobile device, allowing the student to access the learning resources anytime, anywhere, with very little effort.
There are free podcast subscription apps available for every smartphone, and these make the process even easier. In fact, iPhones come with an excellent podcast app (Apple Podcasts) installed by default.
Once the student has subscribed to a show (which you can make available really easily), they don't have to initiate the download: it's sent automatically to their app whenever a new episode is available. So, as soon as they sit down on the bus, there's a teaching resource there waiting for them. This makes podcasts very convenient and also paves the way for truly flexible learning.
There's also an option to create a private podcast if you'd only like it to be accessible to your students and nobody else. Here, all the principles are the same, but you'll just need to send them all a unique link or password so they can access the content. You can learn more about this in our guide to setting up a private podcast for students.
Students Listen for Longer Than They'll Watch or Read
One of the great powers of podcasting is the attention it attracts. It's tricky to encourage students to spend 30 minutes reading an article or watching a recorded lecture. That's because text and video require the student's full attention – they need to sit patiently, doing just one thing. As you probably know, this is tricky, not least because of the range of distractions just sitting waiting on the next browser tab.
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Podcasting, on the other hand, can be done in otherwise wasted time, or alongside a routine activity. Students are far more likely to listen and consume your material if they can do it on the bus, driving the car, washing the dishes or in the gym. Because they're already distracted with a rote task, the content gets great attention. While text and video struggle to attract 2 or 3 minutes of viewing, podcasts routinely run an hour or more. One of the most popular shows in the world is a history podcast that can run for 3+ hours!
If one guy can persuade listeners to stick around for 3 hours at a time to learn about World War 1, then you should be able to manage 10 minutes on your own show.
Student Created Content
One of the most interesting and valuable uses of Podcasting in Education is the concept of student created content.
You might allow students to create their own podcast, perhaps including questions, discussions, presentations or projects. These can then be made available to their classmates. This allows students to take control of an aspect of their education and, therefore, encourages engagement in the material. They can question, they can contribute and they can teach each other.
Podcasting in Education: Lecture Review
One of the simplest uses of podcasting is to record your existing lectures. This makes them easily accessible to students and creates invaluable study aids.
If you're recording lectures in-person, then a wireless mic system might be your best option. If you're delivering your classes online, then there are plenty of options to record remote conversations too. The obvious choice for many teachers these days is Zoom. Here's our full guide on how to record a podcast.
Students can use the podcast for reference purposes or when preparing themselves for upcoming examinations. Any student who had challenges understanding a topic in the classroom can listen to this podcast. They can study the content and understand the topic at their own pace.
This capacity to review, again and again, is particularly valuable to students from an international background or with learning difficulties.
Finally, as we mentioned earlier, it's a struggle to encourage students to watch a 1hr video recording of a lecture. Instead, give them audio and they can consume it while they do their chores.
Make up for Missed Classes
When a student misses a class, it's not always because they're lazy. By offering a podcast, your unlucky, sick student who has missed a number of classes can, instead, download recordings of the lectures. As a consequence, they're able to “fill in the gaps”.
Moreover, a lecturer who is unable to attend his or her classes for a week or two can create a podcast of the lecture instead. This is made available to the students and thus makes up for any unattended lectures.
Consistency of Student Experience
Lecture recordings can help a teacher or professor to ensure that they always cover any given topic in the best way possible. This comes in handy when the lecturer in question teaches multiple sessions of the same class. It helps the teacher to ensure that every student gets the same experience, the same information, and that the syllabus is covered uniformly.
Benefits for Mental and Visual Impairments
Perhaps one of the greatest pedagogic characteristics offered by educational podcasting is the chance to learn through listening.
To many of the current student generation, learning through listening is enjoyable and less tedious than reading. Educational podcasts are appealing and may encourage students who don't like reading.
Many students may struggle with reading through mental impairments, such as Dyslexia, and podcasts can be a big aid in this. Podcasts are equally useful in cases where a visual impairment makes traditional learning methods arduous.
Podcasting in Education: Where Next?
Using a podcast in your teaching can encourage your students to engage with your classes, your material and to never miss a thing. Podcasting is one of the best things you could do for your students. Why not give it a try? You'll find all the resources you need to plan, start, and run your show right here.
Your Reading List
- How to Start a Podcast: Every Single Step
- How to Make a Private Podcast for Students
- How to Record a Podcast
- How to Upload a Podcast
If you fancy playing the role of student for a change, you might be interested in joining The Podcast Host Academy, too. In there we have courses, templates, downloadable checklists, and we run weekly live Q&A sessions so you'll always get the advice, support, answers, and feedback that you need.