A podcast can be used to bring life, meaning, and instructional presence to a course or a training program. It can be described as “an audio recording of course-related content” (Marrocco, Kazer, & Neal-Boylan, 2014, p. 50). It is also accessible through multiple forms of technology, such as the modern day cell phone or ipad (Marrocco, Kazer, & Neal-Boylan, 2014).
Podcasts can be used as instructional strategies in a number of ways. Rather than simply using traditional written lecture notes, course material, or feedback, the audio component of podcasts can reach different learning styles and preferences of participants. Through voice intonations and expressions, podcasts can change the tone of written work and they may also create more personal connections with learners. Along these same lines, podcasts can also be used as introductions with learners (Bradbury, 2016), and with this kind of interactive beginning in a training program or course, learners may feel a greater sense of connection or a stronger rapport with their instructors and peers.
One 21st century goal is to create a global presence for learners. Podcasts can help to achieve this presence, in that students can be connected with peers in their learning communities, and they can be connected with their local, regional, and global communities as well (Bradbury, 2016). Specifically, through podcasting, ideas can be expressed, knowledge can be shared, and stories can be communicated in many different venues and with many different audiences, and therefore learning is not contained to the traditional classroom setting (Bradbury, 2016). Rather, podcasts are far-reaching and they have the capacity to connect with broad audiences all over the world (Bradbury, 2016).
Optimal learning methods for integrating the podcast include introducing the audio tool to participants at times and places where they can truly listen. Encourage participants to listen to the podcast when they are in a quiet place, such as during a long drive when there are minimal interruptions (Bradbury, 2016), or early in the morning or late at night when the distractions and noise in their learning environments are minimal. If the podcasts are used as course introductions, be sure that participants have access to the tool at the very beginning of the course. Similarly, if podcasts are used as feedback, be certain that the tool is accessible immediately after students have completed assignments. In general, be sure that the tool is available, accessible, and integrated into the learning environment in times and places that are aligned with the purpose of the tool. Also be sure the integration is relevant, meaningful, and applicable to learners’ needs.
To get started, create a plan for how you will use the podcast (Bradbury, 2016). One way that you can do this is to identify the podcast's purpose and audience. In addition, write down the key content areas that need to be addressed and covered. While recording, be sure not to sound as though you are reading from a script (Bradbury, 2016). Reading from scripts can sound monotone and disengaging. Instead, bring instructional presence to your audio work by pretending that the students are standing in front of you as you talk and record. Be sure to listen to the podcast before it goes live, and prepare for the possibility of needing to make adjustments along the way. In addition, ask a peer to listen to your podcast before you share it with participants. Be sure to be open-minded to your peer's feedback, and welcome suggestions. Good luck!
Note: The picture on this page is of my son listening and reading. For him, listening and seeing at the same time are significant aspects of how he learns. Do you have a photo, illustration, or story about what podcasts look like or mean to you? Please share.
A quick guide for learning about podcasts: https://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/SciRefGuides/podcasting.html
Best sources for podcasts:
Bradbury, J. (2016). Podcasts expand classroom walls. Education Digest. 81-8, 46-48.
Marrocco, G. F., Kazer, M.W., & Neal-Boylan, L. (2014). Transformational learning in graduate nurse education through podcasting. Nursing Education Perspectives. 35-1, 49-53.