How to use podcast as a teaching tool: Part II

Following the last post where he described the benefits and potential of using podcasts in teaching, Dmitrijs shares some practical advice on incorporating these resources in your own teaching practice.

From my experience, there are two ways how you can infuse your teaching practice with this amazing resource. The first one is to give your students a selection of podcasts to listen to. This is probably most common and there are, indeed, great recordings of important lectures out there (especially on iTunes U). That being said, unless you are going to share Talking About Organizations with your students, please don’t do this as it will almost certainly not work. Why not? Refer back to first post where I spoke of engagement. This also applies to should you record some podcasts yourself (to supplement the lecture materials or similar). In any case, best not to.

The Second way of using podcasts for teaching is rather more exciting! You get students to produce their own podcasts as part of their assessment. Here is how this can be done with very minimal effort/disruption:

  1. Have part of the module assessment approved for groups presentations (usually can get up to 50% in the UK) – this will be the podcast. The rest can be done via exam or individual essay, or whatever else you need to do. In my experience, it is best to lead with the individual assessment in Term 1, and finish with the podcast in Term 2.
  2. Divide the module into groups of five-ish and assign different topics. It is important that they do not have repetition in their assignments.
  3. The task can be formulated as such: to produce a 15 or 21 minute podcast (15 minutes is approx a 3000-word script and 21 minutes is approx a 5000-word script, but encourage to record and include expert interviews or anything else) on the assigned topic/question. The content must include an overview of the topic, state the relevance, touch on the main debates and close with the implications. The podcast must display production value by delivering clear, understandable and engaging audio track as well as an opening and closing jingle music.
  4. Students go away and do their research (more on this just below), record the podcast (anything that can record voice is sufficient), edit it with free software such as Audacity and submit either on the University server or literally anywhere else (e.g. Dropbox, Google Drive). Just make sure the submissions are in .mp3 or the files will be just enormous.
  5. Now, the grading for this is two-stage. First, you grade as you would a presentation. Second, have the students grade each others podcasts (this is why they ought to be on different topics) on a scale of 0-5. Using ‘stars’ for this would be most familiar to them as this is how its usually done literally anywhere.
  6. Calculate average student score for each podcast and apply the following weighing: 0 for Zero, 0.8 for One, 0.9 for Two, 1 for Three, 1.1 for Four, and 1.2 for Five. Then multiply the mark you have given during Stage one of the grading process by whatever is the student weighing the podcast achieved. For example, if your mark was 70% and the podcast achieved 4 stars, then the final mark will be 70 x 1.1 = 77% ! Done! Students will appreciate the novelty of the task and an element of peer assessment (or so they say!) and you have fewer marking to do none of which is monotonous.
Image credits: Peet Sneekes/CC BY-NC 2.0

What do the students get out of this? Quite a lot, to be honest. In terms of mechanics of putting the recording together they would need to:

1) do the research on the topic, both superficial and more in-depth to identify debates and come up with implications;

2) write a script, which will require them to come up with a story that is not only informative but also engaging (e.g. begin with formulating a problem, follow up with an illustrative case study/anecdote, give general background,  state main issues/criticisms/problems with the general theory, follow this by main debates and tie up by answering the initial problem and saying what the implications are);

3) record the script, which is an exercise in public speaking, diction and presentation;

4) edit the podcast, which develops technical skills and aesthetic sensitivity;

5) listen to and grade all the other podcasts thus learning about the remaining topics.

In curriculum-speak this would translate as 1) (and also 5) developing in-depth knowledge of the subject area, 2) developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills, 3) developing leadership and public speaking skills, 4) acquiring presentation skills. To make things more fun you can then actually post the podcast on iTunes every year for added impact/exposure.

Podcasts are fun, simple, relevant and incredibly rewarding things to make! The same can no longer be said for traditional forms of assessment and/or module delivery. Did you know that something like 33% of all Americans have listened or are listening to a podcast (the survey was in 2012 I think)? How amazing is that?

Using podcasts for teaching also defeats the issue of engagement (simpler, more convenient and, as an assignment, frankly mandatory) and the space that it a lecture theatre or a seminar room (podcasts are produced in (home) studios, require problem solving and can be consumed anywhere and at any time). And it is incredibly easy for you, as a tutor, to incorporate them into your teaching practice! Try using podcast as a teaching tool and you will be giving your students a very tangible and relevant skill and an interesting final product they’d be able to share and show. Not to mention that you will significantly improve your quality of life during exam period!

All this is based purely on my personal experiences of producing TAOP and applying exactly what I described above on two modules at the Warwick Business School, UK. With that in mind, please get in touch to tell me what you think of all this, whether you’ve tried something like this and to what effect, and if you’d like to discuss any of this in more detail.

Dmitrijs Kravcenko is a Doctoral Researcher at the University of Warwick Business School, IKON Research Centre. His research interests revolve around innovation, organisational knowledge and collective memory. Dmitrijs can be found hosting his critically acclaimed Talking About Organizations Podcast or on Twitter and Instagram

This article was originally published on the blog of Talking About Organizations – a conversational podcast about key topics in management and organisation studies.

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