Using Podcasts in the Classroom

After having read the article “What Teens are Learning From ‘Serial’ and Other Podcasts” I gained some great insight on how to use podcasts in the classroom, and why it can be such a useful tool. First of all, when I was going through high school, which was just a few short years ago, I never had the chance to listen to podcasts. Well, I suppose they were readily available on our iPhones, iPods or iPads if we ever wanted to listen to them, but what I am trying to say is that we were never given the opportunity to listen to them inside of the classroom as part of our lesson. Yes, it is a very uncommon tool for teachers to incorporate podcasts into the curriculum, but maybe that can change.

In the article above the interviewee, who is a teacher, discusses his students’ reactions to his incorporation of a specific podcast entitled ‘Serial’. He says that students who had a tendency to never do their homework would always be eager to listen to the podcasts. He also says that students would skip other classes to go listen to the podcasts in his classroom for the second time. Now, why he allowed some students to skip another class to go to his does not really make sense to me, but that is beside the point here. The kids were entertained by the podcasts and were always ready for more.

The podcasts also stuck to some Common Core standards. One of these is to improve students’ listening skills, and what better way to do that than through audio! As opposed to reading, the students do not have to worry about following along with a book and attempting to comprehend the words they have never seen before and, therefore, getting stuck on a page or losing their focus on the meaning of the content. With strictly using audio the students only have to focus on one of their five sense, and that is hearing. This allows their brains to focus on one thing at a time, which will boost their comprehension of the content.

Podcasts also allow students to use their imaginations. Because the content is through audio the students must picture the story being told mentally, which can lead to different interpretations for almost every student. Now, different interpretations is great for classroom discussions. If everyone agreed on the same thing then there wouldn’t be much of a discussion to be had. It would just be students agreeing with one another by nodding their heads up and down. The classroom would like a stockpile of human-sized bobble heads.

Lastly, the students are forced to pay attention. If a student doesn’t listen to what is being said in the podcast then they may miss an important piece of information, which will confuse the student. There is no other way for the student to receive that missing piece of information without rewinding the podcast and listening to it again.

Podcasts can be such a useful tool in the classroom, and I know that someday I will incorporate them into my curriculum as a teacher.


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