by Laura Pasquini
Podcast listening, making, and building is growing. There are now a variety of devices and often podcasts offer a way to fill the daily commute, entertain during the workday, and with the growth of smart speakers, they have reintroduced the idea of oral narration. Today, podcasts and audio listening now have 50% of the US ear (The Infinite Dial 2019 report). This on-demand audio content is portable and easy to stream, so it is no surprise that podcast listening is on the rise with the slow web movement. In comparison, 26% of Canadian adults indicated they listened to podcasts at least once a month last year (The Canadian Podcast Listener 2018 report). In a recent meta listen, A Podcast About Podcasting by a16z, the hosts shared how the podcast ecosystem is expansive and even the definition of a podcast is evolving. Typically it is audio or spoken word – this might include radio-released news but has evolved to interviews, conversations, and storytelling narrations. Typically, this audio is on-demand, portable, and easy to access – streaming on a computer, playing on a smart speaker, or downloaded to a device – that you can take on the go and is connected via RSS feeds to make it multi-modal.
I am not surprised to see a growing number of higher education professionals, institutions, and organizations entering into the podcasting realm. Instructors, scholars, practitioners, graduate students, and administrators in higher ed are now hosting and producing their own podcasts. Many professionals are embracing the pod as a way to share information and tell stories about almost everything!
In reading Joshua Kim’s Inside Higher Ed article on Rethinking Professional Development for Learning Professionals, these questions about conferences and ongoing training of professionals really resonated with me:
- What if the way we think about professional development for learning professionals is actually holding back the learning profession?
- What if what we really need is to create new knowledge?
- What if what the learning profession really needs is original scholarship?
- What if the resources, time and energy we devote to attending large professional conferences would be better spent in small-scale convenings, where the goals of scholarly productivity are foregrounded above all others?
In thinking about these questions, I have been examining how the podcast medium might be helping to support professional training and development for those of working in higher ed. In examining the state of higher education podcasting this past year, there are increasing amounts of podcasts created for and by colleagues for this type of learning (More about the research here: https://higheredpodcasts.wordpress.com/). For my podcasting interests and investigation, here is how I am defining a “higher ed podcast.” I am reviewing to understand more about podcasts that have:
- Content that is created to support professional development, learning, and/or information distribution;
- Higher ed as a target audience, including graduate/professional students (e.g. masters or doctoral researchers, social work, medicine, etc.), professional staff, administration, faculty, instructors, and/or researchers;
- Audio and/or video files that can be subscribed, downloaded, and/or streamed from an electronic device (e.g. computer, laptop, tablet, or mobile);
- A program, show, broadcast, and/or episodes designed with a specific purpose or topic focus related to postsecondary education;
- Intentional and original content designed for a podcast; it is NOT a recorded college/university lecture;
- Edited recording from a conference presentation, panel, webinar, or meeting; and
- Active or archived podcasts (no production since 2018).
These specific types of podcasts may offer a new way to learn, offer professional development, share a story, and/or improve to our practice in teaching, research or service. Here are a few of the podcasts created for and by higher education professionals – take a listen and/or add these to your podcast feed: http://bit.ly/higheredpodcasts
Podcasts offer a unique and immersive experience to tell stories about college and university experiences. Over the past year, I have been blogging and sharing what I have learned about the process and motivation of these higher ed podcast creators. As I look at these new digital storytelling modes, it has been fascinating to explore more about what goes on “behind the podcast” and learn how podcast makers share about their pod production experiences: http://bit.ly/behindthepodcast
In alignment with The Slow Media Manifesto movement, I think we need to actively define what and how we consume, produce, and create online. That is, we need to focus on the art of storytelling that is quality and credibly developed by and for the higher education community. In reviewing the postsecondary podcasting, I have reflected on my own tinkering, making, and hosting on this medium. Through my discovery, conversations, and training of others, I have curated podcasting design resources for my others who want to craft their own narrative in podcast format: http://bit.ly/podsavehighered
Instead of a quick like, comment, or post we typically experience online, podcasts provide a longer form, intimate experience and deeper connection with the hosts and the ideas shared on each episode. This extended media format offers deeper insights, showcases personality, and helps to interpret projects, practices, and experiences from within academia. With a wide variety of podcasting formats (e.g. interviews, commentary, panels, storytelling, etc.), you can create pieces of audio that vary in time, style, and approach. The podcasting medium lets you decide the frequency, distribution, and how you will produce the topic. Additionally, you can include resources for listeners to access further information through episode details, resources, show notes, and transcripts.
The time for higher ed professionals to gain a share of the podcast ear is now! It’s time to raise our mics and let our voices be heard on an RSS feed! Go on, tell your story and join the postsecondary podcast collective. I hope to hear your pod story soon and I’ll be sure to add it to my favourite podcast catcher.
Pasquini, L. A. (2018). Pod Save Higher Ed: A Resource Guide To Inspire Storytelling & Podcast Making in Higher Education. figshare. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.7228223.v1