This resource is for instructors who wish to incorporate audio projects and assignments into their courses.
Podcasting and audio projects can be effective assessments for instructors who are looking to see how their students are faring in narrative development, voice, audience engagement, and draft remediation. Students tend to view multimodal projects with skepticism because they’ve either already done a similar project and it was not scaled in a way that made it easy for students to get started, or they’re intimidated by the technology used to create multimodal projects. [ref]Cordulack, Evan. 2012. “Student Thoughts About Podcasting Assignments.” Blog. Academic Technology: At the College of William and Mary. August 2, 2012. http://at.blogs.wm.edu/student-thoughts-about-podcasting-assignments/.[/ref] Thankfully, this medium is one instructors have incorporated from a short voice recording exercise all the way to a fully produced show with multiple episodes.
What is podcasting?
“Podcasts are a series of audio only programs. Most are released on a regular basis – every day, every week or a couple of times each month – and can deal with most any topic imaginable.” [ref]Riddle, Randy. 2016. “Getting Started with Student Podcast Assignments.” Blog. Duke: Learning Innovation. February 5, 2016. https://learninginnovation.duke.edu/blog/2016/02/getting-started-with-student-podcast-assignments/.[/ref] Instructors can assign podcasts that are either individual, small projects, or as a class project with an entire course.
What skills do students need to learn in order to successfully create a podcast?
The narrative is the most important part of the podcast, so everything that supports analytical writing is also important to develop in the context of the assignment design: research, synthesis, analysis. Students often find that having an annotated bibliography before they start crafting their show notes helps them to think about how to frame their citations verbally. If students are required or encouraged to interview someone, a portion of class time should also be dedicated to talking about the professionalization of an interview, release forms for the interview subject, as well as how to write good interview questions that prompt a rich response.
The technology necessary to capture the audio is also not something to discount. Will your students be recording in a studio or out in the wild? If they’re in the studio, who can show your students how to start/stop the recording on a sound board? If students are out in the wild, they’ll not only need to learn how to use a portable audio recorder, but they also need to learn about environmental noise when they’re recording. For example, if a student is recording in an office building (not in a studio), is the HVAC system rattling a ceiling tile? These are considerations that students might have to be prepared for in order to capture good quality audio. This LibGuide highlights the equipment that students can check out via the Cofrin Library. Some specific tools that students might find useful are the digital voice recorder and the USB microphone, which they can use to record directly into Audacity.
The applications used to edit audio are also something students need to learn how to use. Open source audio editing applications like Audacity are easy to use, but take some getting used to; and more professional applications like Adobe Audition require even more time to use well.
What do instructors need to know about making podcasts public?
Going public with a show or a series of episodes might involve setting up cloud-based subscriptions with platforms like SoundCloud or students can upload the shows to a content management system like WordPress. Going public depends on an intended audience as well as the longevity of the show.
Here are a few options:
- If you’re just making the show available to other students in the class, you can ask students to use our UW System multimedia streaming service called Kaltura. Students can upload their audio files and secure URLs to those media recordings.
- If you’re making the show available to an audience via a website, students might want to use the first option as a way to host their audio, but then embed the audio into a website. Note: this does not mean that the episodes will be discoverable within the iTunes Store, Google Play Store, or Stitcher.
- If students must have their shows appear in the iTunes Store, Google Play or other streaming services they’ll need to have a validated RSS feed to which their episodes are published, as well as the ability to use an Apple ID to submit the show for review (iTunes Store >> Podcasts Connect) and a Google Play account to submit their show for validation.
- Arthropod Ecology Example Assignment [ref]Buddle, Chris. 2013. “Hear This! Podcasts as an Assessment Tool in Higher Education.” Blog. Arthropod Ecology. August 23, 2013. https://arthropodecology.com/2013/08/28/hear-this-podcasts-as-an-assessment-tool-in-higher-education/[/ref]
- Project Audio: Teaching Students How to Produce Their Own Podcasts [ref]Hicks, Justin, Laura Winnick, and Michael Gonchar. 2018. “Project Audio: Teaching Students How to Produce Their Own Podcasts.” New York Times, April 19, 2018, sec. Learning. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/19/learning/lesson-plans/project-audio-teaching-students-how-to-produce-their-own-podcasts.html.[/ref]
- University of Washington, Middlebury, Drexel, and more![ref] Coghlan, Elisa, David Futey, Julie Little, Cyprien Lomas, Diana Oblinger, and Carie Windham. 2007. “ELI Discovery Tool: Guide To.” Educause. https://library.educause.edu/~/media/files/library/2007/1/eli8005-pdf.pdf.[/ref]
This is a planning document that might help you think through the project longevity: Podcasts for Course Content, Student
Assignments & Program Development [ref]Jones, Blake, and Jason Johnson. 2017. “Podcasts for Course Content, Student & Program Development.” Higher E-Learning. http://higherelearning.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Podcasting-in-Education-Plan.pdf.[/ref]
This rubric might help instructors articulate tasks as well as the criteria by which students are assessed: UW Stout Podcast Rubric[ref]Bell, Ann. 2018. “Podcast Rubric.” A+ Rubric, University of Wisconsin – Stout. November 15, 2018. https://www2.uwstout.edu/content/profdev/rubrics/podcastrubric.html [/ref]
Here are some sample learning outcomes that instructors might use to craft their own podcasting assignment: Hear This! Podcasts as an assessment tool in higher education [ref]Buddle, Chris. 2013. “Hear This! Podcasts as an Assessment Tool in Higher Education.” Blog. Arthropod Ecology. August 23, 2013. https://arthropodecology.com/2013/08/28/hear-this-podcasts-as-an-assessment-tool-in-higher-education/ [/ref]
Common pitfalls to address before you start grading: Four Mistakes I Made When Assigning Podcasts [ref] Cordulack, Evan. 2012. “Four Mistakes I Made When Assigning Podcasts.” The Chronicle of Higher Education. ProfHacker. July 18, 2012. https://www.chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/four-mistakes-i-made-when-assigning-podcasts/41377 [/ref]
Who to contact for help:
- CATL@UWGB.EDU can help you create an assignment from scratch or revise an existing assignment.
- UW-Green Bay does have a studio on campus that students can use on a “check out” basis, but it is used for multiple classes and projects, so it’s imperative that you contact us early to make sure we can accommodate those recording requests.