Using Podcasts to Teach History and Politics

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


What is a Podcast?
The Oxford English dictionary defines a Podcast asa digital audio file made available on the Internet for downloading to a computer or mobile device, typically available as a series, new installments of which can be received by subscribers automatically.”

One way of thinking of a Podcast is a sort “Internet Radio On-Demand.” Further it is “similar in that you can usually listen to it on your computer — but it’s more than that. However, and not to confuse the issue, podcasting isn’t confined to just audio but can be video as well.” Here is a short video that further discusses what a Podcast is. Podcasting: Introduction – What is a Podcast?

As with most new technology, there are many creative ways that Podcast technology can be used in the classroom. Teachers can have students make their own broadcasts in the classroom on a variety of subjects or use existing Podcasts to teach content and integrate into the curriculum. Below we have provided a few lesson plans and resources that demonstrate how teachers can integrate Podcasts into their classroom. There are also a number of links to various history and political podcasts that can be used in the classroom.    

Lesson Plans and Teaching Resources for Teaching Using Podcasts

Great Podcast Episodes for Students and Teachers
Character Education Podcasts
Local History Guided Tour Podcasts
Various Lesson Plans Using Podcasts Resources
Using Podcasts to Teach English Language Arts
Teaching Podcasting: A Curriculum Guide for Educators
Using Podcasts in the Classroom: A Sample Lesson Plan Listening to the Colonial Trades

History Podcasts

The British History Podcast
The British History Podcast is a chronological retelling of the history of Britain with a particular focus upon the lives of the people. You won’t find a dry recounting of dates and battles here, but instead you’ll learn about who these people were and how their desires, fears, and flaws shaped the scope of this island at the edge of the world.

Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History
In “Hardcore History” journalist and broadcaster Dan Carlin takes his “Martian”, unorthodox way of thinking and applies it to the past. Was Alexander the Great as bad a person as Adolf Hitler? What would Apaches with modern weapons be like? Will our modern civilization ever fall like civilizations from past eras? This isn’t academic history (and Carlin isn’t a historian) but the podcast’s unique blend of high drama, masterful narration and Twilight Zone-style twists has entertained millions of listeners.

Footnoting History
Footnoting History is a bi-weekly podcast series dedicated to overlooked, popularly unknown, and exciting stories plucked from the footnotes of history.

The History Chicks
The History Chicks podcast focuses on the social history of various women from time past often from an unconventional perspective.

The Dangerous History Podcast
The Dangerous History Podcast covers the history that the Establishment would rather you not know, helping you learn the past so you can understand the present and prepare for the future.

The History of Rome
A weekly podcast tracing the history of the Roman Empire, beginning with Aeneas’s arrival in Italy and ending with the exile of Romulus Augustulus, last Emperor of the Western Roman Empire.

In Our Time By the BBC

In Our Time is a live BBC radio discussion series exploring the history of ideas, presented by Melvyn Bragg since 1998. It is one of BBC Radio 4’s most successful discussion programs, acknowledged to have “transformed the landscape for serious ideas at peak listening time”.

Lore Podcast
Lore is a podcast about non-fiction scary stories. Each episode examines historical events that show the dark side of human nature (usually through the lens of folklore) and is presented in a style that’s been compared to a campfire experience. The series was created in 2015 by Aaron Mahnke as a marketing experiment[1] and received the iTunes “Best of 2015” Award.[2] The podcast was also given the award for the “Best History Podcast” by the Academy of Podcasters in July 2016.[3] At the end of 2016, the podcast was included in the top lists by The Atlantic[4] and Entertainment Weekly.[5] As of October 2017, the series has 5 million monthly listeners.[1] The podcast airs on a bi-weekly basis, and is usually released on a Monday. The podcast is recorded in a studio in Mahnke’s home office.[1] Mahnke’s voice in the podcast is described as “coolly mesmeric.”

The Memory Palace
The Memory Palace is a monthly historical podcast hosted by Nate DiMeo. The program features historical narratives concerning such subjects as the Cardiff Giant and the CIA project Acoustic Kitty.

The History of Ancient Greece Podcast
A podcast series covering Ancient Greek & Hellenistic political, social, and cultural history from prehistory to the Roman conquest

The History of World War II
A bi-weekly podcast covering the last great war. Join Ray Harris Jr as he explores World War Two in intimate detail.

American History Tellers
American History Tellers is a podcast by Wondery, hosted by Lindsay Graham (not to be confused with Senator Lindsey Graham).[1] The show is known to use POV narration, telling stories through perspectives of average and notable people.

History of Pirates Podcasts
A podcast exploring the fascinating history of pirates.

