Using Podcasts in teaching

I’m a big podcast fan. Every morning I try and start my day with one and I’ve recently started to document this ‘journey’ on Twitter, partly for my own interest but also to help anyone else looking to use podcasts but who, maybe, are unsure of which ones to select and listen to. My podcasts topics encompass a wide range of topics from politics to sport to mindset and to education. In the last year, I’ve attempted to use podcasts as much as theoretically possible in my lessons and have started the process of explaining the purpose and rationale to my pupils.

Why is using podcasts beneficial in teaching?

  • A new and different medium to transmit knowledge
  • Access to podcasts can easily be achieved through an electronic device
  • A vehicle to expand pupil knowledge and pique their interest aside from the textbook
  • A way to connect information and draw links within the course to wider and more up-to-date news
  • Pupils can listen to podcasts in their own time
  • It is a great approach to promoting story telling
  • Instead of just reading information, pupils can hear the voice behind certain projects or viewpoints
  • Pupils can access information from leading academics or commentators in a variety of different fields
  • Often they are short and created with entertainment in mind
  • Most podcasts are free
  • It can be a way to improve and enhance literacy and widen pupil vocabulary
  • Links to future ambitions and opportunities to create their own

What do you need to be careful of when using podcasts in teaching?

  • Length – how long do you want the podcast to be you are sharing? Do you need to select certain parts?
  • Purpose – why have you selected that particular podcast? What links does it have to what you are studying?
  • Pre-Listen – have you already listened to the podcast yourself? Where are the transitions? Where are the specific areas that you need to pick up on?
  • Rationale – do the pupils really understand why you are introducing them to or using a podcast?
  • Activity – what do you want the pupils to do while they are listening to the podcast?

10 ways to using podcasts in your teaching:

  1. Question Crib Sheet

The most simple approach. Pupils listen to a podcast and complete a question and answer style sheet while doing this. This note-taking style exercise can be structured in different formats and can feed into classroom discussions and further explanations. It could also represent a ‘fill in the blank’ style structure.

  1. Reflection Activity

No question crib sheet is set for pupils to complete while they are listening to the podcast but instead, pupils are asked to write their reflections on their understanding of the information afterwards. This can be done in a note-taking format or can be done in paragraphs.

  1. Prediction Activity

Provide pupils with a pre-made summary of the podcast and ask them to predict what might happen next, what the presenter may go on to talk about, how it links to your course or what vocabulary they may use. Reflect on your predictions at the end and discuss arguments.

  1. Glossary Activity

Provide pupils with a glossary of any key terms or vocabulary that are used in the podcast and, within the specific context, ask them to work out what those terms may mean. The glossary could also be pre-completed and can be used as a guide when listening.

  1. Creating their own Podcast

Pupils are asked or given the option to create their own podcast relating to a particular topic they are studying.

  1. Summarising within the flow of the lesson (Seminar Style)

Play the podcast (or a part of the podcast) within the lesson itself and stop at certain points for a question and answer style reflection activity. Pupils are not required to write anything but instead verbalise their reflections or summaries at certain points.

  1. Creating a bank of podcasts

Putting together a catalogue of useful podcasts and sharing this with pupils to listen to in their own time. A ‘Podcast List’ to complement any ‘Wider Reading’ lists you may have in your department.

  1. Further Research

Focus on the podcaster themselves and ask pupils to research the individual further and reflect on how they came to be making a podcast themselves on that particular topic. The channel can also be researched as well.

  1. Creative Activities

Pupils could engage with the podcaster through ‘writing them a letter’ or ‘creating a poster summarising the podcast or in an attempt to sell it’. This could also be a homework task or creative project or assessment.

  1. Turn your lessons into podcasts

This has partly come from using Teams but ensure all of your lessons are recorded and saved and these can be used as future podcasts for catch-up or lessons moving forward.

Below are some of the podcasts I currently listen to:

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