The following is the latest issue Towards a better teaching advice column. You can ask questions for future columns Here.


Reader question:

Dear Bonnie, I know that you and your husband both have podcasts. You not only like to make podcasts, but you also like to consume them. Do you also use podcasts in teaching? —From an assistant who wants to extend my use of podcasts beyond my own listening

Podcasting is a very powerful and intimate medium. It has authenticity that is difficult to produce in any other communication channel. Alex Blumberg, co-founder and CEO of podcasting network Gimlet Media, shared this intimacy in his 2016 podcasting campaign speech: The second golden age of audioHe emphasized the truth that appeared in what he called “good tapes”:

“When someone tells you something they think is true, you can hear that it is emotionally true. This is why audio is so important.”

But educators don’t have to limit the use of podcasts to personal enrichment. There are many ways to use podcasts to enhance our courses and enjoy them as a learning community.

Extend the learning of the subject

In my business ethics class, the topic of utilitarianism has been discussed a lot.To help them learn more about this framework, the students listened to an episode NPR’s hidden brain podcast.in Halo effect: Why is it so difficult to understand the past, They heard that Denny Gioia used to work as a recall coordinator at Ford, the manufacturer of ultra-compact Pinto cars in the 1970s. Pinto is known for characterizing the problems inherent in making ethical decisions solely on the utilitarian paradigm. Despite safety concerns about Pinto’s fuel tank design, Ford decided not to bear the economic losses involved in the recall. The Hidden Brain episode reveals Jolia’s nagging questions about his role in the final choice about Pinto’s fate. Although Giolia has expressed concerns about the safety of the vehicle, he finally voted not to recall the vehicle. It is very powerful to hear that he was involved in wrestling decades later.

Donald Bullock graduated from Pioneer University in Business in December 2022, and we listened to this episode in class. He recalled this experience:

“I like listening to it so much that I listened to it twice. I also benefited from reading the transcript to refresh my memory of the details of the story. To experience these events through auditory narrative, I can really imagine it in my mind, and The way utilitarianism has an impact on the real world.”


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If the entire podcast does not match the way you are trying to expand student learning, you can make a short film. This American Life has a podcast editing tool called “shortcut,” they shared Shortcut website Is a “web application that allows you to quickly and easily convert your favorite podcast moments into personalized, animated and transcribed videos, which can be shared to social media with one click.” Podcasting application Overcast Allows you to share clips from within the app. As we all know, some parts of podcast episodes are difficult to share, but with these emerging services, it becomes much easier.

Deepen learning through prediction

In James Lang’s Small Teaching: E​​veryday Lessons from the Science of Learning, he emphasized the way that students use predictions to enhance learning. For example, when we predict what will happen next in the story, we can better understand concepts and increase the likelihood of remembering them in the future. Even if our prediction is wrong, Lang said, “Spend a few seconds to predict the answer before learning the answer. Even if the prediction is wrong, it seems to increase the subsequent retention of the learning material. Even if the prediction time is replaced—not Supplement-the same is true for more traditional forms of learning.”

When introducing business students to the three goals common to all economies, I like to use Planet money Podcasts to help them understand price stability. Episode 216: How Four Alcoholics Saved Brazil Describes that Brazil’s high inflation rate causes citizens to lose confidence in the country’s currency. I played the first half of this episode, which described the problem in vivid detail. This episode describes how to:

“Just two decades ago, inflation was so high that grocery stores were raising prices every day. Shoppers would run ahead of workers who changed price tags so they could pay the previous day’s price.

A series of leaders tried to stop inflation, but failed. One person implemented a price freeze. The other froze the bank account. Then, the government invited four economists, they have been talking about how to solve Brazil’s inflation problem for many years. “

About halfway through the show, before the economists came in, I paused the recording and asked the students to work in groups to discuss what they would suggest to the Brazilian leader on how to resolve this situation. I like this exercise very much because it is not only a fascinating story about the economy, but also often allows many students to hear Planet Money episodes that are beyond the scope of the course allocation.

You can extend your students’ learning through the power of audio storytelling, or deepen their learning by letting them predict what will happen next to a podcast show related to real-world events.

Make people move

One of the great advantages of podcasts is their portability. Although you can listen to episodes through a web browser, most people listen to them using a dedicated podcast app on their smartphones. In recent years, I have found that all students can use their mobile phones, and can use the podcasting applications that have been installed, or download one to listen to podcasts in class. In rare cases, someone’s phone is unavailable, and other students in the class will only share their audio with partners for practice. Once we can listen to podcasts on our mobile phones, we no longer need to stay inside the classroom walls or take online courses in front of a computer screen.

In the mind body: how physical space, sensation, and movement affect learning, Susan Hrach encourages us to “take [the learning] external. She transferred the class discussion to an outdoor environment with tables and benches. When reflecting on this experience, one of the students commented: “Being in a new environment makes this class a unique memory. ”

Our university is close to nature reserves and inland deltas, enjoying beautiful views and sea breeze. It takes about three minutes to drive there, away from the heavy traffic of highways and residential streets. I took the students there, let the students choose to divide into two or three groups, and then listened to the podcast while walking away from the place where we all parked. I chose a plot that only takes about 15 minutes. On their way back, each of them shared a key theme that emerged for them from the plot and how they deepened their learning. As the students of Herach pointed out, this experience produced strong memories, and people often talked about it affectionately many years after our course was over.

If it is difficult to relocate yourself to a completely different environment, you can ask the group to find a place outside the classroom to listen to an episode together. When teaching an online course, you can let people choose to take a walk or move their bodies in other ways while listening to an episode, and then dial the phone number to discuss what they have learned later. Web conferencing platforms like Zoom provide phone numbers without having to join through their apps, and there are specialized teleconference services (such as freeconferencecall.com) that provide a centralized phone number for use.

The natural next step might be for students to create their own podcasts to showcase what they have learned in any course you teach.

No matter how you use them, podcasts can be a great way to attract students and foster a powerful learning experience.



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