I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “I’m not a radio host! I don’t have an on air personality. I don’t have it in me to plan and record a weekly series.” All those things may be true. But those are not necessarily requirements for creating course content in podcast form.
If you’re in the process of a course design or revision, then you are involved in a planning process, and planning is ninety percent of the project. And if you are already thinking to record a lecture or explanation of concepts on camera, it’s possible that a podcast will best serve the needs of your students–particularly if your explanation has no visual component.
What are podcasts?
In popular culture, we have come to know podcasts as episodic disbursements of an audio series that we download or stream on our computers, tablets, or smart phones. Excellent examples include Mohr Stories, Moth Radio Hour, Freakonomics Radio, and Serial. And being that we live in an on-demand culture, we need not be present at the moment of broadcast, unlike broadcast television or, going back further, radio dramas.
When should I podcast?
Since podcasts can be informal in tone, recording a podcast is an excellent way to showcase your personality and create instructor presence in your online course. When students all seem to be asking the same question about an assignment or assigned content, making an audio recording can be a quicker, more memorable way to distribute your response. Impromptu audio recording is shown to be three times faster than typing, and you won’t spend added time editing yourself to appear grammatical or academic.
Below are a few examples of podcasts that are already creating an impact in online courses.
Examples of Podcasts as Content
PREDICT 472 – Analytics Consulting with Nethra Sambamoorthi and Marianne Seiler brings together consultative processes and tools for creating a trusted advisor relationship with clients. In addition to process and project management practices, the course dives heavily into client engagement and career challenges. To help demonstrate and model best practices, Marianne Seiler recorded interviews with program alumni turned industry professionals on topics ranging from starting your own firm, to handling bumps in the road, to understanding client needs, to lessons learned and words of career advice. Although these podcasts are optional, the course is designed for students near graduation who are about decide on the path their career will take. Should I work for a large firm? Should I go out on my own? Only the listeners will know for sure.
The process for interviews can be more lengthy, but not necessarily unwieldy. Initially, you must identify your interview subjects and determine what topics they will cover. Then you will prepare a list of questions for them, and share them in advance. Impromptu banter and questioning are encouraged, but it is best to start with a framework that aligns with your content.
Your interviewees need not script their answers, but it does not hurt for them to outline what they might say, or rehearse likely responses. This helps them to come off sounding prepared and informed, eliminating long thinking pauses, and filler words like “um” and “uh.” This will also help them to deliver as much information at once in a succinct fashion without needing to re-record, or regret not mentioning something earlier. And, of course, you should schedule the interviews at a time that is convenient for all involved.
Once the recording is complete, you will need to review it entirely, and work with your design team to determine if it is good as-is, or requires cuts and edits. If so, you will fill out a template of in points and out points that our staff will use to edit and produce the final cuts.
Storytelling and Explanation
ACCOUNT 210/211 – Intermediate Accounting with Simona Citron covers accounting theory and concepts, as well as analysis of special problems that may arise when applying these underlying concepts. What better way to illustrate problems that arise in accounting then with stories and analysis of accounting blunders and board meeting conspiracies ripped from the headlines? With assistance from Beth Kane, the duo researched real world accounting issues that aligned directly with course objectives and produced podcasts as optional materials. All students can complete the course without listening to the podcasts. But for students with greater industry interest looking to discuss and draw lessons from these examples, these podcasts offer students that resource.
The process for recording industry anecdotes and explanations requires fewer steps than an interview. You will need to script your story or explanation, no matter how many times you have delivered the information before. While you may not read word for word off the page, the exercise of scripting or developing a detailed outline will help to ensure no detail is left out. To aid you in this process, we recommend using voice-to-type tools. That way, you can orate the story as you might for the recording, delivering in the tone and inflections that are natural to storytelling, and not so in writing. Your design team will review the script to ensure alignment, and set you up with the tools to record your podcast.
One particular advantage of pursuing podcasting as content is that you likely have access to the tools needed to create and publish your work. All you need are either a web conferencing tool with recording capability, or a recording device to capture your story or conversations. Can you Identify the tools within your reach that can do these things?
To record conversations over distance, BlueJeans and Google Hangouts on Air are prime examples of web conference tools capable of recording conversations from multiple inputs, excellent for recording interviews or panel discussions.
Cell phones, tablets and laptops are also devices up to the task of podcast recording. One particular advantage of mobile devices are their ability to record offline. As long as your battery is charged, or plugged in you can record your session anywhere.
- BlueJeans for recording interviews or discussions over distance.
- Cell phone, tablet, or laptop for explanations, storytelling or in person discussions.
In summary, podcasting your content is an excellent and economical option for creating content that is conversational and highly engaging. As an industry practitioner, there is likely no shortage of topics or content to work from. Chances are high that your students are already engaged with podcast content outside of class, which makes it a familiar experience for them, and a built in audience for you. And developing your content is as easy as planning, recording and publishing.