Political Podcasts as Educational Tools

Law School Tool Box- https://lawschooltoolbox.com/podcast-episode-11-legal-writing-101/

Dr. David J. Childs, Ph.D.
Northern Kentucky University

Do you enjoy a good podcast? The phenomenon of podcasts is a relatively new idea. Although the medium can only be traced back to the early 2000’s it is now a staple in many sectors of society. Although many people listen to podcasts for entertainment they are very useful as educational tools. Because podcasting is a relatively new phenomenon it is somewhat of an untapped resource in education. Here are a few resources that Democracy and Me offers in the way of podcasts as educational tools.

1. Please check out our podcast series Democracy and Z produced by local high school students and managed by our educational outreach coordinator Julie Coppens. Democracy and Z addresses issues surrounding civic engagement and current events that youth are concerned about. 
2. In light of our discussion about podcasts we would like to re-post a former article we wrote entitled Political Podcasts for Social Studies Classrooms. This is a resource for teachers, highlighting podcasts that can be useful in social studies teaching.        

Questions for discussion:
1. As an educator, in what ways have you used podcasts in your classroom?
2. If you have never used podcasts, what are creative ways that you could use podcasts or podcasting in your courses?
3. What podcasts do you find interesting and/or listen to regularly?

18 Comments

  1. I agree with this article that podcasts can be very interesting and full of good information. I believe podcasts can be used in the classroom if they are not biased. A podcast full of facts is more ideal for a classroom setting, but students could make their own podcasts to share their political opinions and knowledge in the classroom.

  2. I am an avid listener to podcasts because of all the information you gain from them and you can listen to them on the way to work or wherever you are going. while they are relatively new I think that they could play a big role in student learning. Since we are in a pandemic you as a teacher could also create a podcast for your students to listen to since we can not be in the classroom.

  3. Podcasts are a really useful way to educate yourself in your free time, such as when you are driving. People often use them for entertainment, but do not really think to listen to an educational podcast. Personally, I listen to many business podcasts and find them very useful to gain information that I would not have otherwise took the time to research and read.

  4. I personally love podcasts. When cooking in the kitchen or on a long drive, they pass the time and, for a lifelong learner like me, educate and inspire. While I enjoy more entertainment based podcasts, such as Ear Biscuits by Rhett and Link, I still find myself learning as they often discuss current events or theory in a thought provoking way. The idea of using podcasts in the classroom never crossed my mind — honestly I assumed high schoolers would find them “boring”. Yet Childs lists multiple podcasts made by and for students. I think this could be a great tool and a new way to invite technology and differentiated instruction into my classroom in the future. I could see myself using podcast snippets to spark conversation amongst students or even showing them a podcast as a basis for them to create a podcast episode of their own to share with the class!

  5. As a future educator, I have not used podcasts in my classroom but I listen to them regularly to refresh my memory about history or learn new ideas and concepts I have not thought about teaching in the classroom. Some creative ways I could use podcasting in my courses is through having students listen to podcast as an early morning/beginning of class exercise to get them thinking about history or an important topic that we would be discussing that day. I like how the podcast Democracy and Z addresses issues surrounding civic engagement and current events that youth are concerned about because it would interest students in the classroom. Furthermore, I find the podcast still processing beneficial and listen to them often because they are relevant and talk about touchy topics that need to be discussed. I also enjoy listening to stuff you missed in history class as a refresher and learn new concepts.

  6. Political podcasts are one of the most viable tools for teaching how the system of politics in America are meant to work. I have used them extensively on my own time and use them in tutoring as well as in my lesson plans. They demonstrate the need and effectiveness of true political discourse rather than filibustering, grandstanding, or mudslinging that have become more commonplace as we progress into a more technological age where disinformation is spreading like wildfire. When students or adults like myself hear these types of discussions we are more likely to identify potential for growth and change within ourselves as our ideals grow and mature. I encourage the use of every angle of discussion that we can find as Social Studies educators and this is a perfect tool.

  7. I think bringing podcasts into the elementary classroom is a great way to expand student’s knowledge of the social sciences, political issues and citizenry. Students could learn to express their thoughts clearly, to evaluate other’s messages, and learn ways to respectfully respond to other’s podcasts as well.
    In my future classroom, I would like to start a class podcast where the students decide the issues that they will discuss. Perhaps we could start with a video and class discussion on some current event topics, then the students would decide which issue they want to explore further.
    I have recently discovered podcasts and enjoy listening to them on my evening walks. One that I frequent is “Stuff You Should Know.” In this podcast, Chuck and Josh objectively discuss a very broad range of topics from medical issues to political movements. In Dr. Child’s article, “Political Podcasts for Social Studies Classrooms,” he highlights the importance of educators being knowledgable of politics. I agree with this and will be searching for more podcasts and sources that might expand my political knowledge and help me gain new perspectives that I can use to make connections and build a climate of understanding with all my future students.

