Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Podcasts by Grace Deason

Do your students ask for real-world examples and varied classroom activities? Do you sometimes suspect that your students have not completed the assigned reading? Podcasts are a fun way to bring course topics to life and promote student engagement. Especially at mid-semester, when students are burned out on reading textbooks, podcasts provide a refreshing alternative to the “usual” course activities.

A podcast is a type of digital media that can be downloaded or streamed online to a computer or mobile device. Some podcasts provide original content and others are archived episodes of radio programs. Some of my own favorites are Radiolab, which combines stories and science, and This American Life, which tells stories related to a central theme. You can even create your own podcasts to which your students can subscribe, or ask students to create podcasts of their own as a class assignment. To find existing podcasts relevant to your course: search Google or the iTunes store, listen to NPR and make a note of stories to look up later, and/or subscribe to podcasts yourself and listen regularly for relevant content. Once you’ve found an existing podcast you’d like to use, there are many ways you can incorporate it into your course. Here are some ideas:
  • Assign the podcast in place of a textbook reading
  • Design a short assignment for students to complete after listening
  • Play the podcast in class followed by a group discussion
  • Explicitly ask students to connect the podcast content to readings and lecture
In my experience, students find podcasts novel, approachable, and memorable. They help students understand concepts from class through vivid examples, and encourage them to apply course material to understand their daily life. If students become fans of an episodic podcast, it can be a source of lifelong learning. I created a GoogleDoc to keep an on-going list of podcasts that I can use to teach psychology. You can view the list HERE.

Submitted by Grace Deason, Psychology