The Pirate History Podcast
A podcast about the Golden Age of Piracy in the Caribbean, the real men and women that threatened the trade and stability of the Old World empires, the forces that led them to piracy and the myths and stories they inspired. Listeners will learn about famous names like Captain Henry Morgan, Henry Avery, Charles Vane, Mary Reed, Anne Bonny, Black Bart Roberts, Ned Low, and Edward ‘Blackbeard.’ The podcasts will explore famous Queens, Kings, Popes, rebellious monks, Caribbean Natives, African Slaves and notorious governors like Woodes Rogers.

Revisionist History- By Malcolm Gladwell
Revisionist History is Malcolm Gladwell’s journey through the overlooked and the misunderstood. Every episode re-examines something from the past—an event, a person, an idea, even a song—and asks whether we got it right the first time. From Pushkin Industries. Because sometimes the past deserves a second chance.

A weekly podcast exploring great political revolutions

The Thomas Jefferson Hour
The Thomas Jefferson Hour is a syndicated public radio program and podcast produced in Bismarck, North Dakota. It features author-historian Clay S. Jenkinson in a first-person portrayal of Thomas Jefferson, the third US President, and is co-hosted by David Swenson.

The Way I Heard It
All good stories have a twist, and all great storytellers are just a little twisted. This podcasts offers a different take on the people and events that you thought you knew, from pop culture to politics, Hollywood to history… The Way I Heard It is a series of short mysteries for the curious mind with a short attention span.

Political Podcasts

Common Sense
Common Sense with Dan Carlin is an independent look at politics and current events from popular New Media personality Dan Carlin.

The Drop Out
Money. Romance. Tragedy. Deception. The story of Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos is an unbelievable tale of ambition and fame gone terribly wrong. How did the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire lose it all in the blink of an eye?

The Gist
The Gist is an American podcast produced by Slate magazine that covers a wide variety of current news and issues. The show first aired in May 2014, and is hosted by Mike Pesca

The Daily- A Podcast by the New York Times
The Daily is a daily news podcast and radio show by the American newspaper The New York Times. Hosted by Times political journalist Michael Barbaro, its 20-minute episodes are based on the Times’ reporting of the day.

He Can Do That? A Podcast by the Washington Post?
Donald Trump’s historic presidency will look unlike any other that’s come before it. From his outsider status in Washington to his family’s continued residence in New York to his complicated business empire, each episode of this podcast will focus on one aspect of Trump’s time in the White House that defies conventions and ask the question, “Can he do that?

Intelligence Squared
America feels divided. From the most salient questions about our national identity and place in the world, to fundamental concerns about technology, religion, the economy, and public policy, Intelligence Squared U.S. is here to help. A respite from polarized discussions, we bring together the smartest minds to debate and dissect issues in depth, restoring civility and bringing intelligence to the public square in the process.

Politics and More Podcast
Politics and More Podcast is a weekly discussion about politics, hosted by The New Yorker’s executive editor, Dorothy Wickenden.

Pod Save the World
Pod Save the World is a weekly foreign policy podcast produced and distributed by Crooked Media, and hosted by former White House National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor. In each episode, Vietor is joined by a guest to discuss foreign policy and international relations.

Politically Re-Active
Politically Re-Active is a political comedy podcast from First Look Media and Panoply hosted by comedians W. Kamau Bell and Hari Kondabolu.

The NPR Politics Podcast
The NPR Politics Podcast is where NPR’s political reporters talk to you like they talk to each other. With weekly roundups and quick takes on news of the day, you don’t have to keep up with politics to know what’s happening. You just have to keep up with us.

The Slate Political Gabfest
The Slate Political Gabfest is an American political podcast by Slate magazine that covers topics on current politics and issues. The shows are usually hosted by David Plotz. It is reportedly Slate’s most popular podcast.

Serial is an investigative journalism podcast hosted by Sarah Koenig, narrating a nonfiction story over multiple episodes. The series was co-created and is co-produced by Koenig and Julie Snyder and developed by This American Life.

The Tom Woods Show
America feels divided. From the most salient questions about our national identity and place in the world, to fundamental concerns about technology, religion, the economy, and public policy, Intelligence Squared U.S. is here to help. A respite from polarized discussions, we bring together the smartest minds to debate and dissect issues in depth, restoring civility and bringing intelligence to the public square in the process.

White Lies
In 1965, Rev. James Reeb was murdered in Selma, Alabama. Three men were tried and acquitted, but no one was ever held to account.

NPR Podcast Directory
The site contains links to various popular Podcasts on a variety of topics.


