Podcasts in Education (ITGS Project + Ideas)

When I used to build houses I often had to drive around a lot. I was usually in a hurry and, of course, found traffic incredibly frustrating.  But I always looked forward to the radio.  Often I played music but I was also soothed by the great programming on OBP, the Portland local NPR affiliate. I listened to The World, and Terry Gross, Morning Edition, This American Life, All Things Considered, etc, etc. I have learned much from those great programs and had my fair share of “driveway moments” where I would stay in the truck listening to the end of a particularly great story.  Needless to say I have welcomed the recent explosion of podcasts with open arms.  Now I don’t have to wait in my car for these stories. I can—and do!—listen to them everywhere.


(My current podcast queue. I use the app RSS radio. It’s not without some fast but overall I have found it much easier to keep track of subscriptions and play/delete/keep them than any of the other apps out there. RadioLab is probably my consistent favorite–its science stories are so well done–but all of these have have strong moments. Terry Gross and Alec Baldwin are my favorite interviewers, but 99 percent invisible, Invisibilia, and Gastropod always teach me something.  (LSE are usually just really interesting recorded lectures so I miss many of those). There are so many more I have yet to discover! 

Teaching ITGS, a class that is specifically about technology changing the world, it didn’t take too long for me to introduce podcasts as a type of homework and project. Over the 2 year ITGS class years I have assigned probably 10-12 podcasts for students to listen to. They have been some of my favorites. 99% Invisible, a podcast dedicated to design has been particularly excellent, as has the TED radio hour and the new IT focused podcast Reply all

This term to help prepare students for their upcoming IB exams, and in particular the Paper 2 step-by-step and stakeholder analysis. I had students work in partners to identify a technology that is being used here at ASM for educational purposes, and then create a professional quality podcast about that technology. They had to cover all Paper 2 Content areas (Stakeholders, social-ethical concern, IT step-by-step, evaluate impacts), but they were given creative license to structure it as they liked (see rubric below).  I received permission from this year’s students to post their podcasts here.

All of them are good. In particular the first one is hilarious with its mock squarespace ad (they’ve listened to alot of those in the podcasts I’ve assigned this year).  I would also highlight the last one as exceptional for the in depth examination of how technology changes learning.

Here was the Rubric I gave students to help prepare and marked the podcast with:

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Using Podcasts as Supplements in Middle School 

My middle school Ancient Civilization students have not been excluded from my podcast assignments. I want to introduce them to the great world of radio programing also.  For example I assigned the fantastic Radiolab podcast on the mystery surrounding how the defrosted iceman Otzi died.  This story is simply amazing and the podcast focuses on the science that was used to discover Otzi’s injuries and the crazy journeys he undertook (at least according to the scientific analysis his last meals). All discovered over 5,000 years after he died. It’s so incredibly fascinating.  The kids loved it and couldn’t stop talking about it for weeks. In the end nearly half the class choose to do the Extra Credit and write a brief summary, and even more listened to it.

Podcasts as language supplement:  

I can’t tell you how much podcasts helped me learn Spanish.  See my page on my challenges in learning spanish for a great list of the most helpful podcasts I found. 

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