Learning about Teaching… and about Learning – Two New Podcasts

It’s summertime, which means I’m busier than usual, given all that we do at the Center for Teaching to get ready for the start of classes. Also, given my childcare schedule, summer is a time when I fall behind on my podcast listening. My colleague Stephanie Chasteen launched a new podcast back in May, but I just this morning listened to the first episode. I highly recommend her podcast, and a second new podcast, one that I’ve helped produce.

Learning about Teaching Physics – Stephanie, a physicist and education researcher at the University of Colorado-Boulder, and Michael Fuchs, a veteran high school physics teacher, co-host this new podcast focused on research-based best practices for teaching physics. The well-produced podcast is a fantastic resource for physics teachers at the high school and college levels. It’s also a great resource for science teachers in other disciplines. The first three episodes share research and teaching strategies related to demonstrations, clicker questions, and visual learning.

Student Learning on Display – We’ve had a podcast at the Vanderbilt Center for Teaching for years. This summer we launched a new series within the podcast focused squarely on student learning. Back in the spring 0f 2011, I was invited to attend student poster sessions organized by a couple of colleagues of mine. They put these poster sessions together so that students in their courses would have the chance to share their semester-long projects with their peers, with what I would call an “authentic audience.” It occurred to me that we could give these students a bigger platform for their work, and so this spring I went in search of student poster sessions around campus, bringing my camera and audio recorder with me. The result of this cub reporting is our new podcast series, each episode of which features an interview with one or more students about their projects. The first three episodes feature a team of engineering students who designed a way to generate electricity from spinach, a psychology student who studied the emotional responses generated by particular movie clips, and a group of art students who designed a font from doodles submitted by other students around campus through an iPad app.

I’m a big fan of podcasts. They teach me and inspire me, and they make my commute much more enjoyable. I use iTunes to subscribe to podcasts, sometimes finding podcasts through the iTunes Store and sometimes subscribing directly by giving iTunes the podcast URL. (Look under the Advanced menu for “Subscribe to Podcast.” Why this is “advanced” is beyond me.) iTunes automatically downloads new episodes as they are available, and those episodes are automatically transferred to my iPod when I sync it. It’s super easy.

One thing I like about podcasts is that they’re pretty easy to make. Just grab some audio, optionally edit it in a free program like Audacity, and pop the file into a blog post. That’s about all it takes. The blogging software takes care of the rest. I’ve posted a couple of podcast episodes here on the blog that way. That said, I really appreciate a well-produced podcast, like the ones I mentioned above. Good scripting, editing, and sound use makes for a much more engaging podcast. I’m guessing Stephanie is responsible for the production on the “Learning about Teaching Physics” podcast, given her background. On our podcast, I have to thank Rhett McDaniel, our educational technologist, who not only is a great producer but also has the best radio voice around.

What new podcasts are you listening to?

Image: “Voices,” Fe Ilya, Flickr (CC)

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