Podcasts can be effective teaching tools for students of all ages. I have consistently used podcasts as part of my higher education curriculum and am now sharing them with younger listeners. I volunteer at a DJ camp for kids ages 13-17, and this past summer when we added podcasts as a free-time activity, the response was amazing.
Podcasts have an established space in my teaching toolbox for three primary reasons. Along the way, audio has led me to become a better educator, increased retention and efficiency for my business school students, and enriched the lives of aspiring DJs.
Personal Learning and Development
As a new adjunct professor at California State University – Fullerton within the Center For Entertainment & Hospitality Management, I was fortunate enough to attend several high-quality training sessions to prepare me to teach at the college level.
The training provided a framework for developing an engaging syllabus and best practices for preparing assignments, examinations, and successful group projects. I also had the opportunity to visit several high-performing professors’ classes to observe their techniques and strategies.
Despite having notes, books, and articles with great amounts of information, I was still thirsting for resources. It was then that I searched specifically for podcasts to help create the best learning environment possible. I planned to listen consistently, leading up to and throughout the semester.
The Cult of Pedagogy by Jennifer Gonzalez was the perfect place to start. After quickly consuming a few episodes to get the feel of the show, I reached out to Jennifer on Twitter.
I listened to the recommended Cult of Pedagogy interview with Norman Eng three times back to back, took notes, and purchased Eng’s book. I cannot overemphasize how much this one episode assisted me over my first three semesters.
From the episode, I was able to create a survey system that allows me to get to know my new students at a higher level. Finally, I could hear directly from students about what they look for in professors, and what mistakes to avoid.
The Cult of Pedagogy also connected me with convenient resources like Teachers Pay Teachers. Its immense database of templates includes popular games, forms, and checklists. Any teacher will tell you that creating these from scratch can be a huge time investment.
In early June of this year, Jennifer interviewed Patrice Bain and Pooja Agarwal, authors of the book Powerful Teaching. Again, I quickly decided that this would be my summer reading. Strategies and techniques like “retrieval practice” helped me transform my classroom this fall semester.
Thanks to podcasts, auditory learners now have greater opportunities to engage with coursework.
The majority of my students work full-time, take care of their families, and have commitments that limit the time they have to read and prepare for class. One of my first goals was to meet my students on their “playing field” in terms of communicating materials and assignments.
I have used podcasts to enhance the material we cover in class and will develop quizzes from assigned episodes. It’s an efficient, time-maximizing system for the many students that commute over 30 minutes to Cal State – Fullerton. When it comes time to study for final exams, it is easy to re-listen to the podcast, not having to reread large sections of text. Finally, I encourage my students to use audio snippets, or mini-podcasts, as a portion of their group project presentations.
I am committed to opening the door for my students. Podcasts are becoming a crucial part of branding and marketing, and business school students need to be aware of podcasting’s outreach power for companies and entertainment professionals alike.
The sooner my students get comfortable with listening to, discovering, and sharing podcasts as learning tools, the more opportunities they’ll find.
The Perfect Camp Activity
For the past five years, I have volunteered as a counselor at Camp Spin-Off, a program for kids ages 13-17 who are interested in DJ’ing and Music Production. The brainchild of DJ Tina T, Camp Spin-Off draws kids from all over the world for six days and five nights each summer.
Throughout each day, campers learn about DJ skills, music production, and the music business. They get to visit with guest speakers — professional working DJs and music producers.
This year, we decided to add the Camp Spin Off Podcast as a creative option for the campers’ free time. They can go swimming, rock climbing, and do arts and crafts, but podcasting became very popular.
The campers were responsible for recording episodes, interviewing guests (and each other), producing the final episode and releasing it on the standard platforms, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify. We discovered that a portion of the campers were interested in audio production, while others enjoyed the responsibility of interviewing guests.
The energy and zeal that campers showed in learning and producing the podcast was contagious — a great sign for the future of the podcasting industry. Our final product was on par with podcasts who have been around for years.
From the modern college classroom to summer camp, students everywhere can benefit from creating and listening to podcasts. Are there any teachers reading who have used podcasts in their curriculum? Feel free to send me your thoughts! I look forward to learning new strategies from you.
Amani Roberts is a full-time DJ (DJ AmRo), music producer, podcaster and an adjunct professor at Cal State University – Fullerton in the Mihaylo College of Business and Economics. You can learn more about his podcast, The Amani Experience Podcast, by searching on your podcasting platform of choice. Amani’s first book will be released in the fall of 2019. Follow his journey on socials (@AmaniExperience) and connect with him on LinkedIn as well. In his free time, Amani loves to read, cook and continue to improve his salsa dancing skills. Send him your latest book recommendations!