New to podcasts? Take a look at The Listening Learner, Part 1: an explosion in audio for a quick briefing before you dive in here!

What joy it was to step out into the sunshine with my phone and listen to Sally Brown talk to me about assessment and feedback.  To be honest, she wasn’t talking only to me, but her voice was in my ear together with Professor Kay Sambell, discussing the centrality of assessment.  Their Assessment and Feedback podcast is part of the Talking HE series, and is just one in a flourishing field of podcasts aimed at Higher Education.  

I have been listening to podcasts for a while now – some for fun, some for enlightenment and learning, and others recommended by enthusiastic friends and colleagues. According to several sources, there are now more than 2 million podcasts available globally, so curating your list of subscriptions choosing which ones to listen to can easily become a full-time occupation (or obsession!).

If you’re just getting into the world of Higher Ed podcasts, it helps to have a place to start, and to get a sense for the styles and topics on offer. Below I offer a small list of some that I and other colleagues have tried out. There is a particular focus on pedagogy, but also some discipline-specific, edtech-focussed and university-led conversations too.

Podcasts on pedagogy

This is the space where we explore the art and science of being more effective at facilitating learning. We also share ways to increase our personal productivity, so we can have more peace in our lives and be even more present for our students. 

(podcast series Teaching in Higher Education)

Often produced by universities or academics focussing on learning and teaching, there are many podcasts in this space. Long-running US podcast Teaching in Higher Education, for example, is hosted by university professor Bonni Stachowiak. It includes 350+ episodes covering diverse topics including instructional design, open education and educational technology.

Also with a rich back catalogue is Faculty Focus, which pivoted to podcasts from text-based beginnings. It was originally begun by Maryellen Weimer, author of Learner Centred Teaching: Five Key changes to Practice, and covers common topics like student engagement and assessment, teaching online and academic writing. Episodes are short (10-20 mins) and come with a downloadable transcript and lists of recommended resources.

Closer to home, Australian podcast Meet the Education Researcher focuses on emerging issues and the latest ideas from across the world of education research. Host Neil Selwyn from Monash University interviews academics about their current education research in schools, university and beyond. 

Along similar lines, Will Brehm uses conversations with expert academics to make key ideas in educational research more accessible in Fresh Ed. Will also produces Flux, a series where graduate students turn their research interests into narrative-based podcasts.

From astrophysics to zoology: a podcast for every discipline 

For every faculty specialism, there is almost certainly a specialist podcast out there, whether you’re an astrophysicist or a sports psychologist. With such a diversity of topics in this space it is very difficult to choose just one. The Conversation’s podcast series To the moon and beyond is an excellent example of this genre, and accessible to non-specialists too. Australian podcast Engineering Heroes is another example of a discipline-specific podcast, featuring interviews with engineers and the issues they deal with.

Does your university have a podcast?

In Part 1, we heard about some of the podcasts made at UTS on climate, Black Stories Matter and the New Social Contract. Many universities around the world have also been quick to make use of the podcasting medium to share news, ideas and themes relevant to students, alumni and their wider stakeholder communities.

UCL (University College London) is a great example, with dedicated podcasting staff who produce the series Made at UCL, exploring some fantastic research contributions across the disciplines made by UCL academics and alumni.  

Other institutions are using the audio format to share recordings of public events, as well as podcasts. The London School of Economics has a huge and varied programme, for example, covering a broad range of perspectives on economics and political science and an impressive array of global speakers.

Unsurprisingly, some universities are also realising the benefits of making lectures and other learning content open to both students and the general public. We’ll explore student-facing audio in Part 3 of this blog series, but take a look at the Oxford University podcast collections and their Futuremakers series to see how some topical issues are covered.

Educational trends and technology

Finally, there are many podcasts looking at future trends in education. Times Higher Education podcasts roam far and wide, as you might expect, covering themes from digital transformation to internationalisation and student employability.

On technology in particular, the UK-based, globally-focussed EdTech podcast has been running for five years, with over 200 episodes in the archives and 44,000+ downloads a month. Founded and hosted by Sophie Bailey, who has been in the field of edtech for 20 years, the podcast covers “schools, higher education and lifelong learning” with a mission “to improve the dialogue between ‘ed’ and ‘tech’ for better innovation and impact.” 

Coming up next

In Part 3 of this series, we’ll come back to the role of audio for learners, looking at the kinds of podcasts students can use to enhance learning and how teachers can make the best of what audio can offer – without having to launch your own podcast show.

Until then, we’d love to hear what you think of any of these podcasts. Do you listen to podcasts? Which ones would you recommend for professional development, and why?

Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

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