Podcasts in the Classroom

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While listening to the latest Freakonomics podcast (http://freakonomics.com/podcast/ask-not-what-your-podcast-can-do-for-you/), I was delighted to hear about efforts to personalize the education experience for high school students through that medium.

For those of you not yet in on the fun, podcasts are recordings that can be either streamed or downloaded. You can find podcast channels with segments on almost any topic from sports to politics to dating. Obviously for the classroom setting, students focus on their subject matter such as social studies or science. Given I LOVE the social studies, here are some of my favorites for newbies:

Freakonomics (Oddities of Economics)

Planet Money (NPR Personal Finance)

Toastmasters Podcast (Speaking Skills – occasionally hit or miss but usually good)

Under the Influence (Marketing)

Candidate Confessional (Political analysis of failed political campaigns by the politicians and advisers themselves)

We all have students in class who are constantly fiddling with the cell phones or want to put in their ear buds – by incorporating podcasts, these classes adapt to student habits. But more importantly, education becomes personalized. Each student can listen to a different (teacher-approved) podcast that fits their interests. By making the learning differentiated and relevant to students, the result is a more authentic learning experience. For example, while studying Campaigns and Elections in Civics, students can choose a podcast segment from Candidate Confessional and understand how one politician’s experience relates to the facts in the textbook. It will make it more real.

Once I earn my professional teaching license this Spring, I look forward to bringing this technology to my own high school classroom in the Fall. Having already designed a course curriculum at Harper College, I know how to plan and collaborate with my department and the administration to bring innovative ideas into the classroom. As such, I would be able to bring podcasts into classes such as US Civics. There is always something of interest to each student and this tool can help us educators find those ways to engage every single young adult.


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