Teaching the Art of Listening: How to Use Podcasts in the Classroom
Podcast Defined- Wikipedia
Podcast Defined- Oxford English Dictionary
What is a Podcast?
How Podcasting Works


  1. Podcasts have become a huge mainstream part of people’s lives. They are easier to listen to than the radio because there are no commercials and usually the creators are more laidback and realistic because it is their show. According to the article, podcasts can be introduced to the classroom as a reliable resource, depending on where the podcast is found. Fortunately, a lot of useful ones can be derived from throughout the article. I looked through a few different sites and the ones that really caught my attention was “The History Chicks” which has women who talk about important and interesting women throughout history, the 2 different pirate themed podcasts, “History of Pirates Podcasts” and “The Pirate History Podcast” which are both pretty interesting sounding in the names, but these podcasts talk about, pirates throughout history, and “The Way I Heard It”. Another way podcasts can be used in the classroom is for students to have another way to turn in work. Student’s should be given various ways to present their work depending on their respected learning styles. Paper and pencil or typed papers should always be an option, however, some students have a difficult time putting their thoughts in written/typed words and should not be penalized if they can explain it through speaking. Podcast assignments allow students to talk about their answers/thoughts/ideas and should be implemented and normalized in the classroom.

  2. This article was very informative on what exactly a podcast is. As someone that has not listened to many podcasts, I appreciate the list and descriptions provided. Technology is always advancing and it is important to be moving with it so we do not do our students a disservice by holding them back. I look forward to incorporating podcasts into my classroom and eventually having students create their own.

  3. I really love the idea of incorporating podcasts into the classroom for many reasons. First of all, using it as an additional outside resource is great. Technology is more and more prevalent in today’s classrooms. Letting students explore with podcast is a great way to get them interacting with tech, as well as just giving them opportunities for more resources. Podcasts are also a great project to assign to students. Students are creators, and giving them new ways to present what their learning will really peak their interests and get them even more excited for learning about, and digging deeper into the topics.

  4. Technology has become such an important part of everyday life, especially the lives of today’s students. Being able to bring that technology into the classroom keeps them engaged in the lesson because it’s a format that’s relevant and one they enjoy. As someone who just started getting into podcasts I can see how beneficial they can be in a classroom setting. They can provide new voices and explanations for those who may not fully understand the material. They can also take topics and explain them in an entertaining fashion. They could be great for an introduction activity or maybe even a quick review before a unit assessment.

  5. A podcast is an audio file on the internet that’s available for downloading to numerous devices. Podcasts can also be videos and subscribers can sign up to receive new episodes automatically. There are many creative ways to use podcasts in the classroom, such as making channels for students about different subjects. They can be used to teach content and integrate standards into the curriculum. This article provides numerous links showing how teachers can use podcasts in the classroom and different available channels that provide historical or political content. As a future educator, it’s important to have these resources so we can create effective and engaging lesson plans. Podcasts can be a unique way to introduce information to students and can be used is so many different ways.  Teachers can have students create and listen to podcasts to demonstrate or learn new content.  

  6. As wanting to be a future educator myself, I definitely think podcasts would be a great learning tool in the classrooms, especially in today’s society with all the new technology. I enjoy listening to podcasts a lot, and I find them entertaining to listen to. I think that it would really help students to truly listen to what they are learning. I also think that it would be important for these podcasts to be detailed in visually telling the lesson since students are just listening.

  7. I found this article to be extremely beneficial because I have never really thought about the idea of using podcasts in my teaching. Podcast are not only a different way of receiving information, but they can foster creativity as well. For instance, I plan on using the idea in the article that involves the students creating their own podcast. By incorporating this idea, the students are more likely to retain the information.

  8. This article was very interesting and I really enjoyed reading through it! I think that bringing podcasts into the classroom is a great idea. They are a different way for students to learn and its not the teacher standing at the front of the class talking at the students the entire class period. I also think an awesome lesson would be students making their own podcasts about different history topics and then the class could listen to each of them. I think that a lesson like this would be fun for the students and they would be learning and helping their classmates learn as well.

  9. In today’s classrooms technology is being used more and more. In all of the classrooms I have been in students have their own chrome books that most of their work is done on. I think using podcasts in the classroom can be an engaging way for students to get content. After the students have listened to a few, then they can get the chance to make their own. Having the students create their own podcast will give them a chance to display their understanding of the class material in fun way.

  10. I found this article to be super interesting. Because we live in such a technology driven world, I think that it is important for teachers to implement technology into the classroom, even from an early age. Podcasts are a really fun and creative way that teachers could do this. In my classroom, because I am teaching early grades, I think that listening to a history podcast or having the students create their own podcasts would be really interactive and fun for the students.

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