  8. I agree with this article that podcasts are an engaging way to learn. It is unfortunate that they are an untapped resource in the classroom. This tool can be used not only to educate students but to also provide different perspectives to students. An educator can use clips from multiple perspectives and compare them with help from students. I like that some of the suggested podcasts are made by students. Once students listen to enough podcasts and become familiar with the format, students can be challenged to make their own podcasts!

  9. I believe podcasts can be an amazing tool to use in the classroom. Podcasts have become such a popular way to entertain ourselves because they offer a variety of topics to listen to and help us escape for awhile. So why not allow students to use them in the classroom? Teachers can either provide a podcast relevant to the week’s content or have students create one of their own. It’s also great tool for auditory learners who would benefit more from a lesson with a podcast included.

  10. I think using podcasts as a teaching tool is such a good idea! I personally love listening to podcasts so being able to incorporate that into educating someone is great and I think they’re going to get much more popular in the coming years. This is also a good tool for people that don’t like to read so they can just listen instead and hopefully be able to pay attention.

  11. As an educator, I believe that using podcasts in the classroom is a great idea. I think they are good ways to meet different learner needs while also being a fun way to learn about a topic in social studies. I, personally have listened to podcasts and I think they are a great way to help me “escape” from reality. I think these would be good for students because a lot of students (including myself) may have to go back and reread paragraphs and then pages over and over again to try to retain information. By listening to the podcasts students can become more involved because it is a different voice than the teacher and it can help the student engage in the lesson.

  12. Im glad I was able to read this article because I have never listened to a podcast but it has inspired me to. A lot of my friends tell me how they listen to podcasts for entertainment but I always forget to look up some good ones to get into. I think as a teacher I could use them personally to refresh my mind on topics I want to teach in my classroom. I like that you can multitask while listening to podcasts and can drive or clean the house while listening. I think students would really enjoy listening to podcasts, especially those who like doing two things at once. I think a good projects for students would be to listen to a podcast in a specific subject, write down a few facts the podcast shared, and then present their findings to the class. I think this would be a great way to have students use their resources and learn more about this new resource. Thank you for sharing this article!

  13. Using podcasts for student reflections and discussion is a great way for students to get more engaged in Civics. Podcasts are often less biased and more nuanced than news outlets as they are low volume and aren’t competing for ratings. Podcasts from University professors with competing views and debates are readily available. This open discussion is much more engaging for students than talking about theory or reading political arguments.

  14. From the perspective of an educator, podcasts are a wonderful learning tool! As the article mentions, the phenomenon of podcasts is relatively new and current. If educators are providing students with tools that are relevant in their lives outside of school, they will be more willing to engage and retain content information. While presenting students with a podcast to listen to is beneficial for those auditory learners, having the students create and record a podcast of their own would engage many different types of learners in your classroom!

  15. I think this is a great idea. I have never been a big podcast listener, but I do remember teachers I had using them as teaching tools. I remember the podcasts being very useful and productive in the classroom. Podcasts are full of information that can come from experts to high school students as shown above. I agree that this is a wonderful classroom tool, and I could see myself using a podcast to go further into a topic we are covering. I could also see myself using it as a way to solidify the information my students are learning. I think that when I use a podcast, it may answer some questions that students have better than I could.

  16. A agree that a podcast is a great educational tool. Not only is it used for entertainment, but educational purposes. Students could use this resource to find out more about the worlds current events, and addresses important issues that students should know more about. I would definitely encourage students to use an educational podcast as a resource of an educational tool, this can enhance and further their learning about important topics of today, and history. I also enjoy the sources of podcast you provided.

  17. As a future educator, I have never used a podcast myself when teaching a lesson, nor have I ever seen a teacher use a podcast in their classroom either. I think that podcasts can be super informative and educational, you just have to know which ones to pick from. I personally love listening to podcasts on long drives and or when I am simply getting ready for the day. They allow me to get more done when getting ready at least since all I have to do is listen. A podcast that I found that I really like for elementary students is Brains On. This is a free podcast for kids that has educational episodes as well as funny/silly episodes as well. Some of the educational episodes are on the following topics: bones, continental drift, safety of wearing your mask in public, the science of a sleeping brain and more. These educational podcasts could be used at either the beginning or end of a lesson that correlates with what you are teaching. The more fun/silly podcasts could always be used as a brain break for the kids. I think that podcasts should be used more inside of classrooms today, and I will for sure try to implement them in my classroom one day. Linked is the podcast I talked about.
    Brains On Podcast: https://www.brainson.org/episodes

  18. Recently, I have been really getting into podcasts. I think they are very accessible and you can listen to them just about anywhere. Podcasts can be used as entertainment, but can also be used for educational purposes. I was actually able to create a podcast for another one of my classes this semester and it was super easy to navigate and think it could be used for students as well. In the classroom, you could have students both listen to podcasts and create their own, depending on what they are learning. They could either work individually or together as a project and it could be very engaging. Not only could this work for social studies, but this could be used for any subject. Since I have just started listening to podcasts, I have not found any educational ones for my students or I, but I know I could find them if/when needed. Thank you for the additional resources, I will be using podcasts in my future classroom!

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